If you’re a dog owner looking to add a new cat to your home, using a systematic approach to introduce the two species to each other will ensure that your household won’t have anyone fighting like cats and dogs. The American Kennel Club’s (AKC®) Meet the Breeds® offers dog and cat lovers the opportunity to learn about the predictable qualities and needs of each breed, including the following tips to help introduce a new cat to your dog.
Before adding a cat to your home, carefully consider your dog’s personality and breed. Sight hounds, like the Ibizan Hound, which was originally bred to hunt rabbits, are most susceptible to trouble with cats because their hunting instincts are triggered by their sense of sight. When small animals move quickly sight hounds react immediately. Make sure your dog does not have a lot of prey drive before you bring a cat into the picture.
Keep the cat and dog separated for the first few days. Help your new cat get acclimated to her new home by letting her live in a room with the door closed. Provide a litter box, water and food so the cat does not need to leave the room.
Your dog will know there’s a new scent in the house. Let the dog sniff near the door of the room with the cat so he gets used to the smell. You can also let your cat sniff one of your dog’s toys so she becomes familiar with him.
After a few days, let your dog in the room with the cat after he’s been exercised and is calmer. If the dog isn’t under good control, do some training in the presence of the cat (come, sit, down, stay). Giving your dog a food reward for appropriate behavior in the presence of the cat will provide an incentive for him to continuing acting appropriately.
Always make sure the cat has a way to get away from the dog (such as a chair she can jump on to get to a space the dog can’t reach). Until the cat and dog are comfortable with each other, supervise their interactions and continue to provide a way for the cat to escape.
To learn more about responsible pet ownership, visit AKC Meet the Breeds blog at http://meetthebreeds.wordpress.com/.
© The American Kennel Club, Inc.