“Fighting like cats and dogs” is a saying that has some basis in reality. Cats and dogs don’t always get along, based on the behaviors of certain dogs and cats; some dogs may not have the personality to get along with cats and vice versa. If you want to bring a cat into your household where dogs reside, it might be a bit tricky.
To introduce cats to dogs, you should pay attention to their body language. Let the cat roam free to give her a chance to smell everything and get used to a dog scent. Finally, supervise their face-to-face meeting.
To learn how to make the first meeting between your new cat and your trusted dog go smoothly, continue reading for several helpful and calming tips.
Remember That Each Dog or Cat Are Different
For simplicity purposes, this article assumes you’re bringing home a kitten or cat to your dog, and not the other way around.
Just like humans, cats and dogs have individual personalities. Some are calm, patient, and cooperative, while others are high strung and need to be in a home without animals. Depending on your dog and the cat you want to bring into your home, you might have difficulty teaching them to get along.
A skittish cat with high anxiety, for example, would be a problem for a dog that chases anything that moves. But if your dog is calm and patient, introducing a cat to him might go better.
When cats meet other animals, they are naturally shy and anxious, but you can help them get along from the beginning by keeping your dog away from the cat and supervising their first few meetings. If neither of them has the personality to get along, they more than likely won’t get along very well.
Pay Attention to the Body Language of Both Animals
Body language in any species is very powerful because it shows how they are thinking and feeling, and it is an efficient tool to gauge how well your new cat and dog will get along. When you first bring a new cat home to your dog, look at how each animal reacts. Look for flattened ears and a wagging tail in the cat or a stiff, cold stare from the dog.
Both of those signs could mean that they aren’t ready to meet yet. However, if they act curious by sniffing each other or if your dog lays down, or the cat’s tail is up yet relaxed, they could be ready to meet each other.
If your dog fixates its attention on the new cat, don’t let him near the cat. That is a sign that your dog is thinking the cat is prey and will chase and catch her, perhaps injuring her in the process.
Let the Cat Roam Free While the Dog Is on a Leash or Behind a Gate
If you’ve had your dog for some time and have trained him to listen to you and have him leash trained, it would help keep him on a leash while the new cat gets used to her surroundings.
When a cat first enters a new home, they need to walk around sniffing and smelling things as a way of getting acquainted with everything and everyone. They also need to check it out to make sure no predator is living in this home. While the cat is getting used to everything, it might be more stressful for her if your dog is chasing or sniffing her constantly.
To help the cat become more comfortable in your home, keep your dog on a leash or behind a gate so that the cat can roam in peace for a while.
Swap Scents Between the Cat and Dog Before Letting Them Meet
Other sources suggest keeping the new cat in a closed room with a litter box, food, and water for the first few days. Feed both animals on either side of the door, so they get used to each other’s scents. However, if your dog seems too fixated on the door of the room that the cat is in, try distraction to keep him occupied.
Try putting a blanket with the dog’s scent on the cat’s side of the door and vice versa. That will help them get used to each other’s scents and can help create a bond between the two animals. It will also desensitize them to each other so that they become part of each other’s world.
When both animals seem more curious than scared or irritated, it might be time to introduce them face-to-face in brief, supervised visits.
Begin Supervised Face-to-Face Meetings
When they’ve had time to smell each other through the door or a gate, and they start ignoring each other for a while, it is time to remove the door or the gate and let them meet each other with supervision. Be aware of any aggressive behavior. Dogs and cats play in different ways and may not understand how the other one plays.
The one not playing may take the moves to be aggressive and will react aggressively. If they do that, they should be separated for a while for a little cooling off time. When they are ready, try again until they are friendly with each other.
Let Them Spend Time Together Unsupervised
Once they’ve started to bond while supervised, it’s time to let them bond without your supervision. Of course, you want to keep an eye on them from a distance to make sure they won’t start being aggressive with each other once your back is turned. Ensure the cat can get up high if necessary, but give both animals full reign of the house.
Give your pets positive reinforcement for all appropriate behavior between the two. Show them what kind of behavior you expect and give them treats when they exhibit this behavior.
However, sometimes a dog will resent the cat for coming into his home and might get jealous of the attention a new cat brings. If this happens, make time to give your dog attention, such as going for walks or going to the park to throw a ball around.
Likewise, if the cat seems jealous in some way, give her attention with extra cuddling or playtime.
Look for Any Signs of Trouble and Intervene
Even the best intentions go awry, and your pets might not get along too well. Any signs of aggression versus play should be dealt with immediately, not to repeat the behavior. Say that your cat flattens her ears, and her tail is double the size it normally is when your dog comes near her. That is a sign that she feels threatened by something your dog did.
At this point, you will need to separate them until the tension dies down. Then try again. Pets will occasionally fight for one reason or another. The key is to keep it minimized so they don’t kill each other.
How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Get Used to a Dog?
Cats and dogs might take a few minutes or a few months to get used to each other, as it all depends on how you introduce them and their personalities. Some cats are high energy or anxious, just as with dogs. When high energy cats and low energy dogs are in the same house, cats might warm up to dogs relatively quickly.
The best way to help your new cat get used to your dog is through the use of a gate or closed room.
Cats and dogs can be friends if properly introduced. Help them cultivate their friendship, and they will at least not fight as often, but they will follow your lead. If you expect them to fight all the time, they will pick up on that and fight more. However, if you expect them to get along, they will more than likely be less aggressive with each other.
The key to a beautiful friendship between the two is patience. Please don’t rush the friendship and let them take their time to get to know each other. You never know how it will turn out, so trust the process, and it will work out in the end.
- Best Friends: How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat
- Animal Humane Society: How to Introduce a Dog and Cat
- American Humane: Introducing Dogs to Cats
- Paws: Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog
- Rover: How to Introduce a Cat to a Dog Household: A Step-by-Step Guide
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.