So you have decided to add a furry friend of a different variety to your home? Very good. Here are some considerations to keep in mind. Some cats are more social that others. For instance, a cat that is 8 years old and has never had to share her territory with other pets, simply may never learn to. On the other hand, a kitten that is 8 weeks old who is separated from her cat family might enjoy having another feline or canine companion.
Because cats are territorial, they need to be introduced to other animals in a very slow fashion. This allows your pets time to get used to each other before they have a confrontation. When introductions are slow, this prevents problems related to fear and aggression from occurring.
Take your new cat to a room that you can close off, complete with a litter box, food, water and a bed. Now, place the food and water bowls of your other animals near the outside of your cat’s door. This allows the animals to associate something pleasant with the other animal’s smell. After this, gradually move the dishes closer to the door until the pets can eat calmly on each respective side of the door. Next, prop open the door so that the animals can see each other while eating.
To get each animal used to the other’s smell, try swapping out their sleeping blankets or beds. Try rubbing a towel on one animal, and putting it underneath the food dish of the other animal.
Switching Living Areas
After your new cat has become comfortable, is eating regularly and using her litterbox, switch things up a bit. Confine your dogs to the cat’s room, and allow your cat to roam about the house. This allows each animal to become comfortable with each other’s scents and lets the cat become familiar with her new surroundings.
Avoiding a Confrontation
If either of your furry friends becomes afraid or aggressive, separate them and start over, introducing them in a series of very small, gradual steps.
A Word of Caution
Some dogs have a very strong prey drive and should never be left alone with a cat. A dog can kill a cat very easily, even if they are only trying to play. Most dogs try to chase cats to play with them. Cats respond by becoming scared and defensive. Following the steps outlined above should help this from happening.
A Controlled Meeting
After all of your animals have become accustomed to each other’s scents, a face to face introduction can be attempted. Start by putting your dog’s leash on. Using treats, have your dog either sit or lie down and stay there.
Have someone bring your cat in the room, on the opposite side. The cat shouldn’t be physically restrained. They should then offer your cat some treats or catnip. You should plan several of these meetings, kept short and sweet.
Letting Your Cat Go
Next, let your cat roam around as she pleases, coming as close to your dog as she desires. During this process, the dog should be kept on his leash and staying down. Be sure to reward your dog’s good behavior with praise and treats. Should your cat run away from your dog or become aggressive, move backward, slowly introducing them to one another several more times. Be sure to keep your dog and cat separated when you aren’t home, until you are certain your cat will stay safe.