We would love to adopt a cat. Problem is, we already have a dog and we’re not sure if a dog and a cat can get along. Any tips for safely introducing a kitty into our home?
Cat Curious in Garden Oaks
Dear Cat Curious,
Adopting a cat is a wonderful way to add more love (and maybe a little sass) to your home! Dogs and cats can not only get along well enough to share a home, but often become the very best of friends.
While it’s sometimes a bit stressful introducing a new pet into a household, with a little forethought and planning, you can make sure that kitty gets started off on the right “paw” with your dog.
Experts and vets alike have several tips for the introduction process. One important step is to see if it’s possible to introduce your dog to any potential cats before adopting. Many adoption centers encourage prospective cat adopters to bring in their dogs to see how a cat might react. Once you find the kitty of your dreams, here are some of my favorite tips for introducing your new cat to your dog:
Set up safe space for Kitty
Confine your new cat to one medium-sized room with her litter box, food, water and a bed. Feed the resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room. This will help all of them to associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s scents. However, don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until the pets can eat calmly directly on either side of the door. Next, use two doorstops to prop open the door just enough to allow the animals to see each other, and repeat the whole process.
Switch sleeping blankets and beds between your cat and the resident dog so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent. Rub a towel on one animal and put it underneath the food dish of another animal. You should do this with each animal in the house.
Do a room do-si-so
Once your cat is using her litter box and eating regularly while confined, let her have free time in the house while confining the other animals to your cat’s room. This switch provides another way for the animals to experience each other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with her new surroundings without being frightened by the other animals.
Keep pups on short leash
Finally, when you’re ready for face-to-face introductions, keep the dog on a leash in the presence of your cat and see what happens. Be sure to pet the dog and cat at the same time, so that the dog can see that your cat is “one of us.”
Lastly, make sure that your kitty has ample places to get away from the dog, in case she needs a swift retreat. High spots to climb to and rooms where the dog isn’t allowed will make kitty feel secure and help her to understand that this is her new home. With some patience, love and a little planning, you can ensure that your pets settle in nicely to their new living situation and maybe even become BFFs!
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Pet of the Week
Meet Landon. If you’ve never considered yourself a “cat person,” then you’ve never met Landon. This 9-month-old boy is the sweetest, friendliest cat you ever did see! Landon was wandering around an industrial area, going up to every human, begging for food and attention. Luckily, someone took the time to help him and now Landon is ready to find the luckiest family in Houston to adopt him … could that be your family? To learn more, go to www.saveacatrescue.org.