How to introduce a cat and a dog
Bringing home a new cat when you already have a dog can be a tricky process, and one that needs to be handled with care.
The expression 'fighting like cat and dog' hasn't come from nothing, and sometimes helping these two polar opposites to get along can be tricky.
It's important to gradually introduce the existing pet to the newcomer, and don't rush things.
More often than not, your dog can come off worse in altercations — with a firm scratch to the nose from his feline counterpart — so it's key to help them both to settle. Here are our top tips to ensure harmony in your home when you bring a new pet home:
Ensure your cat has plenty of safe hidey-holes and exit routes so that if he doesn’t want to interact, he can simply leave. Shelves can provide your cat with a safe place to hide up high and away from your dog.
Have an area of your house which is off-limits to your dog, such as upstairs or one room in the house, to provide a quiet place for your cat to snooze uninterrupted. Baby gates across the stairs can be a big help with this.
Keep the two separate for the first few days so as not to ambush the stalwart. During this time, pop your new pet's blanket or toys in one of your existing pet's safe places to gradually introduce their scents to each other. You can also do this by stroking your cat, then stroking your dog, and vice versa.
For initial introductions, let your cat into the same room as your dog, keeping your dog on his lead so you can pull him back in case there is any conflict. Let your cat wander up to meet his new canine companion at his own pace.
After a week or so, if lead-led introductions have gone well, bring your dog into the room off-lead to meet your cat.
If you do encounter some conflict, forcing them to be in the same room will only make the situation worse. Separate them into different rooms until they have both calmed down. Similarly, holding your cat in front of your dog's face will only encourage the former to lash out.
Introducing a feline and canine pheromone spray can also be really helpful to keep the pets nice and calm during the initial few days.