It is important to have realistic expectations when introducing a new pet to a resident pet. Cats are very territorial and need to be introduced to another animal very slowly in order to get them used to each other. Slow introductions help prevent fearful and aggressive problems from developing.
What will need to happen:
Confine your cat to one medium-sized room with his litter box, food, water and a bed. Feed your dog and cat on each side of the door to this room. This will help them to associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s smells. Don’t put the food so close to the door that they are too upset by each other’s presence to eat. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly, directly on either side of the door. Next, use two doorstops to prop open the door just enough to allow the animals to see each other, and repeat the whole process.
Rub a towel on one animal and put it underneath the food dish of the other animal. You should do this with each animal in the house. This is important so that they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent.
Switch Living Areas
Once your cat is using his litter box and eating regularly while confined, let him have free time in the house while confining your dog (supervised) to the new cat’s room. This switch provides another way for the animals to experience each other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting.
First, put your dog on-leash. Using treats, have him either sit or lie down and stay. Have another family member offer your cat some special pieces of food or catnip. At first, the cat and the dog should be on opposite sides of the room. Lots of short visits are better than a few long visits. Don’t drag out the visit so long that the dog becomes uncontrollable. Repeat this step several times until both the cat and dog are tolerating each other’s presence without fear, aggression or other undesirable behavior. Let Your Cat Go Next, allow your cat to explore your dog at her own pace, with your dog still on-leash and in a “down-stay.” Meanwhile, keep giving your dog lots of treats and praise for his calm behavior. If your dog gets up from his “stay” position, he should be repositioned with a treat lure, and praised and rewarded for obeying the “stay” command. If your cat runs away or becomes aggressive, you’re progressing too fast. Go back to the previous introduction steps.
Although your dog must be taught that chasing or being rough with your cat is unacceptable behavior, he must also be taught how to behave appropriately, and be rewarded for doing so, such as sitting, coming when called, or lying down in return for a treat. If your dog is always punished when your cat is around, and never has “good things” happen in the cat’s presence, he may redirect aggression toward your cat.
Directly Supervise All Interactions Between Your Dog And Cat
You may want to keep your dog on-leash and with you whenever your cat is free in the house during the introduction process. Be sure that your cat has an escape route and a place to hide. Keep your dog and cat separated when you are not home until you’re certain your cat will be safe.
Tony is a frequent speaker at our Saturday Meet and Greets here at Green Cottage Pets.
He genuinely cares about pets and their owners and we thank him for sharing his knowledge with all of us.
Reach Tony at http://www.twdogtraining.com