5 Tips to Safely Introduce Dogs and Cats for the First Time

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Any pet owner that has both a cat and a dog probably knows the expression, “they fight like cats and dogs”, very well.  If that’s the case in your household, you will want to read this article!  If you are thinking of owning one of each, there are a variety of things that you can do to maintain an appropriate level of sanity in your home.  A dogs and cats ability to get along is influenced by their individual experiences with the other species before they are paired up.  Their communication styles are also different, which can lead to confusion.  For example, cats lash their tail to indicate displeasure or even anger, while dogs wag their tail to show they are happy and eager to play.  You can help them to share a home by keeping each pet’s best interests and instincts in mind.

Introducing Them for the First Time

1. Bring them together as puppies and kittens

If you don’t already have either pet but know you want both, the best way to introduce them to each other is as babies, simply because they don’t already have any experiences to alter the way they will react to each other.  They will form a bond as they grow up together, but it is important to supervise play time, as a puppy will grow larger more quickly than the kitten.

2. Choose based on history and personality

When adopting the newest members of your family, it will be best to pair them based on their history (even if very short) and their personality.  A rescue organization or animal shelter will be able to assist you in choosing the best pair, as they will have the knowledge of their predispositions.

3. Gradual, supervised meeting

In order to keep both cat and dog from becoming overly anxious, jealous, or angry, it is best to slowly introduce one pet to the other, especially if either one is already an existing member of the family.  Always make sure the meeting is supervised, but be sure to let them get a feel for each other as well.  If you are showing signs of distress, both animals will pick up on that, making for a less than perfect first introduction.

4. Keep both on a leash

If you already have a dog and are introducing a cat to the household, or vice versa, it would be best to put a leash on both of them for the first meeting.  This will allow you to control any behavior that gets out of control, while not making one feel jealous because he’s the only one on a leash.

5. Introduce through scent

Animals don’t only get to know each other by seeing and spending time together.  A good way to introduce them to each other is to introduce their scents to each other.  Gently rub a towel, washcloth, T-shirt, or sock over your dog, then place it near the cat’s food dish or bed.  After a few days, rub the item with the dog’s scent over the cat, mingling their scents.  Then repeat the same procedure for your dog.

Introducing a cat and dog can be a trying time for not only them, but for the pet owner as well.  Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have them living happily together in no time!