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Friday, July 21, 2017

Cat Meets Dog: How to Ensure a Happy and Safe Cohabitation

There is no reason that a dog and a cat can’t live together in perfect harmony. They’re not natural competitors in the wild and don’t actually have any beef with each other; dogs just happens to be a lot larger and stronger than cats. To introduce a new dog to a resident cat means than your dog needs to understand that the feline isn’t a toy; if you don’t put sufficient time and energy into making this happen, you’re going to end up with a very unhappy kitty.

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Image by: Pexels

Follow these steps, however, from bringing the puppy home to the final introduction and cohabitation, to make their relationship as smooth as possible. It requires an obedient dog from the beginning, so make sure you’re up to date on the puppy training.

Bringing the Puppy Home

From the moment your new pet steps into your home, it should be on a leash. The initial meeting is a sensitive moment and you’d want to send a clear signal to both the confused cat and the energetic puppy that inside means being calm and under control. Don’t let the two of them meet yet - they still have weeks left of getting used to each other’s presence via scents.

Find a confined room for both your pets; you’d want a room where your cat feels perfectly safe and comfortable, as well as a place where you can keep your dog under control. They should both have access to food, water, a bed, and toys, as well as anything else that ensures their happiness. If you have a stair gate anywhere in your home, you should make use of it when introducing your pets later on. That way, they’ll be able to see each other without having access to other’s space.

Keep in mind that introducing a small kitten to a large dog requires even more care and attention. Not only are kittens more vulnerable due to their size, but they also tend to be more playful. Ensure that the kitten doesn’t get the chance to excite your dog too much and that she doesn’t slip through the stair gate.

Scent Swapping

Put something with your dog’s scent in your cat’s room, and the same with one of your cat’s things - a blanket or a toy are good alternatives. You want them to get as used to each other as possible, and exposed to the smell of the mysterious other when they’re in a comfortable situation.

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Image by: Pexels

Spend time with each pet and make sure neither feels ignored; pet and stroke the coat of your puppy and treat your cat the same way without washing your hands. This has the same principle as scent swapping with toys, but this time you’re bringing yourself into the picture as well. You’re not just a comfortable and safe person to them - you’re also their leader. A new and unsettling scent is suddenly a lot more comforting when it’s mixed with yours.

Keep the scent swapping up for a while before they meet. With a damp cloth, gently stroke the new family member’s fur and dab it around your home to spread its smell. It’s what your new pet would have done in any way if it had the chance; when you take care of it, you avoid having the two of them meet prematurely.

The First Meeting

After a few weeks - or even months of this, your two fur children are ready to meet. Remember that the longer you keep up the subtle work of scent swapping and making them get used to the other’s presence, the better their foundation for getting along will be. Your cat is the weaker one of the two, so make sure she has an easy escape route back to the safe room.

The desired outcome of these first few meetings is to keep a positive tone, prevent the dog from chasing the cat and allowing the cat to observe the dog’s behavior. Cats like to watch from a distance, and it’s a good idea to let the cat approach when she feels like it - if you were to carry the cat yourself, you might end up with a couple of scratches.

Have some treats handy for each of them and keep the dog behind the stair gate. Each animal reacts differently, and it’s difficult to predict their behavior - but with a young puppy, he is likely to get a bit excited at the sight of your cat. Use the dog treats to distract him from barking or becoming too energized, as well as to reward calm behavior. Keep an eye on the signals your dog is sending, by the way; if he stares at your kitten for a long time, use the treats to break up the interaction.

Developing Relations

If any of these first meetings ends sourly, go back to keeping them in separate rooms and swap scents as you used to. When they’re able to go through a few sessions under your supervision, without barking or appearing frightened, you can allow them to interact more freely - although you should still supervise them to make sure your cat is safe. It’s a good idea to keep your dog on a house line to prevent any chasing, as well as installing pet doors so that they both have access to their areas. Look at the best pet doors for dogs as well as the best ones for cats before you decide.

Some dog breeds are more prone to barking and chasing than others, and you know your dog’s behavior better than any. End the interaction as soon as either of them appears worked up or frightened. If each of these first meetings can be kept short and sweet, you’re in for a long and happy cohabitation.

Remember not to expect too much of your pets to begin with. The goal is to see both of them accept the other rather than chasing them or feeling frightened; if you master this, you’ve already come a long way.


1 comment:

Gail A Passmore said...

Yes we have to care our pets. Because pets are like our children.

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