Before we ever even bring a pet through the front door to our homes, most of us have an idea of whether we’re a dog person or a cat person.
Likely, the domestic pet that you favor ends up being the first one you bring home to call your own.
But, sometimes along the way, we end up branching out -- whether due to a new relationship, a litter of stray kittens ending up in your backyard, or a friend searching for a rehome for their pet -- and we find ourselves in possession of both a dog and a cat.
Not to fret -- regardless of what cartoon shows have been portrayed to us since we were young and impressionable, dogs and cats can peacefully coexist with each other.
If you’ve found yourself in this precarious situation and are nervous about introducing your furry children to each other, follow these safety practices, tips, and precautions to ensure that they get started on the right foot.
This is no story of a tortoise and a hare, but the moral is: slow and steady wins the race.
When introducing your new animal to the resident pet, there is no medal for 1st place! Introduce them to each other slowly and be patient with their progress along the way.
Keep Them Separate (At First)
Your cat, whether they’re new or the resident, will likely be nervous about the dog at first -- so, they’ll have no debate against going into a confined space for a while.
Keep your cat confined in a room with everything they’ll need for a good time, until everyone has calmed down and is ready to move on. Do this for 3-4 days, especially if you are still in the process of getting vaccinations and vet check-ups taken care of!
While still separated, you can start getting them closer to each other. When it’s time for breakfast or dinner, place their food and water bowl on their respective side of the door. This way, their food is near the smell of the opposite pet, and they can start associating happy thoughts with their new sibling.
Swap It Out
Another great method to utilize while your pets remain separated is to swap out various blankets or toys that were in their room so that the opposite pet is exposed to their scent.
Begin Face-to-Face Meetings
Once feeding time has been mastered and the pets seem to be getting acclimated, start to introduce them to each other face-to-face. Find common, neutral ground and let them come and go as they wish.
At first, definitely start off with your dog on the leash. As they continue to get more comfortable with each other, you can take the leash off!
Safety Tips & Precautions
Make sure your dog knows basic commands!
This is a big one, especially if you have a puppy or newly adopted dog. Start teaching them basic obedience commands such as “sit”, “down”, and “leave it”.
Dogs are much stronger than cats, so it’s important to make sure that you are able to diffuse any situation that may arise with your dog and cat once they’re comfortably mingling with each other and playing!
Don't underestimate your cat.
Cats may be small, but they are mighty! Of course, many pet owners are nervous of their dogs attacking their cats. But, don't underestimate your cat!
Cats definitely bite back, and it can result in injuring your dog. Just as you would with your dog, watch for reactions from your cat when they're interacting. They're notorious for swatting their paws and clawing at the face!
Pay attention to body language.
Knowing the body language and cues of each pet is extremely important to make sure that they’re remaining peaceful when they’re with each other.
Additionally, being aware of your dog’s breed and age are important to consider.
Proceed with caution!
Remember, every pet is different and for some -- it may take more time for some than others, depending on personalities, breeds, and ages.
Stay patient and continue to separate the pets when they are unsupervised.
They’ll be best friends before you know it!