A smooth transition may be challenging but if you are patient and careful each time you introduce a new pet into a multi-pet home, you can successfully raise several pets, including a mix of cats and dogs together, in harmony. The saying “fighting like cats and dogs” doesn’t apply in family homes where the two species learn to coexist happily.
Use These Tips When Introducing Pets
If you are bringing pets into your home for the first time and want to raise both cats and dogs, adopting them together when they are both young will make the adjustment period faster and easier. Young animals adapt more quickly than older ones do. However, if adopting pets at different times, the main thing to remember is to check the breed and previous experience of the dog and make sure he can accept the presence of a cat in his home.
Whether you are mixing species or not, when introducing a newcomer:
- Take your time introducing everyone.
- Supervise the introduction.
- Have another family member or friend help you.
These Are Useful Strategies:
- Keep Pets Separate – At the introduction, hold the animals or leash them, have them meet at eye level, and keep them some distance from each other. Gradually allow them to come closer but not within reach of each other. Don’t worry if there is some hissing or barking.
- Restrict the Time – Limit the initial meeting to five or ten minutes and then separate the new animal from the other(s). Over a few days, gradually lengthen the amount of time that everyone is together—eventually unleashed but not unsupervised until you are sure everyone is safe.
- Halt Hostilities – If the animals seem hostile, don’t yell at them or punish them by yanking on their leashes. You don’t want them to associate each other with anything unpleasant. If the antagonism becomes worse rather then better, stop the meeting, and try again another time.
- Have Dogs Meet in a Neutral Place – If you are introducing a new dog and have one already, you and a friend should take them on a walk together or meet in a park. Dogs are very territorial and your resident dog may consider any new dog an intruder that must be kept away. If they get to know each other beforehand, it is much easier to introduce the new dog into the household.
- Make Sure Cats Feel Safe – If you are introducing a cat, expect him to take a week or two to adjust to his new home and family. Make sure he has a room to go where he feels safe from the resident pets. Also, keep an eye on the dog(s) for a while and remember that it takes time for a dog to understand that a cat doesn’t consider being chased a form of play.
- Familiarity Through Scents – Animals get to know and remember each other by their scent more than anything else and you can use this trait to help them accept each other. Rub a cloth over the new animal and put it by the beds of the other pets, and do the same for the new pet.
- Cats are Dominant – In a multi-pet home with both cats and dogs, the dogs will generally become submissive to the cats, the dominant species, which makes everything more pleasant for everyone.
- Patience is Important – Be patient and reward positive behavior and manage the negative behavior while everyone is adjusting.
Reduce Rivalry in a Multi-Pet Home
Make sure you give your pets an equal amount of attention so that they don’t become jealous of each other. Include all your pets in playtime and training so they all feel they are important members of the family.
Keep feeding dishes separate and it is preferable to place a cat’s bowl high and out of reach of a dog, keeping in mind that pooch is quite happy to eat cat food. As well, make sure a cat’s litter box is in a private place and away from the dog(s) so that kitty feels perfectly safe when using it.
If you are cautious and patient when you introduce a new pet into a multi-pet home, give everyone all the time they need to accept each other, and make sure all your pets receive lots of love and attention, you can help them live happily—or at least in harmony—together.
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