I have had a few inquiries lately on how to introduce cats and dogs. So I thought I would repost this article.
The ideal way of course is to have both the puppy and kitten grow up together. Dogs and cats can become great friends but just like with people, there are some who may not get along, no matter what you try to do. I have both cats and dogs and yes some play well together and some don’t.
It can take a while for your cat and dog to become used to being around each other, there are no quick fixes, it could take weeks or even months. One of the main things not to do, is try to force your cat and dog to meet each other, they have to do it on their own terms. Both the cat and dog need their own space, somewhere safe where they can go. A dog crate is ideal for your dog and the cats need a bolt hole too, such as another room or the like.
When first introducing your dog to your cat, make sure the cat is safe in another room and your dog is on the leash, you must have control of the situation, so you need to be confident in what you are doing as there really is no room, for human error.
If your dog isn’t great at listening or focusing on you, work needs to be done, obedience training and enrichment games such as Canine Parkour will help with that. You need to have your dogs full attention.
So now it begins, let your cat out of the room and let it wander around, you should have your dog on a lead and focusing on you, have it sit, if your dog starts jumping around make it sit and tell it to Leave It” if it starts barking tell it to be “Quiet” if that doesn’t work, try some water and vinegar in a squirt bottle. Squirt it in your dogs face. The dog crate is also a useful tool, crate your dog and let the cat in the room to wander around. You have to be watching all the time in other words no distractions. If your dog starts barking you can also cover the crate so the dog can’t see, until it calms down. Depending on your circumstances the introductions may have to be little and often. If you are out all day, never leave the cat and dog home alone together. Make sure they are both safe and away from each other.
After a few weeks of constant and consistent training, you maybe able to let your dog off the leash or out of the crate with a muzzle on and watch how the cat and dog interact.
Some may think this is harsh or not fair on the dog but its better than finding your cat dead. Even after all this training, your dog and cat maybe ok when you are around but when you are not around, all bets are off.
I personally have a dog in the house with me, who killed a cat in his past life before he came to live with me, that was why he was rehomed.
My cat has grown up with dogs but it took her 3 weeks before she even came to check Zues out. I used the crate or put him in the kennel when I was’t around. After quite a long time they lost interest in each other,
I corrected Zues every time he even looked at my cat the wrong way. Now I can leave both of them, home alone together. They are not friends but they tolerate each other and both have their own space. I have on occasion caught them sleeping together, if you can call it that, Zues at one end of his couch and Turbo at the other.
Here are a couple of good articles, one written by Ed Fawley, from Leerburg Dog Training and the other by HEART animal rescue and adoption team Inc
Introducing Dogs or Puppies into Homes with Cats by Ed Fawley
Introducing a new cat to Pets by HEART