Although you will have grown up watching cartoons of dogs notoriously hating cats, it is possible for them to co-exist when they are introduced properly by their owners. If you are thinking of bringing a cat into your home and currently have dogs, don’t worry as there is a good chance to have the best of both worlds without their being an unhappy ending.
Ensure your dog is cat-friendly
Before the introduction of your newest member of the family, the first thing you need to think about is whether your dog is likely to accept the cat as some dogs can easily accept a cat in their home. A few breeds where the relationship is likely to be more positive include pugs and golden retrievers. If your dog has tended to be driven by catching its prey, including behavior such as chasing and attempting to attack other animals, then it is less likely you will be able to introduce them without a disaster occurring.
Do remember that even if you have a dog that is deemed cat-friendly, you should think of them just like humans and know that they each have different temperaments and tolerance levels. It’s not only down to the dog’s behavior but also the cat's. If you notice that the cat is showing signs of aggression such as hissing or swiping of claws, then it is unlikely your dog and cat are going to make a good partnership.
The best way to introduce a cat into a dog's home is to do so gradually, rather than throwing them both in at the deep end. To start with, the best thing to do is confine the new cat to a different room with everything they need while keeping your dog out by ensuring the door is always closed. Be sure you feed both pets on their side of the door which will allow them to pair the joy of being fed with the other pet's scent.
If there have been no problems after a few days, that’s when the time comes to open the door slightly so that they are able to see each other. Once they both seem comfortable and willing, you can open the door so they can have their first face to face interaction.
Always meet in a controlled environment
Always remember that your dog is strong enough to take out your cat even accidentally, which is why you should make sure the environment is controlled and overseen by a responsible adult. When first allowing your cat and dog to meet it is important to keep your dog on a leash and have a person assigned to each animal to encourage and give them treats as reinforcement that everything is ok.
Get your dog to either lie down or sit and make the early meetings not for too long so that either animal becomes agitated. It’s a lot better to have a series of shorter meetings than longer ones, as it avoids fearful behavior or aggression.
Don’t forget to let your new cat explore their surroundings without the dog around. Although it’s good to start them off in different rooms as the cat acclimatizes to her new surroundings, it’s also important to let them roam to familiarize themselves with the area and the scent of your dog or dogs.
Training for your dog
The best way to help things go as well possible is to train your dog so that they know they can’t play as roughly as they would with another dog. Teach your dog not to play rough and practice encouraging calm behavior. This is so much easier if your dog already has a relaxed temperament.
Try to use reinforcement of good behavior over scolding bad behavior, as this will help your dog to realize that the interaction between them both is something positive. Not all dogs can be matched and housed with cats so do bear this in mind when using the above tips.