Cannington Veterinary Hospital - Cat and dog laying on grass together.

How to Introduce a Dog and Cat

Many people would like to own more than one pet, but the thought of introducing a cat and dog to each other can seem a little daunting.

Despite the stereotype that cats and dogs are arch enemies, they can live together in harmony. It just takes hard work, patience, and consistency. Here are five tips to consider.

1. Provide a dog-free space

If you’re introducing a cat to your dog, having a dog-free zone may help them settle in with less stress. While the room doesn’t need to be large, it should have a secure door and necessities such as food, water, and a litter box. Toys, hiding places and tunnels can also make your new furry friend feel safer.

2. Keep your cat and dog separate

Whether you’re welcoming a new cat or dog to your home, keep them separate for the first few days. This gives them both a chance to get used to the smells and sounds of each other, but without the sometimes-overwhelming face-to-face contact.

3. Feed them together – but apart

Consider feeding your cat and dog on opposite sides of a door. With each meal, move their bowls closer to the door until they can eat comfortably next to it.

4. Carry out a controlled meeting

Once your pets are happy eating near each other in separate rooms, conduct a face-to-face meeting in a common area of your home. Keep your dog on a leash and let your cat move around freely. Ask your dog to sit and reward them with treats for calm behaviour. If you notice signs of aggression, distract them until you can put them back into their confined areas. Repeat these controlled meetings daily but end them before any animosity or stress starts to show.

5. Carry out a free meeting

Keep your dog’s leash clipped onto them so that you pick it up at a moment’s notice. After several days of on-leash meet and greets, you may feel comfortable letting your dog move without a leash. Make sure your cat has access to a dog-free space during this meeting. If your dog attempts to run at your cat, go back to controlled meetings and work your way back up to free meetings.

Introducing a new pet to your existing family pet can take planning and effort, but it is achievable. Talk to us about any additional tips and tricks we might suggest.