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Introducing a New Dog to a Cat

Sunday, July 9, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

American Staffordshire Terrier dog and british shorthair cat together on pink background

Do you already have a cat and want to adopt a dog? Please read this article published by pethelpful.com

Planning is important

Introducing one animal to another should never be taken lightly, especially with dogs and cats. Even before moving forward with this decision, cat owners need to have a plan of action on how they’re going to make the introduction and have both animals live together for an unforeseeable future.

Cats are very different from dogs. Once your feline feels comfortable and thinks of your house as her own, she will begin to feel threatened if another animal comes in to join the family.

You will need to have a solid plan in place before you bring your new dog home. Whether they are a puppy or an adult dog, there are certain things you can to do make the adjustment easier for both animals.

Introducing Your Cat and Dog

If the dog is a little older (like from a shelter or rescue), you need to take things a little slower. Some dogs have not had any obedience training and are not willing to listen to you, so you need to delay the meeting for as long as possible. (If this is something you can do.) In the meantime teach your dog “leave it” and emphasize impulse control. Dogs with good impulse control are much less likely to attack.

If you have a new puppy, the introduction is going to take place sooner or later. Make it as soon as possible so that you can be there for it and monitor the meeting closely. The introduction that I have outlined above will work with puppies or with obedient adult dogs.

Bring the cat into the room where the dog or puppy is already waiting on a leash, hopefully with another person. The cat should really be in a carrier because if he or she gets scared immediately and decides to run you are likely to get scratched up if you are carrying him.
Put the dog into a down/stay and set the cage on the floor. If you have a puppy pick him up and hold him on your lap.

Wait for a few minutes. Five minutes seems like a long time when you are just sitting around waiting, but by introducing them slowly this first time you will be saving yourself hours of heartache in the future.
Let your dog up and go over and sniff the cage. If he is overexcited and lunges, tell him “no” firmly and take him out of the room. If you have a puppy let him down and let him investigate the carrier. Your cat will most likely just sit at the back and avoid the dog.
After your dog has sniffed the carrier, praise him and put him back in a “down/stay” (or pick up the puppy again) and prepare to wait. Have a seat on the floor and rub your dog’s belly. You have to allow the cat to come out of the cage on his own time.
When your cat starts to come out of the cage, make sure that your dog is watching you and not the cat. I think this is a perfect time to distract with training treats. (I use chunks of liver.)
Cats are curious and may come up to check out the dog. Give him a treat and see if he is interested. If the dog is too interested in the cat, it may be time to stop the exercise and try again the next day. If the dog is more concerned about getting his next training treat, that is a good thing.
If your cat just goes to the opposite side of the room and lies down, your pets will be fine together as long as the dog stays focused on you. If not, leave the room and try again tomorrow.

The next step is up to you. If your new puppy is a Maltese, and your cat is a Ragdoll, there is really not much of a chance of any problems developing if you leave them alone after this. If you have adopted an English Mastiff (or a small aggressive dog like a Jack Russell Terrier), however, and your cat is a small American Shorthair, it is a good idea to take them to different parts of the house and continue to monitor their interactions.

No Dog Yet? Which to Choose?

If you still have not purchased a new dog, you and your cat will have a much better chance by selecting one of several breeds. This is a generalization, of course, but breeds with low-prey drive are much less likely to chase any other pet you already have in your house. These are the breeds that consistently have the lowest prey drive:

Maltese
Japanese Chin
Bichon Frisé
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Viszla
Golden Retriever
Boxer
Old English Sheepdog

Dog Breeds You Should Avoid

Most of us do not want our dogs to have a high prey drive, especially when we have other pets. Here are some dog groups to avoid if looking for a pet with a low prey drive:

This includes dogs like the Greyhound, Whippet, Saluki, Irish Wolfhound, Borzoi, Afghan Hound, and others that hunt by sight. They are a great group of dogs, and many of them will be calm and never make any movement around your cat, but when the dog thinks the cat is running he or she will pounce. There is no guarantee any individual will act a certain way, but for the safety of your cats, it is best to avoid dogs in this group.

Thanks to Pethelpful.com for publishing the very informative article.

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