Is there anything cuter than animal friends of different species? Finding a feline friend for your dog can add a lot of enrichment to his life (and cuteness to yours). When introducing a cat to your dog, though, you have to take it slow. New animals need time and space to get used to one another and to start feeling comfortable. If you don’t want to see the literal version of fighting like cats and dogs, OVRS explains the 3 steps for carefully introducing a cat to your dog

Step 1: Keep them Separate at First

You should never put animals together without supervision for their first meeting. You can never be sure if an animal will feel afraid or threatened by another, and this can lead to a violent confrontation. Instead, set the cat up in her own room as you slowly start to introduce them from a distance. 

Spend a few days feeding the dog and the cat food or treats on either side of the door (but not directly next to it). This helps the animals get used to each other’s scents in association with a positive activity. You can also put a towel or toy that smells like one animal with the other and vice versa. Switch their living spaces once or twice to give them an even bigger chance to get acclimated to each other’s smells.

Step 2: Introduce them Slowly

Once the animals recognize (and feel comfortable with) each other’s scents, you can set up a controlled face-to-face meeting for them. Use these steps to ensure the meeting goes smoothly:

  • Put your dog on a leash and encourage him to sit or lie down
  • Have someone else enter the room with the cat and sit on the opposite side. The cat should not be restrained.
  • Offer small treats to both animals as they look at each other 
  • Speak in calm tones to avoid adding any more stress to the situation
  • Repeat this process a few times (keep interactions short) until neither animal is displaying signs of anxiety or aggression

It is very important to go through this step slowly. Even if it seems like both animals are comfortable in the situation, you do not want to experience a potentially dangerous situation that could be avoided. 

Step 3: Letting Go When Introducing a Cat to Your Dog

After a few successful separate interactions, you can give your curious cat a chance to investigate the dog. Keep the dog on the leash in a seated or lying down position and give the cat a chance to sniff. If your dog tries to get up, command him to sit or lie back down. Use treats to reward positive behavior between both animals. This helps them understand the way you want them to behave and entice them to do it more in the future.

Whether introducing a cat to your dog or caring for your pets, OVRS wants to help you create the safest, happiest environment for your pets. With our helpful ownership resources and specialty veterinary services, we make it easy to give your pets the lives they deserve. To learn more, please call (248) 334-6877.