Domain of the Dog, or Kingdom of the Kitty?
Can ‘arch-enemies’ co-habit? Here at Felcana we wanted to share some ideas on the best way to introduce dogs and cats to ensure a peaceful household!
Slow and Steady!
Nobody likes unexpected changes sprung upon them and our pets are no different. The most important thing in ensuring a happy multi-species household is to take things slowly to allow your pets time to get used to each other. This prevents them feeling threatened and guarding what they see as their territory from an invader!
It is a good idea to keep your dog and cat separate for at least the first week – keep them in different rooms and don’t let them meet each other. They will smell the other’s presence around the house and on you. This will allow them time to begin to recognise the other’s scent and associate it with you, a ‘safe’ object, before they meet each other.
Even after they are introduced, it is important each pet has somewhere they can go to feel safe – you can move your cat’s bed, litter tray and food and water to an area your dog cannot reach e.g. higher up, or somewhere they already feel safe.
Dog cages can be a source of comfort for our canines, even just with the door open like a day bed! Stair gates provide a good barrier for first meetings (although beware kittens and small puppies will fit through!) and even boxes with automated cat flaps can all help provide a ‘safe house’ for when things get a bit much.
Eau de Pet
Dogs and cats have a great sense of smell! It really helps to introduce their ‘scent’ to each other before the actual meeting – even just petting one and then going to the other will spread their smell. You could also exchange bedding between pets and let each wander the house at different times.
If your cat becomes very nervous, ask your vet about using a natural feline pheromone diffuser to help keep them calm. These produce an odour, that is unnoticable to humans, but is relaxing and reduces anxiety in cats.
The first meeting between two new pets is an exciting time for all the family, humans included!
The most important thing to prevent is a chase – introduce them in an enclosed area, ensure dogs are on leads or behind a stair gate, and provide a cat bed or cardboard box as a ‘safe harbour’ if things get a bit too much.
Dogs tend to be overly enthusiastic and can ‘dive’ at the cat in their excitement, whereas cats are more considered and tend to approach ‘new’ things slowly and with care – don’t try to force them together as you will likely get bitten and scratched in a panic!
Some natural ‘chasing’ breeds such as terriers or greyhounds may take a little longer to learn that chasing the cat is not an option – have patience!
Getting to know you
Once they have met, allow your pets regular short meetings, in various areas around the house. The time taken for acceptance of each other varies greatly – some pets get on immediately whilst others take several months to get used to each other, so don’t despair! You can gradually remove any barriers between your pets and increase length of time of meetings until you are happy leaving them alone together.
Other tips on ensuring a successful multi-pet household include:
Keep cat food shut away or use individual automatic feeders – cat food is extremely desirable to most dogs and your cat won’t take kindly to food being stolen from under their noses!
Make sure your pets meet during a calm period in the household – try to avoid introducing them during parties, festivities, visiting family and friends or other stressful events.
Try not to introduce more than one or two pets at a time!
Many dogs and cats have a fantastic relationship and become the best of friends. Others may never be best buddies but can quite happily share the same house. Remember all our pets are individuals with their own quirky characters – we never know what they may do, but with a little help we can encourage friendship not fighting!