It is not uncommon for a dog to get along with a cat, especially when the two have grown up together. Co-habitation is a key element for developing a mutual friendship. However, when you are bringing a cat into the territory solely under the dog’s possession, this can create some sort of unwanted hostility.
Dogs are protective of their home, territory and pack. The new cat could be treated as another dog and pack member to be played with or as the enemy and threat to the territory. Older cats not associated with dogs, or around them often, could become aggressive and defensive as well.
If you are planning to bring home a new cat to meet your dog, there are some things you can do for a smooth introduction and lifelong friendship.
Safety and comfort for both dogs and cats
- You want both pets to feel safe and comforted in their home. To ensure the safety of your cat, hone in on your dog’s obedience skills. Simple commands of “sit” and “leave it” will help to calm down an overly excited dog, so the cat can sniff out their new environment.
- For the first few days, keep your cat confined to a room with all they need. Allow your pets to get used to each other’s smell through the doorway. After a while, leave the door open with something blocking the entry. Walk the dog past the doorway several times a day and allow them to peek in at the cat. Reward good behavior with favorite treats.
- Once your cat is no longer running and hiding when the dog approaches the door, or if they are curious enough, switch to a formal greeting in a common place like the living room.
- If you are not in the room or home, keep the pets separate for a while. Interrupt any barking or chasing behavior as well.
Do not forget to give equal attention whenever possible.