Bringing home a new pet is an exciting event, but care must be taken if you already have a furry friend who may not appreciate a new roommate. This is particularly true if one pet is a dog and the other's a cat! However, these natural enemies can learn to tolerate one another and even get along if you take it slow and introduce them in the right way. You'll need to watch your pets closely during this transitional period and nip negative behavior in the bud to be successful. The following are a few tips to make life easier and protect the best interests of both pets.
Consider a Period of Separation
Before the big introduction, some pet owners may choose to keep the dog and cat separated for a few days or even weeks. This allows the animals to get used to one another's smells before they actually meet, giving them some extra time to adjust. You can make small household changes before the new arrival comes home, such as moving your cat's litter box or putting up baby gates. This gives your cat more time to get used to the changes.
Give Your Cat Room to Hide
When the time comes to make a face to face introduction, be sure that your cat has a place to run and hide if he wants to. Whether the cat or dog is the new pet, cats cherish having the freedom to run. If you don't give your cat any escape route, he'll feel trapped, threatened, and may lash out as a result. The best hiding spots are elevated, so your cat can feel safe yet still see what's going on down below. As the cat observes the dog, he'll feel more comfortable over time and may come down to say hello.
Watch Your Dog Closely
Some breeds will do better with cats than others. Breeds with herding or hunting instincts will immediately want to give chase to the cat, so they should be restrained with dog leads at first. Be sure that you know the dog's background and whether or not it has been around cats before if you choose a shelter dog. During supervised playtime, allow the dog to see the cat first through a barrier. If the dog tries to lunge at the cat, redirect his attention to a toy instead.
Choose Younger Animals if Possible
If you really want your cat and dog to get along, it's best to introduce them when they are young. It's easier to introduce a puppy to a cat than an older dog, because they are less dangerous to cats and more open to making new friends. Similarly, a kitten may be less fearful of even an adult dog. You'll still need to keep a close eye on them, because kittens and puppies love to play and don't know their own strength.
Bear in mind that it can take weeks or even months for your two pets to get along. Praise your dog and reward him new treats from Dogscorner.co.uk or your local pet store for good behavior towards the cat. Even after time has gone by, you'll want to keep up a harmonious household by giving your cat a dog-free zone and your dog plenty of exercise. With luck, they'll become the best of friends!
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