9 Tips for Introducing a New Puppy to Your Cat
If your family loves pets, it's natural that at some point you may wind up with both dogs and cats as part of your household. While most of the time dogs and cats can live quite well with each other - often becoming best friends - it takes some time and patience from you to make it happen.
This is especially true when you already have a resident cat and decide to add a new puppy to the mix, since puppies tend to have plenty of energy and are always eager to have a new playmate.
But when it's time to introduce puppy and kitty, there are a few things you should always keep in mind to guarantee the best results.
To learn the secrets of creating a happy household that contains both a feline and canine family member, here are nine tips to make the transition much easier.
Introducing a New Puppy to Your Cat
1. Confine Your Puppy
When bringing a new puppy into your household, it's usually best to have a room or crate set up where your puppy can be confined for a few days.
Since you don't want to force a meeting between the two animals right off the bat, having a separate room for your puppy can allow you to give both puppy and kitty individualized attention before the much-anticipated meeting.
To make sure your puppy starts to feel at home right away, make sure you've got lots of creature comforts around, including food, water, and toys.
2. Get Used to Each Other's Scents
Even though your puppy may be in a separate room, it's still quite possible to start getting each animal used to the other's scent. To do so, you can start by letting them interact through the door to your puppy's room.
Usually, both animals will sniff each other through the crack at the bottom of the door, and also paw at the door or underneath to each other.
You can also take a blanket from your puppy's room and give it to your kitty, who can then examine it and start to get used to the new scent in the house.
3. Choosing a Meeting Room
Once you feel comfortable enough to have an initial meeting between puppy and kitty, make sure you choose a room where both animals will feel as comfortable as possible.
To get the best results, always use a room that is large enough to allow the dog and cat to stay on opposite sides, where they can be comfortable and assess one another.
Make sure the room doesn't have any places where your pets can hide, since this can lead to a very unproductive first date.
4. Always Have Your Puppy Leashed
During the first meeting, always have your puppy leashed. By doing this, you can bring the cat into the room without fear of the puppy running after it right away. While there may be some initial growling or hissing, that's only natural.
By having some of each animal's favorite toys in the room, you can often diffuse a tense situation by distracting them and playing with them. Much like human children, once they discover a common interest such as playing with a ball, they may start to become fast friends.
5. Reinforce Good Behavior
As your puppy and kitty interact more and more with one another, always remember to reinforce good behavior exhibited by both pets. For example, if the puppy sniffs the cat and does not try to chase it, offer it a treat as a reward for good behavior.
Likewise, if your kitty goes nose-to-nose with the new puppy and does not smack at the dog, give it a treat as well.
And as always, talk to each animal in a calm, soothing voice, and give each an equal amount of affection. By doing so, neither will feel ignored, which will help to keep them a bit more relaxed.
6. Always Have Separate Food Stations
Once you feel comfortable enough to have doggy and kitty together in the same living area, always be sure to give each one their own feeding area. In doing so, each will be able to have an area in the house where they can be relaxed while eating.
And remember, since cat food is often too rich for dogs and dog food lacks the proper nutrients for cats, it may be best to keep their feeder and even their water bowl areas in places where the other cannot have easy access.
Along with keeping their food separate, also put your cat's litter box in an area that is not easily accessed by the puppy. By doing so, your cat will be able to use the box in a relaxed manner whenever necessary, reducing the chances it will be nervous and start to urinate or defecate in other places within the home.
7. Visiting the Veterinarian
Of course, whenever you get a new pet, always make sure you include a visit to the veterinarian as one of the first things you have on your list. This is especially important when you are bringing a new pet into a household where other pets already live, since you don't want a pet who may be ill to have the added stress of trying to get used to a new four-legged family member.
Therefore, always make sure your puppy has a thorough evaluation from your vet, and also do the same for your kitty.
8. Give Your Kitty Some Space
As anyone who has cats knows, their feline friends love to have some space that's all their own. This will become even more important with having a new puppy to deal with, since kitty may want to chill out now and then.
To help them do so, consider buying one or two kitty condos to put in various spots in your home, and also maybe clear off a shelf or two so that kitty can enjoy being up high and looking down on its new companion.
9. Always Consider Personalities
Remember that just like humans, dogs and cats also have different personalities. Therefore, if your cat is naturally shy, take your time with the introductions, and always be willing to adjust your plans accordingly.
For example, you may want to limit your initial meetings to only a few minutes, or perhaps give your kitty some extra attention after each puppy encounter to soothe its nerves.
While this process may try your patience from time to time, eventually both your kitty and puppy will learn to tolerate and perhaps even come to love one another. By using common sense and giving each pet plenty of love, chances are you'll soon have one big happy family.
By Emily Parker, Catological.com
***Let us know in the comments below, do you have any tips for introducing a new puppy to your cat?