Although the perception is that cats and dogs cannot live together peacefully, introducing them to one another correctly could be the foundation of a happy friendship. This perfect introduction will require some planning, patience, and careful guidance to ensure everything goes to plan. The best case scenario is that your cat and dog will be best friends, in other cases it may take a long time for them to get used to one another and even then there may be some hostility.
Before the meeting
It is important to realise that some dogs are a lot larger than cats, and can therefore hurt them seriously even if they are just playing. To make sure it all runs smoothly, there are a few simple things you can do before they meet one another. These include:
- Create a safe place for your cat – somewhere the dog cannot get to it (a baby gate or cat door will work)
- Make sure your cat’s litter box is also somewhere the dog cannot reach. This is because some dogs will eat cat faeces or they may frighten the cat in the litter box which can lead to them relieving themselves in other areas of the house
- Separate the eating areas of both pets as either food has negative effects to the other animal
Introducing your two pets should be done slowly, in a step-wise fashion. You should initially separate the 2 from one another but still allow them to hear the other one and smell them, therefore getting used to them being around. Further to this, you can place a towel or blanket with the pets smell and place it in the room with the other pet, letting this ease the transition. You will need to spend time with each pet to calm them and allow them to become comfortable with the situation.
After some time, allow the pets to switch rooms without letting them to meet face to face. This will give them more time to get used to the others scent and become comfortable. Once they have become acquainted with each other scent, it is time to properly introduce the pair.
Their initial meeting should have a gate or barrier between the pair, so they can work each other out without potential harm. As they get to know one another more and more, remove the gate between them but still keep the puppy on a leash. By doing this, your cat can make the moves as the puppy will be eager to play with another animal. Don’t allow your puppy to chase, harass or torment your cat, and reward their good behaviour with treats as a positive reinforcement.
If they do not get along immediately, that’s ok. Repeat this introduction process every day or so until they become familiar with each other and learn to live peacefully.
Happily ever after
In most cases, your puppy and cat will learn to live together and may even become best friends. However, each pet is different and there are a range of situations that can occur, so be careful before leaving them completely alone together. It only takes one small action from the puppy to hurt the cat, so for the first couple of weeks be sure to be around when they are together.