Bringing a new dog or puppy into your home is a thrilling time for families. But it can also be dramatic and stressful for your existing members – primarily your family cat. Cats are not always the biggest fans of change and when a new pet enters the home, their stress levels can increase and in turn affect the well being of all members of the household. But do not worry, cats and dogs can and often do live together in harmony; they can even become what many cannot fathom, best friends. In order to foster this bond you must acclimate your cat properly and we’ve provided the how to below:
- Give your cat a space of its own. Cats need a place where they can feel secure from what is causing them stress. Having a separate room where the new canine cannot go works well. An alternative idea is to block off the upstairs or a basement so your cat can have free roam on a different level of the house. Do not isolate the cat completely, but allow the cat to observe the new pet from a comfortable distance and become familiar with its sent.
- Show your cat that the new dog is not a posing threat. Have your cat observe your interactions with the dog to show that he is not a threat. By having your cat watch your interactions with your new dog your cat will associate positive feelings with the new animal.
- Crating the new dog at night or when you’re not home also helps alleviate threat issues within the cat.
- Supervise the cat and dog during its first introductions. Supervising the cat and new dog while they get adjusted to each other will avoid harm to either pets. It’s always a good idea to keep your new dog on a leash during its first introductions in case your dog gets too excited or tries to chase the cat. Make sure to affirm positive behavior with praise and treats for both animals.
- Not changing your cats routine shows them that nothing concerning them has changed helping them feel more secure. Keep your cat’s feeding schedule the same and continue to play as you usually would even if that means you are separating yourself from your new dog.
- Do not be alarmed if your cat hisses – cats often hiss at new pets. Hissing is a natural defense mechanism and a way to show seniority. Your cat’s hissing or batting at your new dog may actually be a positive because it helps deter further negative behavior. Most cats will back off when a cat offers this type of warning, but be sure to intervene if either pets show signs of aggression.
- Don’t force the new relationship or bond. Cats will adjust to change in their own time and your cat will eventually realize the dog is here to stay and acclimate.