If you are an animal lover, you may want to own as many pets as possible. While this can include different types of animals, for most people, it involves cats and dogs.
While at first many people assume cats and dogs are natural enemies, the opposite is often true. In fact, more and more households across the world now have cats and dogs living happy and healthy lives with one another.
But to make sure your household is among those that have canines and felines who are each other’s best buddies, there are certain strategies you should use when making the initial introductions. To ensure all goes well in your household from day one, here are some tips you can use to safely introduce your cats and dogs to one another.
Make Sure Everyone is Healthy
Before you make any introductions, make sure all four-legged family members are as healthy as possible. Therefore, schedule a trip to your favorite veterinarian before introducing Fido to Fluffy. By doing so, you can make sure no unexpected illnesses are occurring, and you can also have all vaccines up-to-date as well. By taking these precautions beforehand, you can get your introductions off to a good start.
Give Your Cat its Own Space
Since cats are known for wanting their own special comfort zones, it’s a good idea to give your cat its own room when attempting to bring a new dog into the family. For best results, opt for a spare bedroom, den, or other room that will be big enough and secure enough to make your kitty comfortable.
And as always, make sure they have plenty of food and water available, and of course, a litter box. By having the box in a room where the dog does not have access to, the cat can feel comfortable doing her business, which will, over time, decrease the chances the cat will begin to use other places in the house to relieve itself.
Introduce Each Other’s Scent
While your dog and cat are still apart from one another, take this opportunity to let them get used to each other’s scent. For example, take a blanket each has used and give it to the other animal, letting them sniff it and examine it at their leisure. By doing this, when the initial introduction happens, each one should be comfortable with any new smells they encounter.
Keep the Dog on a Leash
When you feel the time has come to finally let your dog and cat meet face-to-face, it’s usually best to keep the dog on a leash at all times. Even if your dog has had obedience training and finished at the top of its class, always use the leash on the initial introduction, since you never know if something unexpected will happen.
Chances are, you’ll be able to tell how things are going by everyone’s body language.
For example, if the dog is barking and lunging at the cat, plan on having plenty of patience. And if your cat is hissing or has its back arched, stay calm, speak some soothing words, and pet them if possible. And don’t worry if the first meeting is a bit tense, since some patience and common sense will usually work wonders.
Never Let Them Work It Out On Their Own
Even if you are completely confident all will go well eventually, never under any circumstances should you just sit back and assume your dog and cat will work out their differences on their own. In many instances when this strategy is used, someone ultimately winds up getting hurt. Even if the dog is just attempting to play with the cat, your kitty may think the dog is trying to hurt it. If this happens, the cat may take a swipe at the dog’s face, possibly scratching an eye. Likewise, a cat that may just be running around the room may trigger a dog’s instinct to chase, which could result in the kitty getting hurt.
Since even the best of introductions can be a bit stressful on both animals, always be willing to take your time and use your best dog and cat whisperer skills to create a happy family.
Start Small and Work Up
When you decide to make the face-to-face introduction, plan on it being for only a few minutes. Even if things are going well, letting them interact too long can end up being too much of a good thing. Sometimes, only 10 minutes may be a good idea. Once they begin to get used to one another, increase the visits to 15 or 20 minutes, then 30 minutes or more. By breaking up the visits into these increments, kitty and doggy will be under much less stress, and will eventually start looking forward to being with one another. Like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
When Can They Live Together?
This is a hard question to answer, since all dogs and cats are different. In some cases, everyone can live in peace and harmony in only a few days, while others may take a month or more to learn to love one another.
Generally speaking, you’ll know your four-legged family members are fine with their new arrangement when the dog doesn’t feel the need to chase or bark at the cat, and when your kitty decides that it doesn’t need to hide under the bed or jump up on a high shelf to get away from Fido.
Be a Good Matchmaker
If you want to ensure your chances of success are as high as possible, try to be a good matchmaker. Whether it’s a dog or cat that is being introduced into the household, take some time to think about the personalities of each animal.
If you will be going to a local animal shelter to get your new addition, always try to ask the shelter personnel to lead you to animals that may have already been acclimated to living in a multi-pet household. By doing so, you may be able to save yourself some time and effort in helping everyone to get along with one another.
However, even if you go this route, you’ll still need to have plenty of time and patience, since even the best of introductions take time.
Expect a Great Friendship
By following the above-mentioned steps, you will be laying the groundwork for what will likely become a great friendship between your dog and cat.
Whether you’ve got older animals or have a puppy and kitten who get to grow up with one another, you’ll soon find both of your furry children playing with one another, taking naps together, and getting into an occasional mischievous predicament now and then. But in doing so, they will also bring tremendous amounts of joy and fun into your life, and create memories that will last a lifetime.