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Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing A Cat To A Dog

Now you’ve done it. You’ve succumbed to the overwhelming numbers of homeless kitties on countless social media group sites and pages and you’re about to welcome that itty-bitty, doe-eyed puddytat into your home. But wait! Just a minute! What’s that nagging thought at the back of your mind? Oh yeah! What WILL the DOG think?! Oh boy, you’ve got your hands full now! What to do?

Firstly, know that dogs and cats can and DO get along… really, truly they do. However, the fostering of their harmonious relationship will simply require a ton of patience, then even more patience, followed by just a bit more… you guessed it…PATIENCE! Introducing your new cat to your resident dog (the one that’s been around for sooooooo long) is a process that should absolutely NOT be rushed. So dash away any hopes of you, Fido and Kitty snuggling up on the sofa as one big family for a movie marathon session the same day she comes home - it's POSSIBLE but very unlikely at first. In fact, the introduction will most likely be quite the opposite experience, so do be prepared to physically keep them separated for... well... for however long it takes to live amicably (AND safely) together. Kitty should expect to be in a separate room with food and a litter tray and confined to this area for the duration of the process. The best way to introduce the two is via their scent (dogs and cats THRIVE on scents, don't ya know ). On that note, try feeding them both near the door that separates them so they can: a) get a whiff of one another and; b) associate that whiff with good stuff (EATING! Nom nom nom). Once you’ve determined that it just might be safe to proceed to the next step, prop the door open and feed them in this manner (only do this under supervision so that no unwanted contact happens). Alternatively, you might even consider separating them with a baby-gate at that door  - that is, of course, if you're sure that your dog can’t leap over that gate! If there’s any overwhelming aggression (or fear) from either pet, close the door and try again. When these semi-communal meals become hassle-free, you can now begin to swap spaces… put poochie in the kitty’s living area (be certain to remove food and secure the “treats” found in her litter tray) and give kitty access to freely roam about the dog’s area. Both will enjoy this olfactory journey as it acts as a way for each to get to know one another just a little bit more without the risk of injury to either pet.

Now, for this next bit you’ll need an extra set of hands as one person will need to hold your pooch on a leash while the other person enters the room with the cat. Proceed cautiously here, with the dog on one side of the room and the cat on the other. The person in control of Fido should be distracting him with the MOST enticing treat ever known to dog, something that will keep him enraptured. If he narrows his sites on the cat, refocus him or stop the session and try again later. You don’t want any overexcited or aggressive behaviour coming from him, so do keep him as calm as possible. While Fido is distracted, the other person should be giving kitty an irresistible treat or some catnip; she need not be restrained at this point. When the moment feels right (you’ll know when that is), the energy is good, and everyone is calm, cool and collected, AND with the pup still on the leash, allow kitty to peruse the room at her own leisurely pace. If at any moment there is any sign of aggression from the dog, remove him and try again later. Initially, these sessions should be brief and you can increase the time when everyone is chill with one another until you eventually reach the point of… FRIENDSHIP!

A few things to consider: kittens will have an easier time adapting to dogs BUT, because they are so tiny, they can’t properly defend themselves against an overzealous dog. YOU, as her protector, must always supervise their interaction until such time that she can safely escape or she has the confidence to tell him to buzz off... or until they simply, wonderfully, get along.

Now, if you’ve got a cat and a dog that do get along and you wonder if they can board together when you go on holiday, we've got just the answer: the Kennaterries. Check it out here (be forewarned however, there’s tons of cuteness going on between these cats and dogs:

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