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Bringing home your new cat: how to introduce cats and dogs.

Contrary to belief, cats and dogs can get along if introduced appropriately. A gradual introduction can make all the difference and it can be easier if the cat had positive experiences with dogs when it was young and vice versa.

After bringing your new cat home, you can begin to introduce them to your dog by exchanging their scents.

black kitten and white dog sniffing each other

A new cat should be introduced to your dog very gradually. Photo courtesy of Stefano Mortellaro via flickr / Creative Commons


Exchange scents

To start with, keep the cat and dog separated and allow a room for your cat that isn’t accessible to the dog. Use two soft cloths and gently stroke one on your cat and the other on the dog. Leave the cloth with the dog’s scent in the cat’s room; and the cloth with the cat’s scent in the dog’s environment. They can then each sniff and investigate it in their own time. See if the cat approaches the cloth and sniffs and ignores it, or skirts around the room to avoid it (the reaction will be very subtle). Also try dabbing each of the cloths on the furniture around the home.

Keep mixing the scents in this way over several days until your pets are showing no reaction to the smell and both animals have settled.

You can advance to allowing them to see each other, but not able to physically touch. If possible, place a glass or mesh door between the cat and dog and allow each one to approach or hide as they choose. Only once they show positive signs towards each other can you progress to a controlled face-to-face introduction.


Face-to-face introductions

tabby and white cat with brown labrador

Cats and dogs can get along if introduced appropriately. Photo courtesy of Marc Dalmulder via flickr / Creative Commons


Do not

Repeat short introductions like these until the cat is not scared of the dog; and your dog shows little or no interest in the cat. You can progress to keeping the dog on a long line and eventually, when they are unconcerned with each other’s presence, you can take your dog off the lead (but ensure your cat can escape onto high ledges or furniture if they want to).

Never leave your dog and cat together unsupervised.

You may also find this video helpful:

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