Are you planning on bringing home a new puppy for your family?
Well, that’s a great decision. But do you already have a pet cat at home? It might not look like it, but this problem is more common than you think.
So you already have a cat. Interesting.
There is a misconception that has prevailed for ages; for me, it was back when I first saw Tom and Jerry. The shenanigans of Spike, the dog terrorizing Tom, the cat were hilarious. But that was hardly art imitating life.
I’m happy that you decided to get both of them inside your house. It is a misconception, and it’s high time that we let it go.
However, there is some planning and patience that needs to be exercised for your different pets to co-exist together. Especially if you want them to be your emotional support animal. This can only happen if you take the requisite to make the transition as smooth as possible.
We will be describing their co-existence in four parts.
- First Meeting
- Reinforcement Of Good Behavior
In the end, you will (hopefully) have two equally adorable animals who enjoy each other’s company.
Part I | Separation
You cannot just unleash the two on each other, especially if your cat has been around for a long time. Also cats and dogs are much different by nature and so they need to be acclimatized to each other. There are several ways by which you can initiate this.
Set Up Separate Rooms
For the first couple of days, keep both the animals in separate rooms where they will be able to adjust to their surroundings. Give both of them time separately.
Start by confining your puppy as they are the new addition to the household.
Stock their room to the brim with food, toys, and water. Also, spend plenty of time with your new puppy and get yourself acquainted with them.
Switch between your pets. Your puppy needs to understand the layout of the house, which is going to be his house now. This is also an opportunity for them to become acquainted with each other’s smell.
At this time, you can allow them to communicate through the door.
When your puppy smells the cat, he might paw at the door, but if it seems a bit much, ensure that you correct their behavior. Too much excitement on the part of your dog might lead to your cat getting stressed and an extremely messy introduction.
Exchange Their Things
Scents play an essential part in animals. It is what makes them categorize the animal or person in front of them as a threat or friend.
Don’t go crazy while doing this. You don’t have to swap their entire stuff altogether. Small bits of bedding will be enough to get the point across.
Ensure Confinement When Nobody Is Around
Never leave your pets unsupervised at least for the first couple of weeks . Especially in the absence of any successful introductions.If anything between the two goes sideways in your absence, it will be very tough to ensure their safety and well being.
Part II | First Meeting
Choose the right location
This should be a neutral location where both of them have some point, or other spent a lot of time. If it was two dogs, then you could have gone to a dog park or somewhere outside. But cats get severely stressed if you take them out of the house. So, the house is your best bet.
Keep The Puppy On A Leash
If you take into account their fundamental nature, chances are your puppy would be a lot more charged about this meeting than your resident cat. That’s how puppies function. They are full of energy and enthusiasm.
So, anytime after a walk or a play session is the best time for them to meet one another. Their energy levels subside after an activity session and this is exactly what you need.
Keeping your puppy on a leash also ensures that you can control them if they seem to show way too much attention and love to your cat.
An overeager puppy has the ability to injure your cat, and the cat needs to get used tohaving the puppy around. Initially, an interaction lasting a couple of minutes is more than enough for the first time.
Eventually, the cat will get more confident and curious, and the puppy will start losing interest in the cat.
In a couple of days, once your puppy is calmer around the cat, you can finally let them stay together. The time taken to reach this stage depends on the individual personality and temperament of your pets.
Part III | Reinforcement Of Good Behavior
Reward the Correct Behavior
Pet owners, for a very long time, have followed the concept of punishment when the dog does something wrong. Instead, try reinforcing the right behavior.
How this works is that you reward your dog when they ignore the cat or is calm around them.
Distract Your Puppy If It Seems Too fixated On The Cat
If by any chance you have ever been in the middle of a fight between two dogs. You would know that distracting your dog is a better idea than shouting or being physical. Distraction can work wonders in such a situation.
So if your puppy seems a little too interested in troubling the cat, ensure you distract him using toys or your happy voice.
Limit Unsupervised Interactions
Unsupervised interactions should only take place once they are wholly acquainted with one another. There is no time frame but it should happen anywhere between 30-60 days.
You do this to ensure that you can address any aggressive behavior that can crop up between the puppy and cat. If you notice any signs of aggression from either of them, separate them immediately. The only person losing at the end of that fight would be you.
Part IV | Safety
Visit the Vet
Because you have two different animals in the house, which are both capable of getting sick in very different ways, so ensure you take a trip to the vet frequently.
I once had a dog who was allergic to my cat, so a trip to the vet is the right choice.
Give The Cat Spaces to Hide
There are two kinds of cats – the climbers and the prowlers. Cats also require a lot of privacy and space to hide. If your cat is a climber, ensure you provide her with ample areas to climb. If she is a prowler, get nooks that are just hers and nobody else’s.
If a cat begins to feel she has no privacy, she might get aggressive, and that is not a good situation for you.
This process might seem very long, but in actuality, it would be less than a month, and then you can stay peacefully with both of them sharing the same space.