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Introducing Your Cat to a New Dog


Jade Poole from I Write Words

Uh, oh! The world of pets’ biggest rivalry hits a bit too close to home with this one – introducing a new dog to your resident cat. Your cat is not only territorial, but they probably believe that they are the king of the castle that is your home. The last thing they want is a smelly, noisy and annoying dog invading their precious space!

Unfortunately for cats around the world, many households are inhabited by both cats and dogs – and in a lot of instances, they get along just fine – sometimes even treating each other as family. If you’re looking to get a dog but are concerned about how it will interact with your cat, we’ve compiled some tips for you to help make the transition easier:

Before the introduction and preparation tips:
  • Consider the age of the pets involved – a puppy who can grow up with your cat will likely see your cat as part of its ‘pack.’ In reverse, a fully-grown dog being introduced to a kitten poses a risk – dogs can be predatory and could hurt or even kill your kitten. If you are going to introduce a kitten to a dog, then it is best to keep the kitten in a crate so that the dog can get used to the cat’s scent without being able to be rough with it.
  • Choose a gentler breed of dog. Dogs that are known to have aggressive natures could attack your cat, especially if your cat is handicapped or elderly.
  • You probably already know your cat’s behaviour and body language well, so ensure that you learn more about your new dog’s nature before the introduction. It is most ideal to ensure the new dog can follow basic commands such as, ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’
  • Choose an area of your home that your cat hangs out in most. Move your cat’s food and water bowls, and toys to this space and ensure that the door can be closed so that your cat feels protected. If you are going to introduce them in a family room, ensure that there are high spaces for your cat to escape to if necessary.
  • Scent is very important for animals. It can help a lot to introduce the animals to each other’s’ scent before the introduction. You can do this by swapping their bedding for a night.
Introduction time:
Now that you’ve prepared for the big meeting, here’s how you can pull it off successfully:
  • First things first, keep the dog on a leash. Most dogs will naturally try to chase a cat and this can turn your cat off the dog for life!
  • Put your cat in a carrier or bring the dog into her ‘safe room’ for the introduction and close the door. Ensure that she has somewhere higher up such as a table or shelf to escape to if she needs to feel safe.
  • Let both animals smell each other, and reward good behaviour (gentleness, no hissing or barking) with treats.
  • If the dog tries to yank at the leash to run at your cat, correct it immediately.
At any point if your cat feels uncomfortable or unhappy, remove the dog from the room and try again the next day. It is best to introduce the pets to each other in small doses, for a couple of minutes each day. Once the pair have progressed to incident-free leash meets, you can remove the leash, but continue to supervise their interactions for a few more days.

Here are a few more pointers in helping your cat be as happy as possible with the new addition to their home;
  • Cats need to use the toilet in private. If your cat uses a litter tray, ensure that it is always out of reach of the dog. If the dog has access to the litter tray, it may do something really gross (we don’t need to explain any further, do we?). This will put your cat off using her tray, and she may resort to using the toilet elsewhere.
  • Dogs love cat food. It is imperative that you feed them separately and that your dog is unable to get to your cat’s food. Putting your cat’s bowls on a kitchen counter works well.
Above all else, it’s important to remember that each pet is different, and will take their own time in adjusting to a new home and family member.

Make sure that you take your new dog to the vet for all their necessary vaccines, routine care and treatment for illness or accidents. Sign up for pet insurance with Oneplan Pet today.

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