Introducing Dog To Cat (Can They Really Get Along?)

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Dog and cat snuggling in the grass

Cats and dogs living together doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ll teach you the best way to introduce a dog to a cat, so all parties are happy. No need for hissing, barking or growling — your pets can live cohesively in your home. Find out how to get a dog and cat to get along in our article below.

Before Getting A Second Animal

The most crucial step is to introduce the new animal to any pets who are already living in your home before adoption. This way, you will know whether they can get along. They may not be best friends right away, but at least you will see if they are willing to tolerate one another until they are more comfortable together.

Age Matters

  • Cavalier rescue puppy with tennis ball on couchIntroducing a kitten to a dog can be tricky. Kittens can be hurt quickly, so it’s best to make sure the dog is a little older. That way the dog isn’t roughhousing with the kitten. In the end, you want to be extra cautious when introducing a dog to a kitten since the dog may see the kitten as a toy.
  • Introducing a puppy to a cat is also difficult. The puppy is most likely a little more rambunctious, so you may want a younger cat that still likes to play.
  • Elderly cats can be hurt easily and typically aren’t as playful. So, getting a dog that is less rambunctious and calmer is a good idea.

Ultimately, you know your animals best. Just because puppies are stereotyped as having high-energy doesn’t mean that’s necessarily true in your case. Understand what your pets’ personalities are, so you can make their home life even better.

Pet’s History

If you already have a dog and are thinking of getting a cat, you should try and find a cat that has already been exposed to a dog. (If the situation is opposite, you still want the same exposure.)

If your dog has a history of being good with cats, you should find some ease in introducing them to a new cat. The same goes for cats. Whichever species you’re adopting, you’ll want to ask the current owner or shelter if they are good with the opposite animal before you adopt them. Adopting a cat who is known for hating dogs is just asking for trouble.

First, Let Each Settle In Separately

When you bring your new animal home, you may want to provide separate living quarters for them at first. For example, if you’re adopting a new cat you may want to put their food, water, and litter box all in the same room and close it off so the dog cannot get in. Choose a room that is comfortable, like a bedroom, not a closet or other dark room. This allows your cat time to settle in and start to feel comfortable in their new home.

As the animals settle in, they’ll probably take notice of the other. They may hear a meow or loud footsteps on the hardwood floors. They will recognize these sounds and notice that there’s another animal in the home.

How Do You Introduce A Dog To A Cat?

A Sly Tabby Cat

When it’s time to introduce a dog and cat, you need to pay attention to both of their body languages.

If the dog has a fixated focus on the cat with a stiff body and perhaps barking or whining this may be a warning size. If the cat’s tail is going back and forth and the ears are pinned back, this is an indicator that the cat may be unhappy.

These are signs that you should not let the dog and cat near one another. It’s okay for the animals to pay attention to one another, but you don’t want them fixated on the other.

Familiarize Each Other’s Scents

Before making contact with one another, give each animal a blanket or towel to lay on. Let them have it for a day or two, so their scent is transferred to it. Then, give it to the other pet, so they can learn the new scent and get used to the smell. Allow the pets to explore the other blanket or towel as they wish, do not force them to do anything. You’ll need to do this every day because the scent will wear off some.

Daschund in windowMake The Introduction Through Glass

Next, you can introduce them through a glass door or window. For example, if you have a glass patio door you could let your dog outside and let your cat in the room where the door enters. Let them approach the door as they please.

Again, you do not want to force either one to do anything. If possible, have another person help you, so you can have someone with each animal. Each of you can give treats to the dog and cat near the glass door to show that being around the other is a good thing.

Make sure that both animals are staying calm and pay attention to their body language. Is the cat’s back arched? Is the dog barking excessively? These are warning signs that the animals are not ready to meet face to face. Repeat this introduction through the glass until each animal is calm when seeing the other.

Use Barriers

After your pets have become comfortable with one another through a glass door, you can use a gate or screen door to introduce them. This will allow them to see one another as well as smell the other. Keep in mind that cats can jump over gates and squeeze through small openings, so you’ll want to monitor them. Repeat this and give treats until both animals seem calm around one another.

Face To Face Meeting

Finally, it’s time for them to meet face to face. Place the dog on a leash and allow both animals to be in the same room. Let the cat wander around and approach the dog if comfortable. (Only allow this if the dog is calm.) Your cat may want to hide the first time or two, which is fine. To discourage your cat from hiding, try treating them within sight of the dog. After repetition, your cat will be more comfortable coming around the dog.

Work towards extending your dog’s leash and giving them more room to approach the cat and sniff. After a few seconds, call your dog back and treat them for respecting the cat and coming when called. Progress toward allowing your dog off-leash and supervising all interactions with your dog and cat until a month has passed with no bad interactions.

Video: Dogs Meeting Kittens

Even though these pet parents may not have followed these steps above, it’s still cute to see these dogs meeting kittens for the first time.

Watch For Warning Signs

Grey tabby and white Cat meowing

If either is showing tense body language, give them a break and take them to separate rooms. You don’t want to force either into a situation that could get one of them hurt. You want to set your pets up for success. Until the animals seem relaxed around one another, you should not let them loose at the same time.

  • If the dog gets aggressive toward the cat and chases, pins, or picks up the cat you need to proceed with caution.
  • If your dog growls, lunges, or barks obsessively at the cat, your dog may not be a “cat person.”
  • If the cat growls, swats at, runs away from, or hides from the dog, your cat may not be a “dog person.”

If your dog is showing aggression towards your cat, you are not helpless. Find out how to stop dog aggression towards cats. And if all else fails, we recommend using a professional trainer to help.

Introducing Your Dog To Others

Need to know how to introduce your dog to other dogs or even newborns? Read our articles to make sure nobody gets injured and all relationships start on the right paw.

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