Introducing pets to each other is no easy feat, but it isn’t a fruitless endeavor either. If you’re committed to having a dog and cat in the same house, you’ll enjoy watching an unlikely friendship develop, and they’ll benefit, too. Having a second pet can help reduce separation anxiety and relieve stress in dogs and cats when you’re out of the house.
If you already have one pet, ensure they’ve been in the same home for at least a year before introducing a new pet. If you have no pets, consider adopting simultaneously, so they can begin adjusting to one another immediately. Ideally, you can find two already bonded — ask your local shelter for any buddies they may have available for adoption.
How to introduce a dog and a cat
The most essential thing to remember when introducing a cat and dog is to go slowly and be willing to back up a step if needed. As always, patience is vital when dealing with four-legged family members (and to be honest, two-legged human members, too!).
1. Divide the house
You can use baby gates or exercise pens for this, or, depending on the layout of your house, simply close doors. In either case, ideal barriers will be opaque.
2. Visual introduction
Switch to a see-through barrier but continue the shared feeding times and scent swapping.
3. Swap scents and share meals
Sharing things like blankets or bedding from one animal with the other will help increase their familiarity with one another. Once you settle your cat and dog into their individual spaces, start feeding them simultaneously on their sides of the divider.
4. Remove the boundary
When both animals are ready (i.e., showing no signs of fear or aggression), you can remove the barrier for supervised interactions. Consider keeping your dog leashed and providing a place for your cat to hide or get away. While continuing the shared mealtime, don’t feed them too closely together. And pay close attention to their respective body language. Positive signs to watch for in dogs include a sweeping tail wag, no staring, and relaxed ears. For cats, you want to see a relaxed body, a tail in the air, and relaxed ears.
5. Increase movement and remove the leash
Keep the leash on your dog; try moving around more with both animals. After moving around with the leash, try removing the leash and observe how the animals interact before moving on to the next step.
6. Observe from a distance
Start by placing yourself farther away from both animals within the same room, then move to another room, all the while keeping an ear out for any trouble. If all else fails, don’t lose hope — you can hire a professional to help.
Introducing dogs and cats takes time. It’s not uncommon for either species to be afraid of the other. Their personalities will also play a big role in how much aggression they show each other. You can encourage a good relationship by not rushing them and letting them get to know each other on their own terms.
Other considerations for having a dog and cat in the same house
There are no guarantees, of course, as each dog or cat is unique and has its own temperament, but it is important to do your research and learn what breeds of cats and dogs are most likely to get along with one another. There are challenges associated with cats and dogs living together, but when you can reap the benefits of unconditional love, isn’t it worth it? Remember, the steps to success are to consider the pros and cons of living with both a cat and dog, move slowly and carefully through the process and carefully consider the breed, temperament, and personality of each furry family member.
Whether introducing your dog to a cat or vice versa, adding a new family member is an excellent time to evaluate your pet insurance needs. Many providers offer pet insurance discounts if you have more than one pet policy. Some even have specific policies for insuring multiple pets that cover more than one type of animal