If you already have a dog and plan to adopt a cat, it’s critical to consider their first introduction. Avoid introducing a loose cat and an off-leash dog in an open room for the first time. Instead, plan ahead and take your time with this essential process. In honor of Adopt a Cat Month, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital wants to inform you everything to know about the first introduction between your cat and dog.
Steps to a Successful Cat & Dog Introduction
The first introduction between your cat and dog is a crucial part of the process. Practice these four steps to ensure a successful meeting:
Step One: Select the First Meeting’s Location
If you plan to adopt a cat and your dog has never been around cats before, it is a good idea to see how he or she will do before adopting. Avoid taking your dog to the shelter to expose him to other cats. This can be traumatic or highly stressful for many cats at the shelter. Instead, ask the shelter’s adoption counselors whether they have any confident cats they will enable to meet your dog under controlled situations. If this is not possible, another choice would be to introduce your current dog to a dog-savvy cat who belongs to a relative or friend.
Step Two: Separate the Animals
For a successful first introduction between your cat and dog, allow each animal plenty of time to figure out the other’s scent for several days. Sometimes the dog should be confined to another room or a crate to allow the cat time to roam free and investigate the dog’s scent.
If your dog obsessively barks at the new cat or digs at the separation barrier, the interaction likely won’t work without adequate training. Once your dog and cat are calm, eating normally, and using the litter box regularly, you can proceed to the next step.
Step Three: Create Leashed Introductions
In this step, allow both your cat and dog to be in the same room simultaneously, but keep the dog leashed. Also, securing the cat in a harness with a leash is ideal if the cat is comfortable wearing it. Continue with this introduction type until the dog is calm and ignores the cat. However, go back to and stay at step two longer if any aggression or fear is shown on either animal’s part. Training may be necessary if this is the case.
Step Four: Enable Unsupervised Interactions
Unsupervised time together can happen if you’ve supervised both animals around each other for a certain period of time and you are positive they will not harm each other.
Keep in mind that if the dog stares at the new kitty or the door that separates your dog from the cat, attempt to distract your pup with treats, a happy voice, or by smoothly guiding him or her away on a leash. If your dog takes the treat, repeat this process until he or she no longer focuses on the cat or door.
Signs to Watch Out
If your dog overly focuses on the cat or door, completely ignores you, or jumps suddenly as the cat moves without any improvement over time, this is probably an unlikely match. If you are seeking a cat for your dog, and your cat is regularly growling, hissing, or swatting at your dog regularly, it also may not be a good fit. Alternately, if your dog demonstrates questionable behavior around the cat, it may be a good idea to try again with another calmer kitty. Also, your cat might be unhappy if he or she stops eating, drinking, using the litter box, or is constantly staying hidden in another room. So, you may want to consider locating a better match for you and your dog.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!