For a couple of years, I've been scared to bring a new cat into my home because I wasn't sure how my dog would react. And I may not be the only person who's ever felt this way. Shiner, my dog, has lived with a cat before and they just never got along with each other. After a couple years of my cat's passing away, I had started to long for a feline companion again. I love cats, and growing up as a child my life was never complete without one.
In February, I adopted my sister-in-law's cat, Callie, from her. In my head, I was prepared for my dog's reaction to the cat and wanted to make sure that I introduced the two of them properly. I knew the road to introducing my dog and newly adopted cat might be bumpy and take some time, but I was dedicated to making it work.
What steps did I take to introduce my dog and cat?
For the first few days of Callie coming to live with us, she stayed behind my couch. I wanted to keep her and Shiner separated as much as possible at first, and let Shiner get used to Callie's scent. Callie was already used to living with two dogs previously, thankfully. Actually, my dog really had no idea there was a cat behind the couch for a few days. She's definitely no scent-hound!
I purchased a kennel that Callie could safely relax in while Shiner was in the same room with her. Alternatively, if the dog and cat are in the same room with each other Callie can go to her safe spot that she likes behind the couch.
I never leave the dog and cat in the same room with each other unattended. And if Callie makes an appearance while Shiner is in the same room, I monitor very closely. Our introduction process is slow and it's taking some time for us, but we are making progress. I have patience, which I believe is very important during the process.
About two weeks ago, Shiner was sitting on her spot on the couch asleep and Callie sauntered out. I was sitting on the couch across from Shiner, and Callie hopped up next to me. Shiner woke up a few minutes later and noticed the cat sitting there.
The dog did not do anything and just sat there watching for a few minutes, and then went back about her business. Callie seemed completely calm too and continued laying next to me on the couch. This was a big step for the two of them, and I couldn't have been more pleased. I made sure to capture the moment on camera.
They may not be sleeping together or cuddling in the same bed yet, but progress is progress and I am happy with each step they take towards becoming friends with each other one day. It may be a long road for us, but I won't give up!
Keeping your new cat healthy.
I wanted to share this story to encourage others who might think they can't adopt a shelter cat or kitten because they think their dog will not get along with a cat. I just want to tell you that dogs and cats can live in harmony with each other and even become best friends.
If you've never adopted a cat before just remember that while they may be similar to a dog, they are not exactly the same and need special care.
- Like dogs, cats need regular veterinary care to make sure they stay healthy.
- A cat might share a water bowl with your dog, but they do like fresh running water. Cats also absorb most of the water they need from their food.
- Cats need exercise too! I exercise with my cat by taking her for an occasional walk on a harness outside, playing with homemade toys, and giving her catnip.
- Dogs and cats BOTH benefit from proper introductions.
- Just like dogs, cats need proper nutrition to keep them healthy and strong.
Speaking of proper nutrition, the Hill's® Science Diet Food, Shelter & Love® program supplies more than 800 shelters nationwide to make sure cats in a shelter setting get the nutrition they need while waiting for their forever home. Through the Food, Shelter & Love program, Hill's has donated more than $240 million dollars worth of food to nearly 1,000 shelters across the country. The program has helped 8 million pets find a new home, and that number is growing. All pets deserve proper, balanced nutrition and a chance at finding a good home.
A healthy cat is a happy cat, and that will make introductions so much easier. Even after a cat is adopted from the shelter, good nutrition should be maintained.
Sometimes, the introduction process can be stressful and can cause occasional digestive disorder and even affect a pet's skin and coat. The Hill's Science Diet® Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin® pet food is available for both cats and dogs, and could help reduce stress during the introduction process. You can find Hill's Science Diet foods to purchase for both cats and dogs at Pet360.
If you're still unsure about adopting a cat from your local shelter, consider fostering first. This will give you a good idea of what to expect, and will really help out both the shelter and cat in need.
For more information about introducing a new kitten to your home, here's an article from PetMD with some good tips.
Have you ever adopted a cat? How did you introduce them to your dog? Tell us about your experience in the comments!