Bringing home a new pet will always stir up a mixture of emotions for any other animals you have in the house. Most animals are naturally filled with curiosity. Just like humans, each animal is very different. Some are confident and playful, others are timid or laidback, you will know your pet best and is it up to you to take any guidelines at their pace, as well as your own.
The list below contains ideas for introductions that have been successfully tried and tested, designed to minimise stress to each animal. Best of luck!
How to introduce a dog and cat to each other:
- Gradual introductions: It’s important to take introductions at a slow, calm pace. Even if this process takes weeks, that is very normal. It is better to not spook either animal as that will make a future in the same house very difficult.
- Their own safe space: Make sure each animal knows that they have their own space where they can go for peace and quiet. For a cat, they may prefer to be shut away in a quiet room with their bed and litter tray, where a dog cannot pester them. Using stair gates are a great way to divide areas in the home to create safe spaces.
- Start to mix scents: This could be done before the new animal comes home. Ideally, If there is an opportunity, you can stroke each animal with cloth or toy and leave it with the other animal so they are familiar with each other’s smells before they meet face to face. Otherwise if you have the new animal at home, stroke both animals in succession without washing your hands in between. Let them become used to each other’s scent before meeting.
- Seeing each other from a distance: Let each animal become aware of each other from different rooms of the house, either through windows or doors.
- Let them in the same room: Keeping the dog on a lead or distracting them with toys or treats is a good idea for the first time both animals are in the same room. Let the cat explore the area at their own pace, and reward the dog for all calm behaviour.
- Treats: Treats and praise will help each animal to associate each other with something positive.
- Remove the lead: Once you’re confident the animals are used to each other and the dog will not chase or scare the cat, you should let them meet each other on their own terms. It would be useful to choose a room where the cat can escape to higher levels if they feel they need to. Neither should feel trapped or forced.
Remember – all animals are different so make sure that you work at a pace that suits them. It’s important to note that not all cats and dogs feel the desire to be companions, some simply tolerate each other. But as long as both are happy, healthy and safe in their space, that’s what’s truly important.