Introducing cats and dogs is something many pet owners often worry about when welcoming a new pet to the family. Below are a sensible tips that should make welcoming a new pet as stress free for all concerned as possible.
Over the years we have been lucky enough to own not only two of the most fantastic Siamese cats (Hello, Trev & Simon!) but also a couple of just as lovable, if slightly less sophisticated, Border Terriers. And, despite the early histrionics, a peaceful coexistence emerged! I can’t pretend that it was always easy, nor that it can work for every dog and cat that ever meet (some histories just run too deep!) but here are some of the lessons which we learned that helped our cats and dogs live in harmony!
There are a few families that I know who have been able to introduce cats to their dogs and vice versa with the minimum of fuss. These are the lucky few! In these cases the dogs are too dippy to notice their feline foe and the cats, well, they are not even going to dignify the new member of the household with a second glance. Sadly this is not the experience we have had, nor do we expect it to be the norm. In our experience, getting cats and dogs to get along needs both preparation and dedication.
It is strongly advised that you do not just throw the new paring together. For the cat in particular this can be incredibly stressful. Even the most placid of dogs can be incensed by the sight of a cat, especially if it is being introduced into their home turf. The process of building a positive relationship can be made even more arduous if there has been a disastrous initial meeting! You’re going to have to take things slow, and you’re going to have to be there to provide comfort (and possibly restraint!)
Our Siamese have a favorite spot in the upstairs bathroom in which they feel safe and comfortable. It was from this spot that they became used to the noises and general disturbances which their new canine pals created. Creating a safe haven like this is highly recommended. At first we used a stair gate to ensure that the dogs didn’t venture up, but before long it wasn’t needed. Providing your cats with a safe part of the house in which they know they can relax is essential for cordial relations, after all, even the best of friends need space sometimes! Try and work out were you can provide this space in advance.
It seems to me that the green eyed monster can bite animals just as hard as it can humans and this is especially true amongst cats and dogs. Siamese, which are often compared to dogs because they are so affectionate, are likely to suffer from jealousy even more than most cats! When introducing new pets, you must reassure the others that they are still very much loved. If they are used to a snuggle during Countdown, then try to ensure that isn’t when you take the new furballs out for walkies. It’s the little things, you know!
Change can be upsetting for the best of us. You need to reassure your pets that they are all loved and that change doesn’t mean less attention. If there is one occasion for giving your pet extra treats then it’s surely when you invite their greatest enemy in to the home- so go ahead and spoil them!
One of the most important lessons we learned with getting our Siamese to accept our Terriers, was to familiarize them with their new housemates’ smells. There are many ways of doing this but we found that placing some worn, unwashed dog clothes under our cats feeding bowl worked a treat. If your dogs aren’t the dressing type then simply rub them with a towel and use this instead. The more familiar they become with the smell, the more accepting they will be that its now going to be a part of their life- no matter how much of an inconvenience that may seem!
There is no point denying it, some cats and dogs will just never get along. So pick your battles wisely! If you already have cats and you are trying to introduce a dog, try to acclimatize them with a friend’s dog that you know to be good around cats. Try to pick a breed of dog that isn’t overly excitable (although I can’t really talk, Borders were not the thinking man’s choice!) and if you are getting a rescue dog ask the staff at the centre, often they will know just how ‘cat sensitive’ each dog is!
Encouraging cats and dogs to get along is not an exact science, but hopefully these tips will be helpful for anyone who is thinking about giving it a go! It would be great to hear about any other tips or experiences in the comments below.
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Ross is a UK Siamese & Oriental Cat Breeder breeding and showing his cats and kittens under the prefix Burnthwaites . He is the author of various cat related websites and blogs including 'Siamese Cat Breeder'. When not showing his cats he can often be found stewarding or judging at cat shows. He works as a Web Developer and specialises in small business websites and content marketing. He is also a blogger, amateur photographer and videographer and last but certainly not least husband and father.