Monday, November 4, 2013

Introducing a New Cat to the Household

Today's post is brought to you by special guest Karen who blogs over at TatoChip. When introducing a new cat to a household that has dogs present, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, my dog, Shiner, never did get along with our cat, Kitty Kitty Meow Meow. This is part of the reason we don't have an indoor cat right now. I'm really happy that Karen is sharing her personal experience with this kind of situation and think it's something we could all possibly learn from. 

Introducing a new cat to the household
Photo via Jennifer C. 

The following is a guest post written by Miss Karen from TatoChip. 

It can be very tough indeed to introduce a Cat into a household where Dogs are already present. I had to deal with this issue a number of years ago when Tato the Cat decided he was going to live with us. I won't go into the details about how exactly we ended up with a little Kool Kat at our door, suffice to say that she was adamant that this was her new home, and no stinky Dog was going to dissuade her, even if it meant living up a tree for a while.

Although Chip the Dog is a happy and pretty chilled out kind of dude, he has always had a penchant for chasing furry things, be they rabbits, cats or the odd squirrel.

Not that this has ever been encouraged, and not that he would really know what to do if the "chasee" ever actually just stopped and stood there and said "Yeah? What?". Chip would probably melt down in confusion if that was the case.

But how was I to deal with this new arrival? When I knew that Chip was not the most impressed with sharing his spot in front of the fire with some little fur-ball.

Patience Grasshopper

The main thing I learned is that patience really is a virtue. We know that we cannot train a Dog in a day, and new introductions to the household will not instantly love each other. 

Introducing a new cat to your dog
Photo via Joanna Bourne

The secret really was to put on my calm head and to act like it was nothing special. Bringing a Cat into the house can really get the dogs hyped up and rather excited. So holding onto the cat (with a long sleeved claw retardant piece of clothing on) was the best way, and to act like nothing special was going on. Keep a hold of the cat if you possibly can, and stay calm and don't make too much of a fuss of it. Dogs can easily get jealous.

Keep Them Separated

Keeping them apart, with the Cat outside a lot, led to scents being recognized and for things to simply calm down a little. When both were inside then one or the other was always kept a hold of at all times, or they were in different rooms. At first you will find a lot of shaking and "I can't believe it" looks happening if the Dog is kept controlled. But this soon begins to wear off once the novelty is over with.

Over time then I let them sniff each other, the Dog doing a lot more than the Cat, and although Chip was still kept hold of firmly it did allow him to get used to the interloper without having the ability to find out how fast Cats can run indoors!

The novelty began to wane and pretty soon they could be loose together wherever we went. But this must be watched closely, and only once you know that they are actual friends.

Don't Let the Chase Begin

I found it was absolutely the worst thing to do to let them both be down on the floor in the same room straight away. Dogs want to chase and Cats will run, and it isn't going to make for a calm environment. If the excitement builds too much then a chase is hard to control, and can result in some serious injuries. Staying calm goes a long way to controlling this, and ensuring that they have both become familiar with each other.

When outside the house then I found that even when Chip was calm if he saw Tato dash about the place then he found it almost too much to bear. So only let them outside together if you stay calm and don't play favorites too much.

It is best to keep hold of the Dog for a while when you first try this, to ensure no chasing will happen, and for them to simply familiarize themselves with the new addition actually being allowed so close to the house.

One Day at a Time

You cannot expect a Dog and  Cat to always get on from day one. The chances are that they won't. But over time then things settle down, and it is simply about getting them comfortable with each other. Every day they will become a little more used to each other, and every day should see them a little more relaxed. 

I found it best to keep a close eye on them, and to never let the excitement build too much. Allowing the Dog to sniff the Cat regularly while you hold onto him is the safest approach. And over time he will certainly lose interest and accept the new presence in the house.

Certainly don't just leave them to it and hope they will sort things out. That could be very dangerous indeed. You don't want chasing to be seen as fun, and this should be avoided at all costs.

Now my two little pests adorable pets are best of friends, and are very relaxed with each other. It just took some time, some patience, and a lot of very thick claw proof clothes!

Tato the cat.

About the Author: Karen works at TatoChip with her two pets Tato and Chip. All three of them write about topics ranging from flea and heartworm meds to dealing with the issues of a life lived with other animals.

25 comments:

  1. I'm so glad this worked out for you.

    I once lived with some roommates, and one of them had a dog. Even after months of being together, the dog (who was usually very sweet) would chase around my cats. She would scare even my most laid back and calm cat, which alarmed me. I eventually just had to keep my cats in my room if I wasn't in the rest of the house to make sure they didn't get harmed in any way.

    I do think that, if done properly, with a younger dog, my cats would be okay. I know that cats and dogs CAN co-exist, and it's nice when they can. :)

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    1. Yea, I think the only way I would try with Shiner would be with a kitten. I mean, she gets along with a rat so I don't see why she couldn't get along with a kitten... adult cats are too smart for her probably.

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  2. Hmmm, I don't live with a cat (thankfully) but I have known cats all my life...they live at friends' houses and I visit all the time. I learned pretty quickly as a puppy that cats will play but they do not play the same as dogs...I got a couple scratches on my nose before I learned.

    However, I cannot imagine bringing a cat or dog into a home that has an established pet already in it. This post provides some great insight...and staying calm seems to be the key to it all!

    Oz

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    1. Well, Oz you would think my own dog would have learned after years of scratches on the nose but nope! I guess she just likes to act tough!

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  3. I think above all that patience is the key!

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  4. Alfie loves dogs which is a bonus, so he didn't mind when I came bowling in and took over his pad BOL xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. Oh so he was there first! BOL I think that Alfie thinks that he IS a dog by the way he plays with you!

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  5. grate post guys, thanx for sharin......we noe itz veree hard when cat meetz cat....tho cat meetz dawg !!! whoa !~~~~~ we haz been off line a few N we hope honey delite haz returned home by now.....XXX

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    1. Hey guys, I have been mostly offline over the weekend too. Still no Honey D. I'll share immediately if she returns, but so far it's not looking that way =/

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  6. Excellent advice. No one wants a cat to claw their dog apart. See Snoopy. HAH!

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    1. MOL... yea my dog wasn't smart enough for that. She always used to have scratches on her snout =/

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  7. How true. We had it the other way around--Sage came into a household with 2 cats that LOVED our two previous dogs, but Sage was canine non grata for quite a long time. It's taken a while, but peace reigns!

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  8. Mowzers, we can only imagine being chased by a doggie (*shudder*) - good advice!

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  9. Yes, indeed. Patience is the key! It's difficult to not want to hurry things along, but it is important to let things happen as the animals are ready. :)

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  10. Thanks for the opportunity to write for you Ann, and thanks to everyone for the great comments!

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    1. Thank you for sharing with us Karen!

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  11. My dog was 6 years old, when we had our first cat and they were friends immediatley, also with our second cat. We only told her to be careful with him and she was. I guess we were very lucky :)

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  12. Its easier with a kitten,as they have not fear and dogs tend to look at it with amusement and a Look that say what the heck are you for,xx Rachel

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    1. That's my thinking too Rachel. If I were to get a new cat, it would have to be a kitten.

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  13. Great tips, Karen! However, despite all the wonderful tips, I don't think my dog Pierson will ever be able to get used to a cat. He has a very very high prey drive.

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  14. Our cat Pippin wasn't too keen on the idea of having a puppy in the house when I arrived, but we became the best of pals.

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  15. Excellent tips. We try to keep dogs and cat separate, but cat doesn't get that concept and often comes to visit the dogs. Thunder and Storm are fine, but Freighter still wants to chase her. It is better but not all better...lol.

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Thank you for your comments!

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