Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | January 12, 2007

Dog – Cat Introductions

Dear Pet Column,

 I have a medium sized dog that I have never seen interact around cats but who is a fairly mellow guy.  I have decided that I am ready to adopt a cat and wondering what is the best and safest way to bring a new cat into the home?

 Sincerely, Careful Cat Casa

 Dear Careful Cat, I am so glad that you wrote as it is critical that cat-dog introductions be done properly for the safety of all involved, as well as for the best outcome to occur of the new cat being able to easily adjust to its new environment and family.  Most dogs do well sharing their casa with felines, however, some do not and it is important to determine which side of the fence your dog digs.  So, let us first proceed with caution. 

 You will need two people when making the initial cat/dog introductions.  One person to hold and watch the dog on a leash, and the other to hold and watch the cat in a crate or at a good distance from the dog.  Both situations allow for the cat to feel safe and not threatened by the dog.  If you have more than one dog, introduce the cat separately to each dog. 

 Hold the dog on a loose lead and observe the dog’s body language and allow the cat to wander freely if it does not appear aggressive toward the dog.  Ask the dog to sit or lay down and praise or reward him/her for ignoring the cat.  If the dog becomes very focused, takes on a stiff body posture, barks, whines, or lunges, do not allow the dog near the cat.   Otherwise continue with the praise and allowing the dog and cat to meet calmly.

 If the dog is overly interested in the cat, put the cat in a separate room with a barrier preventing the dog access but allowing visibility.  Work with the dog to distract its attention from the cat – allowing short periods of viewing throughout the day and extended until the dog appears to lose interest in the cat.  Depending upon the dog this process may take hours to days, it is important to be patient and not rush the introduction as it could go irreversibly wrong.  Make certain you fully trust your dog’s behavior around the cat before ever leaving them alone together.

When introducing a kitten to a dog use extra caution as young kittens may not display protective fear around the dog.   Even if your dog does not appear to want to injure the kitten it could play too roughly and inadvertently injure the kitten, so use caution and do not leave them unattended until you are beyond certain they will play safely.

 Introducing a puppy to an adult cat also requires a sense of caution, depending on the energy level of the puppy and attitude of the cat.  Most adults can easily swat a sense of respect into a puppy, but if your cat is fearful of the puppy it may need your support in establishing this deserved respect.  Again, separating the cat through the use of a barrier is effective until the puppy learns the rules of the house.

Animal behaviorists can be very helpful in assisting with the introductory process if the adjustment phase is not going very well.  Also, call the SCHS Animal Helpline for additional support and advice and happy extended family making!

Or, you can get a big dark fluffy regal adult male cat that nobody would want to mess with, such as myself.  I guess I forgot to introduce myself.  My name is Kashmir and I am a hunk of a guy waiting here at the shelter for a home with or without a pesky dog.  Although you would still want to introduce me with care to your dog I have a sense that I will shortly be ruling the home – in my cat chow commercial quality lounge-king style.  I am young, laid-back, cool, and although neutered still have plenty of mojo-ness.  Come check out my cool vibe today!

 SCHS offers animal humane services to San Miguel and Ouray Counties.  Contact Kelly at 626-2273 x4 for more information on volunteer, foster, and community education programs.  For information about adopting, reporting a lost pet, the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance & Rebate Program, or other pet questions, call 626-2273 x1 (SCHS Animal Hotline). For more information on SCHS and to visit our shelter pets online go to: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.

 Pet Questions for next week’s column can be sent to:  vol-ed@secondchancehumanesociety.org

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