It is common knowledge that cats and dogs are allegedly sworn enemies, so if you already have a cat and you are entertaining thoughts of adopting a puppy, then you should be rightly concerned. Having a cat and a dog live together in complete harmony will be ‘a dream come true’ for you, but that does not negate the fact that things could get pretty hairy when the puppy comes home.
But one thing is sure: it is possible for cats and dogs to cohabit peacefully, though it requires lots of planning, patience, and careful guidance. If you follow this guide, you will increase the chance of getting your cat to bond with your dog and becoming best of friends for life.
You should understand that there are dog breeds that accept cats as well as cat breeds that accept dogs. The reverse, of course, is the same as well. As a pet owner, understanding that some dog breeds are naturally hostile to cats and vice versa will go a long way in helping you determine the best step to take. For instance, cat-friendly dog breeds include collies, Labradors, and poodles. The most dog-friendly cat breed is perhaps the Manx cat. Other cats have some problems adjusting to the presence of another canine companion of different species.
Additionally, most cats can learn to accept a puppy or dog in the household as long as the dog respects its space and makes no attempt to violate it at any time. Cats are the primary determinants when it comes to how close they wants the dog to be.
The first thing you should do before you bring the new puppy is to consider the past experiences your cat has had with dogs. If your friends who own dogs visit you with their canine companions, does your cat react aggressively towards it or not? Does she stick around until the dog is gone or bolts off someplace? Is she pushy, excited. or curious? These are scenarios that will give you an indication of how your cat will behave when the new puppy comes home.
Secure your cat in a safe place—preferably in her carrier, and then bring the puppy home. Let the dog roam around the house for about thirty to forty minutes. This would enable the dog to meet your cat by smell virtually. Some dog experts even advise that you can do this with your cat as well. All you need to do is to stroke your puppy with a piece of cloth while it is still at the breeder’s and then using the fabric to wipe the furniture and other items in the house and vice versa. This is to make the pets to have a ‘taste’ of each other’s strange smells, and this is of immense importance in the introduction process.
You can also put a leash on the new puppy for the first few days if it calls for it when you bring it to your home. By this time, your cat has gotten used to the ‘strange’ smell of the puppy, but it could still be wary of the puppy when they eventually meet face to face. Chances are your puppy will spring towards your cat, probably in a playful mode. This is where the leash comes to play; your cat may misinterpret the playful leap of the new puppy and become aggressive. The leash is to keep the puppy in check so that the whole introduction doesn’t get off on the wrong foot.
You should expect your cat to hiss and dash away; this is an entirely reasonable reaction. Allow them to check each other out, but be very watchful. You can give both your cat and dog treats as rewards for good behavior.
These short visits should be repeated several times a day, always watching over the duo as your cat and leashed dog size each other up and getting used to each other. Once you notice that your cat and dog are getting along, take off the leash and then supervise your pets carefully. Depending on what happens in this phase, you may have to revert to the previous step for a few more days if things appear to be getting out of hand. Never leave your pets alone until you are one hundred percent sure they are comfortable with each other.