BENGALURU: Introducing a new dog to your cats – or a new cat to your dogs – doesn’t have to be hard. Here is some advice to help keep peace during the transition. Whether you already have a dog and are considering getting a cat, or vice versa, it is very important to think about their first introduction. Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t share the same space — they’re just going to need your help. By letting a loose cat and an off-leash dog meet each other in an open room for the first time, you are probably setting up both animals to fail. Instead, plan ahead and take your time.
Start young, because puppies and kittens have had no bad experiences with each other, they will get along more quickly than older pets. Always supervise their interactions, even if they are friendly, a puppy’s play may still be a bit rough for a kitten. Also knowing the personality of the cat or dog can be very useful as it can help prevent incompatible match.
Once you have got them home, don’t force them to be together. Keep the pets separate at first, waiting for a few days before actually introducing the animals face to face. Keep them in separate rooms and out of sight of one another until they are both calm. Animals get to know one another through scent, not face-to-face meetings. Begin mixing the animals’ smells by stroking the cat, then stroking the dog and vice versa. Gently rub a towel over the dog, and place it near the cat. After a few days, rub the item with the dog’s scent over the cat, mingling their scents.
Reverse the procedure for your dog. Try feeding the cat and dog on separate sides of the same door, this will force them to adjust to the smell of the other animal. The first meeting between the two should be properly supervised and brief. You can have the animals meet from opposite sides of a pet gate at first, but don’t allow them to touch noses or otherwise get too close until each is more accustomed to the sight of the other. You could also place the cat or small dog in a carrier, and let the other pet sniff and circle the confined animal.
Keep your dog’s leash on and walk him/her into the same room as the cat for a brief time or hold your cat in your arms until it is calm and relaxed then ask someone to slowly bring your dog on a leash into the room. Do not let the animals make physical contact with each other, just get them used to the presence of the other. If the dog stares at the cat, try to distract him and get him to look away with treats, a happy voice or by gently guiding the dog away on a leash. Once the dog is away, try offering a treat. If he takes it, repeat this process until he is no longer focused on the cat or door. Make sure the first meeting is a good one by keeping it brief and pleasant. Increase the lengths of these sessions slowly.
Continue to have your dog and cat interact until they are relaxed in each other’s presence. Have realistic expectations and be patient. They may eventually accept one another, with minimal interaction but no animosity, or they may develop a genuine fondness for each other. But it is definitely possible to have a cat and dog together sharing same home.The author is a former corporate executive actively involved in rescues, rehabilitation and re-homing of dogs.
Keep a close watch
Start young, because puppies and kittens have had no bad experiences with each other, so they will get along more quickly than older pets. Always supervise their interactions,as a puppy’s play may be a bit rough for a kitten.