Top five tips to introduce your cat and dog

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By: Chryssa Rich
Pets Best Insurance Marketing Associate
Monica the cat sits at the top of the stairs, terrified of the dog on the floor below.
On the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page, we recently asked our fans “What’s the best way to introduce a new dog to a household with cats?” I have to admit, I was hoping for a magic answer for myself. Ever since I brought my dog Jayda home about three months ago, my shy tabby Monica won’t come downstairs.

More than a dozen responses shed light on tips and tricks pet owners have used at home. One fan admitted, “Wish I knew, tried and failed,” but others had great ideas from which we can all learn.

1. Do your homework
Some dog breeds just aren’t meant to live with cats. Bringing them home could spell disaster for a cat and heartache for the pet owner. Some dog breeds cat owners should be wary of include Jack Russell Terriers (and most other terrier breeds), Weimaraners, Doberman Pinchers and Greyhounds. While some can be trained to respect a household cat, they often still have strong prey drives that could lead them to attack and kill neighborhood cats, or even the family cat if left unattended. Generally cat-friendly breeds include Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles and Pugs.

2. Give them their space
Keep cats and dogs in their own spaces at first so they can get used to the sounds and scents of each other. One fan commented, “The puppy had his own room for a couple days . . .[the cats] got to sniff him through the door and a day or two later through a baby gate.” Her dog is now three-years-old and all of the pets get along perfectly well.

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3. Step away from the cat
Never hold a cat who’s meeting a dog for the first time. Being held doesn’t make a cat feel safe – it makes him feel trapped. That’s a recipe for serious injury to the pet owner. Help kitty feel in control by providing space and a high place to jump to where he can safely observe.

4. Lead by example
If you’re introducing an adult dog to a cat, it can be more challenging. This is where your cues will come in to play. Another fan recommended having some quiet time with both pets in a small room, with the dog on-leash. “I sit on the floor with one on either side and just quietly pet and enjoy both of them. They watch me interact with the other and learn from it.” She does this for a few days, and when they start to sniff each other without trying to chase or swat, she knows they’re getting closer to happy cohabitation.

5. Let them duke it out – sort of
Most dog and cat owners will tell you that cats rule, and sometimes it’s okay to let them establish this hierarchy themselves. One fan added “Not a bad plan to carefully allow the cat to get a bit of a swat at a dog. I introduced a dog to my older, VERY crabby, bossy cat who had never lived with a dog in this way, and they managed to live together just fine for several years.”

I’m looking forward to trying some of the responses from Facebook, in the hopes of poor little Monica finally coming all the way downstairs to be part of the fun.

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