Dogs and cats usually get along very differently. While your dog finds a cat super exciting and wants to play, your cat will usually see pup as an intruder. A cat will let you know they feel like this by hissing or even striking at your dog. And we want to prevent that!
Dog scientist, Joke Monteny, is here to help 😊
A good start is half the battle
Preparation is essential for a smooth introduction between your dog and cat. Cats don’t like change, so gradual steps will help your cat get used to her new roommate!
To start, put all your cat's bits (food bowl, water, litter tray, cat tower, toys) somewhere they can get to but your dog can’t. Strangely enough, puppies are crazy about cat poop… Don't say we didn't warn you! 💩 It's therefore extremely important that your cat's litter tray and food are out of reach for your puppy.You could even set up multiple dog-safe cat corners with food, resting spots and hiding places.
Scents are even more important for cats than for dogs. So, before your dog joins the household, introduce your cat to their smell by bringing a cloth from your dog. It’s a good idea to put this cloth somewhere you’re planning for the dog to spend time - near their bed or food bowl, for example. Avoid putting it near your cat’s sleeping or hiding place!
Nice to meet you, housemate!
Your dog comes to live with you, hurray! When it’s time for your dog to start their exploration of his new home, make sure your cat is separate.
A subtle way to introduce your dog and cat to each other is to stroke both animals and introduce them to each other's scents through your hands. To help them associate the 'strange' scent with something positive, give them both goodies, but again: from a distance.
Feel like it’s time to introduce the two to each other? First, make sure both animals are calm. Choose a location where your cat can ‘feel out’ the situation. For example, as ‘king of the jungle’, cats love to oversee what’s going on from a height. Keep your dog on a leash and let the animals check each other out from a distance. Have them look at each other from a distance with a fence in between. Or give your cat access to the room and keep busy with the dog. For example, let it look for our tasty bites in a sniffing mat, so its attention is focused on the sweets and he won't pay attention to your cat (our bites are way too tasty for that 😉). This way your cat first gets the chance to observe the dog closer. All going smoothly? Then they’ve earned some more goodies!
If your cat growls or hisses at the dog, stay calm and let her go her way. Your job is to keep the dog safe with you so he can’t reach the cat. Make sure your cat can go to her safe places at all times and that your dog can’t disturb her there.
- Don't force anything. Let your pets get to know each other at their own pace
- Keep the first introductions short and always under supervision
Before long, your dog and cat will be able to stay together longer - eventually without you there as well. Who knows, they might become best friends (and certainly if you let them both enjoy Edgard & Cooper dog and cat food)!