Households with a Cat | PAWS Chicago

Households with a Cat

Introducing your dog to a cat is a much slower process than introducing him to another dog.

There is a serious risk involved if you introduce these two animals incorrectly. Be sure that you go slow and follow the steps outlined below. The ultimate goal is to have your cat be confident that your dog does not pose a threat. Once this is established, the opportunity for a wonderful friendship can begin.

How to Introduce the Dog to the Cat

  1. When you bring your new dog home, keep him separated from the cat for a week or so. Have a separate space set up for the cat with a litter box, toys, water, bed and a scratching post.
  2. Before letting the pets see each other, let them smell each other’s bedding. Scent is the most important factor in cat-to-dog introductions.
  3. Encourage interaction through the door. Place your cat’s food near the door of her room so she stays close to it. Your dog will smell and hear her. Give your dog treats near the door of the cat’s room so he associates it with good things.
  4. Put your dog in the bedroom and let the cat roam around the house. This lets your cat explore and get exercise. Then put your cat back in her room and let the dog walk around and smell her without having to see the new cat. This is a great way to get them used to each other’s scent.
  5. Reward obedience on the dog’s part with a treat.
  6. Now it is time for the introduction. Make sure your dog is wearing a properly fitted collar and leash. Have another family member bring in the cat and have them sit down with the cat on their lap at an opposite end of the room. Repeat this step several times until both the cat and the dog are tolerating each other without signs of fear or aggression.
  7. Move the animals closer with the dog still on the leash and the cat gently held in a lap. If the cat does not like to be held, use a crate or carrier. If the cat becomes frightened, increase the distance between the animals and progress more slowly. Initially, the dog should be wearing a collar and a leash when the cat is present so that any attempt to bark at or chase can be stopped instantly. Praise and treats should be lavished on the dog when he is calm and obedient in the cat’s presence.
  8. Keep the dog and cat separated when you are not home until you are certain that the animals are safe around each other unsupervised. Be sure the cat does not have to pass through or by the dog’s area to get to her food, water or litter box. If your dog enjoys raiding the litter box, place a gate across the entrance of the room where the litter box is kept to allow the cat to pass through but not the dog.

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