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Introducing a Cat to a Dog

Updated on March 28, 2015
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Plenty of households have both cats and dogs living together. Good relations can exist between these two unlikely pals, but the whole process requires a lot of patience. When it comes to introducing a cat to a dog, the key is to take things slowly.

Whether a new cat can be successfully brought into a dog-dwelling house depends a lot on the breed and age of the animals involved. Some breeds of dog might have difficulty accepting a cat in their home. Older dogs might be less energetic than younger dogs. Meanwhile, an old cat that has never been around other animals may never learn to share her territory.

Preparing to Introduce a Cat to a Dog

When you are preparing for such an introduction, it’s important to choose a quiet time. Don't think of of beginning such introductions when you've got relatives coming over or some big event planned.

Spend a little time getting your cat and dog ready before the first meeting. Trim your cat's claws to avoid any scratching. You should also work with your cat to teach her to redirect her attention towards you.

Take your cat into the room where the introduction is likely to take place. Wait for her to look and then, when she's not looking, say her name. When she looks back, give her a treat and praise her. Continue to do this, gradually letting her move further and further away before you call her name. It won’t take long for her to learn to respond.

At the same time, work with your dog on developing his obedience skills. Important skills to work on are recall (coming when called) and a 'leave it' exercise.

The sturdy and durable Carlson Lil Tuffy Metal Expandable Gate can keep your pets apart. It's quick and easy to set up. Having this in a room might help cat and dog in the early stages of getting to know each other.

How to Introduce a Cat to a Dog

To begin with, cat and dog should be kept apart. Confine the two to separate rooms, making sure that they have plenty of their favourite toys close by so that they can feel at ease. After a few days, allow them to move to other rooms - still keeping them out of the way of each other. Let them sniff objects with a scent of the other, so that they slowly become acquainted with each other through smell.

Use a gate to separate the two animals. That way they will be able to see and sniff each other, but won't get into scraps. Keep the dividing gate there for a few days. If you are sure that there are no signs of aggression, the gate can come down.

When the dividing barrier is eventually gone, allow the cat and dog the opportunity to get to know each other in their own time. Keep the dog on a leash to begin with and make sure there are places the cat can escape to if things ever get a little tricky. The whole process of introducing a cat to a dog can be a slow one, but the chances are good that cat and dog can end up being the best of friends.

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