Introducing pets to each other can be a tricky balancing act for owners and this can be especially true when trying to help cats and dogs get used to each other.
While it is natural to want all of your furry companions to be friends, it is important not to rush this process. That said, there are a few steps that you can take to help promote harmony between pets.
We spoke to the experts at Pets4Homes, the UK’s largest pet rehoming website, for their top tips on how to introduce cats and dogs.
Animals communicate and gain information about their surroundings in a number of ways, and smell plays a huge role in helping cats and dogs figure out the world around them.
Introducing cats and dogs to each others’ scent before they meet for the first time is a good way to help familiarise them with the scent, and feel more comfortable when meeting nose to nose. When exchanging scents, give your pet an item that has been used by the other, and let it sit in their space before the first encounter to ensure the meeting goes well.
Timing absolutely matters when introducing different animals to one another. Choosing a time when both animals are at their calmest can be useful when aiming for cats and dogs to get along. Taking dogs for a walk before meeting their new feline friend is one way to ensure a calm pet, as a walk will use up excess energy and help them stay more relaxed.
Opting for a time when there are no visitors in the house is also best, to prevent either animal from feeling overwhelmed by the number of new faces around them. You can also introduce cats and dogs for a short amount of time initially and increase the amount of time they spend together as they get more comfortable with each other.
Keeping dogs on a lead
Dogs in particular have a tendency to get over-excited when meeting a new friend and, even, when they have good intentions, it may be intimidating for a cat. One way to ensure that both cats and dogs stay as comfortable as possible during their first interactions is to keep dogs on a lead. This allows cats to get used to a dog while maintaining their own space, as many cats can feel easily crowded.
While animals are still getting used to each other, keeping a close eye on their interactions is crucial. Nervous or overexcited cats or dogs may have a tendency to lash out or be overly rough when playing, so owners should make sure to intervene if things get out of hand.
Many cats and dogs live in perfect harmony in the same household, but safety should always be the priority, particularly early on. The key is to be patient with pets and appreciate that they may need a little bit of time to adjust to the new dynamic.