Are you adopting a dog? Congratulations! Of course, if you already have a cat, your feline friend probably won’t be as enthusiastic as we are. First impressions are a very big deal to pets, so it’s important to handle introductions properly. In this article, a local vet discusses getting Fido and Fluffy started out on the right paw.
Before bringing Fido in, put Fluffy in a quiet back room with kitty essentials like food, toys, and, of course, a litterbox. After your canine buddy has sniffed everything, and is ready for a walk, take him out and let your cat out. It’s now your kitty’s turn to get used to the new scent. Keep switching back and forth.
After a few days of swapping places, your pets should have accepted the idea that there’s another furball in town. Hopefully, they’ll be more curious than suspicious at this point. If so, you can let them officially meet. Don’t give them full access to each other just yet, though. Use a carrier or a puppy gate to let your fuzzy pals see and sniff each other. Offer both pets treats and praise if things go well. If all goes smoothly, proceed with caution. Monitor all interactions, and separate your pets if things get hostile. Don’t leave them alone unsupervised until you’re sure they’re getting along.
Make sure that your kitty has a place to go in every room. Fluffy should always have an escape if she feels scared or threatened, somewhere Fido can’t reach her. Vertical spaces, such as cat towers, work great for this. (Your furball will also get a scratching post and napping spot out of the deal.) Your cat will also appreciate having some hiding spots behind or beneath chairs, sofas, and beds.
In many cases, dogs and cats can learn to cohabitate, and do just fine. Fluffy and Fido may become bffs. Or, they might just ignore each other. However, there are times when cats and dogs will fight like, well, cats and dogs. This can be a very dangerous situation. If your pets don’t warm up to one another, you can consult your vet or a professional trainer.
This is one area where an ounce of prevention can be worth several pounds of cure. Choosing a cat-friendly dog is absolutely crucial. Otherwise, if things don’t go very well, one of your pets–most likely your cat–could be seriously injured. Consider the history, temperament, and breed of both pets, and ask your vet for specific advice.
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