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How To Successfully Introduce Your Cat To A Dog

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It can be a tricky business to introduce a cat to a dog. If not done correctly, you could be setting the animals and situation up for failure. This guide will provide you with the information you need to organize an introduction that will give your cat and dog the safety, security, and time they need for success.

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Image Source: reader of the pack via Flickr.com

Pair correctly
When adding a new cat or dog to your home, it’s important to make sure that they’re compatible. If their personalities and energy levels don’t mesh, you may never have a peaceful home where both animals feel comfortable and safe. When choosing a new animal to add to your family, take these tips into consideration:

  • Try to choose a dog that has a history of successfully living with cats. Depending on how the dog ended up at the shelter, they may have records of her previous home which will indicate other household animals and problem areas.
  • Choose animals that have similar temperaments and energy levels. For instance, an elderly cat may not be a good match for a rambunctious puppy. A shy or skittish cat may not be a good match for a dog who likes to bark at and chase cats.

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Image Source: sabianmaggy via Flickr.com

Gather useful tools and supplies

Prepare your home with the right tools and supplies before both animals are in the space. Here are some things that will come in handy for a successful introduction:

  • A leash for the dog
  • A baby gate
  • Two rooms with securely-closing doors to keep the dog and cat separate during parts of the introduction process
  • Treats for rewarding good behavior


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Image Source: jeffreyw via Flickr.com

Step One: sharing space separately 

The first stage of introduction is the most important, since it can set the tone for how the animals will view each other moving forward. It’s critical that you take the time to introduce them correctly to ensure the best possible feelings.

  • Though it may seem to make sense to introduce your cat to a dog at the shelter before you make an adoption official, this type of meeting won’t give you a clear idea of how either animal will respond in a home setting. Your cat will be too anxious in an environment with so many unfamiliar smells, sounds, and animals. Instead, introduce them at home where things are more calm and stable.
  • Keep them in separate rooms for the first few days. This will allow each animal to adjust to the new sounds and smells in your home. During these days, alternate which animal is confined and which is allowed to roam freely. Allowing each animals to roam where the other has been will help them become familiar with each other’s smells.
  • If the dog obsessively barks at the cat or scratches at the separating door for more than a day or two, she may require proper training before proceeding.
  • You can move on to Step Two once both animals are calm (or at least not obsessed with each other). Both animals should be eating regularly and your cat should be correctly using her litter box.


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Image Source: cjewell via Flickr.com

Step Two: supervised introductions

Once the dog and cat have become accustomed to each other’s presence and are showing no signs of stress, you can initiate a face-to-face introduction.

  • You can allow both animals to be in one room at the same time, but the dog must be held on a leash.
  • If either animals shows signs of anger or aggression, revert back to Step One for a few more days.
  • Offering treats for good behavior will help them associate each other with something positive.
  • The animals must always be confined to private rooms when you aren’t home to supervise the interactions. The initial introductions must always be supervised to ensure the safety of both animals.
  • If both animals seem curious and relatively calm, continue with this type of supervised time. You can move on to Step Three once both animals are relaxed and happy around each other.


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Image Source: reader of the pack via Flickr.com

Step Three: unsupervised time

Once your cat and dog have spent a significant amount of supervised time together (generally about a month), you can begin allowing them to be together unsupervised. You should only allow them to be together in an unsupervised setting if you are sure they won’t hurt each other. Putting a baby gate up in a doorway or hallway (which your cat can jump but your dog cannot) will give your cat an opportunity to roam freely around the dog while she is comfortable, but will also give her a place to escape to if she would rather be alone.

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