Dogs and cats are known not to be on good terms. Some people love having both of them in their house and have been figuring out a way to help them live as harmoniously as possible. It is important to note that this isn’t a fast process and it sometimes takes months for them to get used to each other. Here are some tips on how to painlessly introduce a dog to a cat for the first time so that they lead a happy life along with you despite their deep-seated drive to go against each other.
Try to match their personalities
We’re putting emphasis on this because it will greatly help the following process of introduction of the animals to each other. Closely observe both of them. For example, if your dog has displayed signs of aggressive behavior towards smaller animals before, such as cats or squirrels, maybe your best bet is not to have a cat at all. Also, if your cat is timid and shy, pair it up with a dog that is of the same character.
If your dog is too lively and loves chasing, your gentle cat might be stressed. On the other hand, pairing up aggressive cats with shy dogs is not a very good option either, as the cat could be frightened or irritated by dog’s presence and scratch it despite the fact that the dog isn’t showing any ill intentions.
It would be great if you could put them in adjacent rooms so they can learn about each other’s sounds and smell through the wall. You can also put a blanket with the smell of the cat in the room of your dog and vice versa so that you prevent them from being upset or surprised when they see each other face to face.
The other way to go about this is to have your dog on the leash and get it closer to your cat’s isolation room. Let it inspect the area without letting it in. This way the dog will realize the existence of a new member. It is OK if this sparks some interest in your dog as long as it doesn’t have any abrupt, aggressive reactions which it should be rewarded for.
Make sure that they are provided with enough food and toys as well as your attention. It means that you’ll have to concrete time to both of your pets in order to create a credulous relationship that will be helpful in further steps of the introduction.
Getting ready for meeting in person
For the purpose of sliding through the introduction process without a hitch, prepare both animals. The dog should learn the ‘’stay’’ and ‘’sit’’ commands before seeing the cat for the first time. Also, before meeting in person, it is suggested that you play with your dog until it’s tired and calm which will greatly add to the smoothness of the introduction.
On the other hand, the cat has to be accustomed to being in a small crate for short periods of time in order to be able to fulfill other steps of introducing your new dog to the cat. Sometimes, cat’s getting used to the crate isn’t so effortless. You might have to use some food or toys in order to lure it into the crate.
The feline might seem frightened and unsteady in the crate so you may have to repeat the session a few times a day until it feels completely relaxed in the cage. Meanwhile, your dog should be confined in a separate room or out for a walk.
First visual meeting without physical contact
This step will help your pets to get accustomed to each other’s looks and Try to bring them closer and closer together each time. First sessions should last for 5 minutes. The more relaxed and comfortable the animals get with each other the longer the sessions can be. Don’t forget to reward your dog each time it behaves well in front of the cat, i.e. ignores it and doesn’t make sudden moves and growls due to its presence.
Letting the cat loose in front of the dog
This step involves the dog being on leash and cat trying to be at ease while moving freely around the canine. The dog should be in the lay-down position while the cat slowly gets out of the crate. Ideally, the dog will not pay attention to the cat. However, sometimes it happens that the cat won’t come out because it’s afraid. In order to deal with this, you can have someone take the dog outside for a few moments until the cat gets out of the crate. The dog, then, should be walked into the room slowly and on the leash.
Unleashing the dog
After 2 weeks, the pets are usually ready to be loose in front of each other. If you see that they completely disregard each other and are minding their own business without any inkling of them being agitated by the other’s presence, you can consider that your efforts to introduce a dog to a cat were lucrative. We still have to warn you that even after the period of introduction they may not be completely prepared to be left unsupervised. Some cats are very territorial and some dogs can get very prey-driven, which is why they have to be monitored at all times in order to stop them from fighting.
Conclusion: Is it possible for a cat and a dog to get along well?
It is definitely not unusual for a cat and a dog to be friends. Although it is not in their nature, with great care and patience of the owner, the likeliness for you to live with these 2 in harmony spikes to 100 percent. Bear in mind, however, that you should not permit that they work it out on their own! This means that the probability of successfully introducing a dog to your cat significantly drops without proper attention given to their personalities, feelings and personal space.