We recently had a patient in our Austin animal clinic, a little dog (pictured to the left) who had never been around a cat before. If you’ve been to our clinic in the past, you’ve likely met our cat Delilah (also above). Delilah’s used to other animals coming and going, so all went pretty smoothly, but that’s not always the case when you’re introducing pets for the first time.
Easing your cat and/or dog into a new situation is typically the best approach when bringing in a new pet. Here’s some great advice for when you need to introduce dogs and cats, advice that could save you and your pets a trip to the veterinarian.
1. Dog or cat, it’s important to give your pet time to adjust. You’ve heard your veterinarian say prevention is the best way – that goes for introducing your pets too. When you bring a new pet home, be sure to continue to lavish attention on your current pet, so that they don’t see your new pet as a threat.
2. Particularly if your new pet is a cat, be sure to give them their own room and space to get acclimated to before introducing them to your other pets. You don’t want them at each other’s throats. This will help them feel like they have a safe space of their own. Give them plenty of individual attention and playtime and slowly allow them to interact with one another.
3. Let your animals get used to each other’s scents. At first, let them smell each other under a door and then eventually lead up to supervised visits. Issues can often stem from them not being familiar with each other’s scents. You can try to switch each animal’s personal items, like a mat or bed that they sleep on into the other’s room, so that they can familiarize themselves with the other‘s scent prior to introduction.
4. Ask your veterinarian about Feliway for your dog and/or cat to help promote feelings of safety and ease tension in new situations.
5. What to Do When Your Dog Attempts to Intimidate Your Cat (or vice versa)?
If you already have a cat and you’d like to bring a dog into the family (or vice versa), you’ll have to see if both the dog and cat hit it off. In many cases they do, but not always. If you’ve tried the first 4 steps with no luck and you still find them staring at one another in a standoff, try to distract the dog with treats, speak in a pleasant tone of voice and if he/she is on a leash, gently use the leash to lead the dog away. Once the dog is separated from the cat, then give the dog some treats. If this works, keep working at it, until the dog is accustomed to it, so he no longer intimidates the cat.
If given enough time, and some patience, introducing a cat and dog to one another can have great benefits. Both would have a lifelong friend and family member, and that camaraderie will help enhance not only your life, but theirs as well.
If you find yourself in this position and need a little assistance, ATX Animal Clinic can help you work out a plan and provide guidance on how your cat and dog may be able to better get along, as well as other animal behavioral issues. Delilah will also be happy to offer her thoughts as well.