Introducing a Cat to Your Dog Family

Introducing any pet to your family is always a
tricky business — it’s a meeting that should take place with care and
compassion for both the new animal as well as the pre-existing inhabitants of
the home. The introductions become especially challenging, though, when you’re
bringing a cat into a space that has been traditionally filled with dogs, dog
lovers, or both.

introducing a cat

Tips for Introducing a Cat

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make
the transition from a dog family to both a dog and cat family.

Meeting the Family

The first thing to consider is how your new
feline companion will affect the lives of the humans living within your home.
If you come from a dog family, you may come up against a bit of resistance as
you try to sell your fido-friendly relatives on the pleasures of having a cat
in the house.

As you go about this process, remember to bring up the consistent similarities that many dog and cat owners have in common. A well-acclimated loved family cat is just as easy to cuddle with, talk to, and generally spend time with as any pup.

Make sure to point this out, but also give them
time to warm up to your new four-legged friend. Don’t force a connection. Just
work to open their eyes to the new bond that can be formed.

When it comes to your dog, though, you’re going
to want to be a little bit more hands-on with the transition process.

Meeting the Dog

As you prepare to allow your dog and your new cat
to make each other’s acquaintance, it’s important to go about the process with
caution and compassion for both animals.

Start by letting the cat acclimate to its new
home without your dog around. Isolate your pup in a room that they’re
comfortable with and then let the cat begin to gain an understanding of its new
home on their own. Give them enough time to truly feel comfortable in their new
space. If your dog is nearby but not directly in the room, they will be able to
begin to understand their scent and the fact that another animal is sharing
their space.

Next, begin to alternate and let each animal have
a turn out in the house while the other is isolated and out of reach, allowing
both to get used to the other’s presence and scent. This should take place over
a few days. If you haven’t trained with your dog in a while, use this time to
also remind them of their basic obedience training.

When the day of an official face-to-face meeting
finally arrives, make sure to exhaust the dog with some good exercise before
the encounter. If they’re as tired and relaxed as possible, they’ll be less
likely to overreact to their new cohabitant.

introducing a cat

Once they’re tired out, place them in a room that
is controlled. Ideally, try to have your dog in their crate with a toy they
love. Try to have another person in the room with you at this point, too, in
order to praise and reward calm behavior with treats for both animals.

The Official Meeting

When you’re officially ready, bring in the cat
and let them wander around at their leisure. Always make sure that they have a
path to escape if they feel threatened by the dog.

Repeat this acclimating process on a regular
basis — ideally a few times a day. Eventually, you can take the dog out of
their kennel and keep them on a leash next to you. Again, don’t force a face to
face meeting. Just let your cat wander. If the dog gets too excited, take them
out of the room.

Repeat this process until they get used to each
other. Make sure to praise your dog and give them plenty of attention
throughout this process!

It can take a few weeks before everyone is calm
and acclimated — and that’s okay. Bringing a new cat into a dog home takes
time. Also, if you have more than one canine, make sure to introduce one dog at
a time.

Maintaining the Relationship

Even once your dog and cat are comfortable in the
same room, it’s important that you don’t leave them alone together unless the
cat has a way to escape. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t warm up to each
other, either. Sometimes dogs and cats simply can’t be as chummy as their
owners may be hoping for.

However, introducing them to each other carefully
can ensure that, regardless of their final relationship, the animals can at
least cohabitate in the same space over the long term. Make sure that their
eating and bathroom areas are also kept separate in order to preserve their own
personal spaces.

introducing a cat

General Cat Care Advice

If you’re a new cat owner, it’s also important
for you to learn how to care for a cat. As you can imagine, it’s quite
different from a dog. Here are a few hotspot items to keep in mind:

  • While cats don’t need to be bathed as often as dogs, it’s still recommended that you bathe and dry your cat roughly every 4-6 weeks depending on the circumstances
  • Try to take some time to learn your cat’s behavior. Cats are very different from dogs, and understanding the difference between things like playing and hunting or the various sounds they make can help you communicate better.
  • Make sure to consider anyone in your household who may have allergies to cats. You can use things like an air purifier, CBD oil, or medicine to control the effects.
  • Take the time to study how to feed your cat, what they need to be comfortable within their own spaces, and even how they look when they’re sick.

From food to cleaning, behavior, and illness,
make sure to take the time to properly understand and care for your cat.

Bringing a Cat into the Mix

There are many considerations when it comes to bringing a cat into a dog-friendly home. From the humans and dogs that already live there to the incoming cats themselves, make sure to approach the entire acclimating process with care. If you do that, everyone in your household will be better off.

Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on twitter @Jori Hamilton and see more of her work at writerjorihamilton.contently.com.

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