7 Mistakes to Avoid When Introducing Cats and Dogs

Cats and canines have very distinct tendencies, traits and personalities. So is it inconceivable for these furry associates to co-exist in a home and even develop into associates?

Lovers of each pets can certainly get pleasure from the most effective of each below one roof. However, like all relationships, establishing and nurturing a constructive co-existence requires work and there are a number of parts to think about to preserve a canine and cat pleasant residence.

Speaking to Newsweek, Zazie Todd—the writer of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and the forthcoming e book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy, which is out in spring 2022—mentioned good youth experiences are key and cats will get alongside higher with canines if they’re launched as kittens. The early a part of a kitten’s life, from when they’re two to round seven weeks outdated, is a delicate interval for socialization.

“A wide range of positive experiences in this time helps them grow up to be friendly, confident, adult cats. So if they have positive experiences with dogs in their first home (with the breeder) and then in your home too while they are still kittens, that’s ideal,” Todd mentioned.

Speaking to Newsweek, Pam Johnson-Bennett, the writer of a number of books on cat conduct and coaching who’s the previous vice chairman of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, mentioned as well as to socialization and constructive publicity to different animals, the character and traits of the precise canine breed in addition to the age and exercise ranges of each pets play important roles within the introduction.

The success of the introduction will depend upon the canine guardian’s management over the canine when it comes to coaching and how secure the cat feels, she mentioned. “If you hope to have these two animals become life-long friends, take the time to do a safe, gradual and positive introduction.

“Take time to make complementary matches to guarantee security for all and improve the probabilities of success. Take all of the information you already know about your resident pet to help you in figuring out whether or not a companion could be useful,” Johnson-Bennett said.

Todd said slow and gradual introductions are important, starting with smell before moving onto sight of the dog before short, safe introductions are initiated in the same room.

A pet with a pair kittens in a grass subject.
Leoba through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Here we take a better have a look at a number of the errors to keep away from and what not to do when introducing cats and canines.

Don’t Let Dogs Have Access to Cat Areas

One of essentially the most essential elements for establishing an excellent cat-dog relationship is how snug and secure the cat feels, Todd advised Newsweek.

Owners may help a cat really feel secure by ensuring the cat has an area to go to that the canine cannot attain, such areas which can be excessive up, like cat timber or cabinets, and hiding locations which can be solely giant sufficient for the cat to entry, she added.

It could be useful to make these areas simpler for cats to attain, akin to pulling out chairs from the eating desk or pulling a settee barely off the wall so solely the cat can get by means of the hole. Pet gates can be utilized to maintain canines out of sure components of the home and some pet gates include a cat door, Todd mentioned.

A kitten running in a field.
A kitten working in a subject.
master_ace through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Don’t Keep a Cat within the Carrier for First Meeting

Cats hate carriers in general and placing them in a single actually will not assist their first introduction to canines, as they will don’t have any escape route.

Todd advised Newsweek: “Whatever you do, don’t put the cat in their carrier for these first meetings, because it means they can’t get away if they feel unsafe when the dog comes up to sniff the carrier.” However, it’s wise to put the canine behind a pet gate when you’re doing visible introductions.

This diploma of separation throughout visible introductions permits them to meet with out the chance of damage. Once they seem to be calm on this separated setting, homeowners can strive bringing them collectively in the identical room, the American Kennel Club (AKC) says.

A impartial location, somewhat than both the canine’s or cat’s secure house, needs to be chosen for his or her assembly. The cat needs to be allowed to wander free to allow them to escape in the event that they really feel the necessity, whereas the canine needs to be on a leash so you may management their actions and maintain them from chasing the cat (extra on chasing additional under).

Todd additionally mentioned analysis exhibits that it may well additionally assist if the cat is within the residence first, earlier than the canine arrives, for the introduction.

A kitten in a carrier.
A kitten in a service.
Serhii Shleihel through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Don’t Let the Dog Chase the Cat

Dogs play by chasing and when a cat runs off out of concern, the canine might take it as a playful response and proceed the chase. This breakdown of communication can increase concern ranges and defensive conduct within the cat, Johnson-Bennett defined.

“It’s up to the pet parent to help the dog learn the cat’s language,” Johnson-Bennett advised Newsweek.

For some canines, particularly these with a robust drive to chase small out of doors wildlife or ones which have chased out of doors cats, getting launched to a cat is more difficult and might pose an damage threat, Johnson-Bennett mentioned, including: “If an animal doesn’t feel safe, the introduction will not have a good outcome.”

To maintain chase instincts at bay and promote a relaxed demeanor, the AKC recommends letting your canine understand how you anticipate them to behave when the cat is current.

For instance, homeowners can inform their canine to sit or lie down within the presence of the cat to reinforce calm conduct and give them a deal with for this motion.

Giving your canine a deal with on this state of affairs not solely reinforces calm but in addition teaches it that the cat is a cue to look to you for a reward, the AKC explains.

Todd mentioned some canines, particularly ones with a bent to chase and kill small animals, may even see cats as meals, so they’re merely not secure round cats.

Some pooches produce other tendencies that cats do not like, akin to the best way herding canines can stare.

“Cats don’t like to be stared at. Having said that, some herding dogs get on really well with cats, so it depends on the individuals,” Todd famous.

A boy chasing a puppy.
A boy chasing a pet.
alexei_tm through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Don’t Put Their Food within the Same Space

It’s essential that the canine and cat are given their meals and water in separate areas, to ensure the cat would not have to compete with the canine for its assets, Todd mentioned.

The cat needs to be fed individually from the canine and ensure the cat will get some high quality time with you. Owners ought to think about preserving the canine out of the room if you’re spending time with the cat, particularly if you’re taking part in with them utilizing a wand, to keep away from triggering the canine’s urge to chase, Todd added.

“They also shouldn’t have to go past the dog to get access to their litter tray,” Todd advised Newsweek.

A kitten eating food from a plate.
A kitten consuming meals from a plate.
Nils Jacobi through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Don’t Have Prolonged Introductions

Meetings between the canine and cat needs to be brief and candy. These temporary interactions could be unfold all through the day for at the least per week, the AKC advises.

Offering treats to each pets throughout these conferences may help construct constructive associations with one another. “Consider reserving a particularly delicious treat for just these sessions so your pets will look forward to seeing each other,” the AKC says.

International Cat Care, the U.K. charity, says the initial introductions should gradually allow the cat and dog to have more time to “just be” together.

If each appear relaxed, then enable them to nudge a bit of nearer to one another, however nonetheless preserving the interactions brief and offering loads of calm, constructive experiences and human interactions when the pets are current.

A puppy biting a dog toy.
A pet biting a canine toy.
Piotr Wytrazek through iStock / Getty Images Plus

Avoid Crisis Management

If the interplay begins to seem tense, keep away from the urge to step in instantly to take one of many pets away, advises International Cat Care.

Actions akin to swooping in and grabbing both the cat or canine in a bid to diffuse the strain “will elevate arousal levels and could lead to a problematic experience which may be detrimental to future relations,” the charity explains.

Once you anticipate the pets might be ready to share an area comfortably, the limitations can come down for some time. But this could solely occur following a number of and gradual interactive classes between the cat and canine that point out it is extremely possible that they are going to be nice collectively in the identical house.

Luring the pets away from every with meals or toys will create house between them, if it is wanted at any level throughout their assembly.

A puppy and a kitten napping together.
A pet and a kitten napping collectively.
FamVeld through iStock / Getty Images Plus

…But Don’t Leave Them Unsupervised

Introductions ought to at all times be performed below direct supervision, which entails actively monitoring and stopping any issues by means of constructive distractions, akin to luring the pets with meals or toys.

International Cat Care says: “Supervise at all times and be constantly vigilant for any outward signs of emotional arousal such as fear or excitement, changes in body language or posture.”

When doubtful that issues might develop into intense, at all times err on the facet of warning and finish the assembly whereas each pets seem to be relaxed. “Don’t take a chance and allow it to go wrong,” warns the charity.

As the canine and cat seem to be extra calm and snug round one another, homeowners ought to proceed to reward and reward them for the constructive interactions in order that these behaviors develop into ingrained.

But “until you’re sure of the outcome, which could take a few weeks to a few months, don’t leave them together on their own,” the AKC says.

Even when your pets are at a stage the place they will co-exist with out supervision, homeowners nonetheless want to take precautionary measures for the protection of each pets, akin to preserving the cat’s nails trimmed or coated in nail caps to stop damage to your canine.

Cats must also have a everlasting dog-free house in the home utilizing child gates or a cat door, the AKC says.

A dog and cat under a sheet.
A canine and cat below a sheet.
Prystai through iStock / Getty Images Plus

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