The dog and cat may eventually become friends and playmates, or may
simply share space peacefully. Recognizing the needs of each -
and taking some extra time in the beginning - should help the process.
- Make sure that the new animal will not be exposing the
resident to fleas, worms, or other parasites. Get a vet
check-up for the new animal before it is introduced to the
- The cat's first reaction is likely going to be to hiss
and/or to run. This is normal.
- If your dog is not obedience-trained, start immediately.
Particularly important are the commands "sit," "stay," and
- Supervise all interactions, keeping the dog on a leash,
until you are certain that he is cat-safe. If the dog
starts to chase the cat or is at all aggressive, give a
quick jerk on the leash, and use the "sit" or "leave it"
commands. Praise the dog (or give a treat) the instant he
complies and stops trying to get to the cat.
- If you feel that the dog is behaving well after about an
hour, let go of the leash, but be prepared to grab it or
step on it if he starts after the cat.
- If the cat swats the dog on the nose, distract the dog
with a toy; don't punish the cat. Sometimes one swat is
all it takes to establish the rules.
- Speak in a calm and soothing voice, using both animals'
- Don't punish either animal if there are accidents or
spraying in the house. Simply clean it up, using an
enzymatic cleanser, without comment.
- Create a safe place for the cat that the dog absolutely
cannot access. For a small dog or puppy, this may mean a
using baby gate, or it may be a cat door to a room. If you
are adding a dog to a cat household, do this in advance, so
that the cat has time to adjust to the new arrangements
before having to adjust to the dog. Ideally, the cat will
have an escape location in every room, even if it is just
the top of a bookcase.
- It's a good idea to put the cat's litter box and food and
water dishes in the safe area. Many dogs will eat cat feces,
and if the dog ambushes the cat in the litter box, the cat
may become afraid to use the box and go elsewhere. Also, cat
food is too rich for dogs, and dog food lacks nutrients that
are essential for cats' eyesight and heart function, so
each must have his own food.
- If the resident pet enjoyed a particular play time or other
routine, maintain that.
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