Introducing a Dog to a Cat
Ahh…the age old tale of cats and dogs. These two species can sometimes get along very well together and sometimes…well can’t. Sometimes it is the personality of each animal and other times they fight like cats and dogs (I couldn’t resist). Today we are going to go over different approaches when introducing a dog to a cat. We’ll also be going over some ways to help your animals adjust to one another if meeting for the first time. Let’s dive in.
Do Cats and Dogs Naturally Not Get Along?
This question isn’t a simple yes or no. Let’s look into why. Both of these animals are members of the Order Carnivora. This are mammals who eat meat and hunt for it. This can create a natural conflict for any two members. The idea is both species want to get fed and are in competition naturally. Although cats and dogs are domesticated there is still the “wild” nature in them to compete. Domestic pets are often forced to be in close proximity to one another. This can further agitate the conflict with certain personalities for both species.
They Perceive the World Very Differently
Cats are often thought of as shallow or distant. While I don’t believe this to be true they do like to hang back and intially warm up slower than dogs. Most dogs come right out the gate ready to take a more “paws on” approach. They want to investigate a situation first hand and often won’t take the distant approach. For this reason, it’s usually very advised to separate the dog and cats food and water areas. While dogs for example usually drink from bowls, we find that Cats are better suited towards water fountains. You can learn more about these at Tuxedo Cat.
There are exceptions to every rule however. Some cats and dogs have past experiences (or personality traits) that will cause them to behave differently. To find out more about this section and the one above I recommend going to Do Cats and Dogs Hate Each Other? Its a very helpful article in understanding how cats and dogs interact.
Lets start with this important DISCLAIMER! It is important to understand upfront that some cats and dogs will never be able to live together or tolerate one another. It is also important to understand that just because a dog has lived with one cat doesn’t make it safe to be around another. Finally please use common sense and pay attention to the body language of each animal. Pomsky Pals is in no way responsible for how you practice or interpret this information.
We’ll start with the body language. When you introduce your cat and dog watch for these signs. If the cat is stressed or uncomfortable they will pin their ears back or their tale will sway back and forth. Since (most of the time) the dog is the larger of two animals you will want to pay extra close attention to the way they behave during the introduction.
If your dog stares with extreme focus on the cat then it is best to keep them away. They may have a high prey drive and want to chase smaller animals naturally. You are looking for more relaxed signals from your canine. Investigation is going to be a natural part of this process but pay attention.
It is also worth noting that circumstances may change. If the dog gets along with the cat inside they may behave differently outside. In an outside setting your dog may be more likely to chase the cat or focus too much on them. Be careful to watch for stalker like signs from your dog in both inside and outside. If both animals are getting along you may want to gradually add distance between you and them. See if the behavior changes based on your location. Your dog may behave better only when you are around.
During the introduction if there is more than one dog or cat introduce each animal one on one. It is also a good idea to have atleast two people with the two animals. This helps maintain better control in an uncertain situation. Ease each animal into this experience with firm assurance. Sniffing and curiousity are both normal. Again use your best judgement and watch their body language. We will now go over different techniques for introducing a dog to a cat.
Make the Experience Familiar
If you are unable to get your dog to relax during the introduction then try to dull down his reaction by slowly introducing the cat to them. Gates are a great way to do this. Ideally pick a room or (even better) a location that is neutral to both animals. Don’t use common areas that one animal may have more dominance in.
Put the cat, litter box, and cat food in this location on one side of the gate. Then put your dog on a leash and let them briefly see the cat on the other side of the closed gate. Immediately after introduce your dog to a toy or find another way to grab their attention. This is also a good time to reward your dog with a treat if they break focus and start paying attention to the distraction. You will want to do this a few times during the day of the introduction.
You will want to continue this getting the dog closer to the cat as appropriate. This means if the dog becomes less excited each time you bring them into the area you can move closer to the closed gate (with the cat on the other side). The idea here is you want the dog to eventually lose interest in the cat. It is worth noting this process can take hours or days. Sometimes this method can take much longer. It will depend on each animal. Please keep in mind that sometimes a cat and a dog will never be able to be in the same location.
Most Used Approach
For this you will need two people involved. One of you should keep an eye on the dog and the other the cat. Hissing and growling are sure signs not to continue this method. If body language appears normal and both animals are relaxed continue.
Bring the dog closer to the cat (on a leash). The cat can be free for this option. When you start the introduction watch the dog. If the dog appears uninterested reward them with a treat. If the dog starts staring and not paying attention to anything but the cat try the first option.
When introducing a dog to a cat use common sense. Pay attention to the body languages of each animal and have another person present. While the first option is more ideal a lot of introduction go just fine with the second face to face approach. Remember that cats and dogs won’t always get along and safety should come first.
It is worth mentioning that younger animals often do better with introductions. Even then use your best judgement and watch their body language. Thank you for reading our cat and dog introduction article. For all your information on Pomskies be sure and check back with us at Pomsky Pals.