Advice? : Introducing new dog to a cat

I have never owned a dog before, though my partner has. My 10-year-old stepdaughter has just moved in with us and has been fervently wishing for a dog for several years.

We’ve agreed and will begin looking at local shelter dogs in another month or so. However, we have an 11-year-old cat who has not been around other animals since kittenhood…he is somewhat skittish, though can certainly defend himself if needed.

Any tips on the introduction process?

The cat’s litterbox is in the laundry room, which is only accessible through a cat door when the main door is closed. This leaves him a bit of an escape route, but I’m thinking a baby gate or something might not be amiss to keep the dog away from the cat, particularly while we’re at work.

I use a baby gate. I actually bought a specific ‘pet’ gate that has a little door like this, but my dog is small enough to fit through the door. I made the door smaller using patio blocks so cats can go through but my puppy can’t. I totally agree with separating them when you are gone, and the gate is a good way to do it.

I have three cats and my oldest cat, who is always the slowest to accept a new animal in the house, has just recently started to feel comfortable around the puppy. It’s been 4 months. But mine were all used to dogs - just not used to puppies!

Are you getting an adult dog? You can probably find one that has been around cats and knows not to chase them and respects the claws.

If you have to get a dog, please get a small one . . . that will remain small. I once had an adult cat, and thought it’d be nice to have a dog too, so I got a black lab puppy. I kept them separate for a few weeks, then introduced them for brief periods, then for longer periods.

The cat never got over his total animosity toward the dog . . . especially once the dog became quite a lot larger. One day, as I was leaving, the cat got out and ran away. I never found out what happened to him.

Really big regret.

I know you mean well, but no. Do not do this. It’s remotely possible this could end with the cat and dog becoming pals…but I seriously doubt it. More than likely you’re going to end up with a stressed, sick, pissing-all-over-your-clothes cat. Get your step-daughter a pony, and save the dog for when the cat has gone on to its great reward a few years from now.

Bah. We’ve got cats and dogs, and we’ve fostered many more of each over the years. They’ve all gotten along just fine. The cats rub on the dogs, and the dogs lick the cats’ faces. The dogs we’ve had/fostered have ranged from 20-60 lbs and have all be pretty young.

It would be easiest if you get a dog that has some experience with cats, but we’ve never, in all the years, had problems. When we take in a new dog or cat, we put them in the house and let them sort it out. Never once had a fight between cats and dogs. Cats and cats, however, can take a while to get to like each other.

We are getting an adult dog, and are hoping to get one that is known to be ok with cats.

Frankly, I used to doubt my cat’s ability to adapt, but he has surprised me. For example, the first time we moved he kept us up meowing for about two weeks, and the second time we moved, it only took him a couple days to settle down.

I’ve got a dog and two cats. Both cats were a few years old before the pup came along. A couple of tips for you. Introduce the dog to the cat after you have exercised the dog well. Really let the dog get worn out so that once he is home he wants to sleep. This gives the cat and calm quiet dog to meet.

A dog with a high prey drive will make things difficult though not impossible. Don’t allow the dog to become excited around the cat. Given enough time, the cat will figure the dog out and develop ways to get around him.

Feed them at the same time. This is help to create a good feeling in both animals while they are together. Feed the cat up while the dog is fed down lower. This keeps the dog out of the cat food and avoid competition for food by the fastest eater.

Upon bring home the dog for the first time try to make sure that everyone smells like the cat. Scent is powerful with dogs and this may help to associate the cat with the pack.

Never forget that you are the leader and the dog must always be submissive to you and your family. Calm and submissive is the target.

Perhaps the most difficult part of bringing the dog home is keeping the excitement down.
Once the dog is a bit settled and relaxed, then you can reward the calm submissive behaviour with being excited. The best approach is to have your family members not look, talk or touch the dog until you are satisfied with the homecoming, show the dog around where the water and food is, the dogs bed and where to go to let you know it has to go out to take care of business.

Above all make sure the cat and the dog have plenty of ways to get around each other so they can choose to mingle on their own terms and in their own time. It will take time but if you remain calm around them both, and intervene if it gets rowdy they will at least abide each other and at best wind up best friends.

If you have heard of the Dog Whisperer, start watching the show and visit his website. Lots of great tips on getting the behaviour you want out of your dog.

4 cats, 5 dogs. I just introduced a puppy in the mix 6 weeks ago, and all but one cat has totally accepted the puppy. The fourth cat is okay with her, but is still a little ticked off because the puppy wants to play. I never forget that I’m the one who pays the mortgage and buys the pet food. Get over it.

StG