Introducing a Cat to a Dog

The most important thing to consider in a dog-cat relationship is if the dog is friendly to cats. Being bigger animals, dogs can do much greater damage to a cat than the other way around. So, if you have even the tiniest sliver of doubt that your dog is cat-friendly, DO NOT RISK IT. We have seen far too many seriously injured cats who have had an unfortunate encounter with an aggressive dog. They are lucky to survive.

Follow these steps for a successful introduction:

1. Get to know both your cat and dog very well – know their body language and moods.

2. Be sure the dog is well trained to sit, stay, come, and respond to “NO!”

3. Have a friend on hand to help if things get iffy.

4. Before introducing, take your dog for a nice walk, get him some exercise, and feed him a meal.

5. Put the dog on a short leash or in his crate. The cat can be in a carrier if he is shy; otherwise let him walk around.

6. Let the two animals see each other at a distance. Pet and talk to the dog soothingly. If he barks, abort the introduction. Otherwise, give lots of treats and praise to both animals. If the dog lunges or shows any signs of aggression or excitability, stop the introduction.

7. Repeat the short visits several times a day, gradually giving the dog more leash as appropriate and letting the cat approach.

8. Repeat the above steps daily until you’ve had several consecutive days of incident-free visits.

9. Once you’re comfortable, take the dog off his leash and monitor very closely. If problems arise and the dog doesn’t respond to simple vocal commands, back up to the previous phase for a few days. Gradually make the no-leash sessions longer.

10. Do not leave them alone together until you’re POSITIVE they are both fully comfortable with each other.

11. During the unleashed visits, always be sure that the cat has an escape route or place to jump to safety.

12. Keep in mind that some animals are just not compatible. You can always contact Tenth Life for questions or guidance!