In the not-oft contentious world of pet lovers, there remains a debate that has raged on since the beginning of time: dogs or cats? Although this debate can spark an enraged point of view on either side, there are those pet lovers who straddle the line and make their home with both species.
Nuclear pet families make for endless amounts of love and fun, but the prospect can be somewhat daunting at the very beginning. It is rare that a dog and cat are introduced to a home at exactly the same time, and so infringing on one’s territory can be an issue for a pet owner introducing a new pet into the mix.
While cats are wonderful, loving creatures, they definitely take their owner and home very seriously. Their natural instincts can cause them to fear larger animals, and introducing a dog to a cat’s home can create some issues for the cat. However, some precautions can be made to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and in no time at all, your furry companions can be the best of friends.
Before the Dog Comes Home
If the opportunity presents itself to plan for the dog’s arrival for some time before it is due to come home, there are a few prior measures you can take to “introduce” the animals before they physically meet.
Bring in a towel or blanket that the dog has been sleeping on for some time and switch it out for something that the cat likes to sleep on. Animals familiarize with each other through smell. Switching out the towel or blanket will help them get to know each other’s scent and might make a physical meeting slightly less stressful.
Record the dog’s barks on a smartphone and play it for the cat a low volume. Cats are quiet creatures and can get spooked easily, playing this might help the cat get used to the sounds associated with the new dog.
Setting Up the Physical Meeting
If there is an opportunity to have the pets meet before the actual move-in, get them together in a room for an hour or so. This will allow them to slowly acclimate to one another.
Make sure to keep the dog on a leash, but allow it to sniff and settle into the environment. Positively reinforce both animals by giving treats and petting them. Some low background noise like music or television might also help to decrease the stress for both animals. If the cat is showing signs of extreme stress, a few drops of lavender oil on the back of its neck may have a calming effect.
Once the Dog is Fully Integrated in the Home
Try to encourage the cat to interact with the dog on a daily basis. If the cat typically hides from stressful situations in a specific area, say the basement, restrict its access to it throughout the day.
It is also important to keep the dog out of the litter box and cat feeding areas, as it might start cleaning them out. Set up a baby gate with enough space for the cat to squeeze under to get to these essential areas.
If the cat is not too perturbed by its new housemate, set up their water bowls right next to eachother. With enough interaction, these two may soon be drinking out of the same bowl and becoming best buddies for life.