How to Introduce a Cat to a Dog’s Home

Sandy, a SFC (single female with cat) was delighted when Justin, a SMD (single male with dog) suggested that she move into his rented house in the summer of 2009 while attending university in Toronto.

Moving has been Identified as #1 Stress Factor for a Human – It’s Probably the Same for Pets

Sandy’s cat, “Boo,” had never lived with a dog. Justin’s dog, a Labrador retriever named “Carl,” had never lived with a cat. Integrating two different styles of furniture into one household was no problem. Integrating two four-legged roomies required careful logistics, time, and patience.

Many animals, no matter what type, cling fiercely to home and hearth. They become accustomed to the smells, sights and routines of their own household. Moving is said to be the number one stress factor for a human being. And it’s probably true for pets, too.

The biggest, most fearless cat or dog can be hopelessly confused and worried about a household move. If the human is moving, lock, stock, and pet, into a new home where that pet will remain┬áthe only pet, that’s one thing. But if the human is moving everything into someone else’s home – and that home includes someone else’s pet – the fur may fly.

Pets Can’t Connect by Telephone or E-Mail

Sandy and Justin had known each other as friends for a few months. They’d had coffee together, studied together, and shared many friends together. But Boo-the-cat and Carl-the-dog had never met.

This scenario entailed a two-part transition for Boo. One: she’d be moving out of the only home she’d ever known. Two: the new home included a dog. Carl was on slightly easier ground since he wasn’t moving. He did, however, need to re-think his single dog status and learn how to share his home with a cat.

Pre-planning can be make all the difference when introducing a pet to another pet’s home. Ideally, the two should be made aware of each other’s existence prior to a face-to-face encounter. Unfortunately, a telephone call or e-mail won’t work. A scent-exchange will work.

Who Owns that Scent?

A scent-exchange entails placing some of the cat’s items in the dog’s house and some of the dog’s items in the cat’s house. Anything that holds that animal’s scent will do the trick, such as beds, toys, and blankets. Rotate the items and change their positions around the house so each pet gets the chance to smell the other on different things and in various locations. The scent-exchange should occur at least one week prior to their first physical meeting.


Introduce the two on neutral ground. Choose the front yard of one of the houses or even a nearby park. The dog should be on leash and at least one-foot away from the cat’s carrier. Since height holds a lot of weight in the animal world, keep the cat carrier at the dog’s eye level. Allow them to see and smell the source of those mysterious scents they’ve been inhaling. Provide treats to each for good behaviour at this crucial introductory stage.

Free the Cat with Supervision

Arrange visits to each other’s homes but don’t let the two loose in the living room. Again, keep kitty in the carrier and dog on leash. When both animals appear to feel secure, allow the cat to leave the carrier but continue holding the dog on leash and in a sit position. If he lunges at the cat, say “No!” and return him to the sit position. Continue offering treats and pats to show that good things happen when he doesn’t chase kitty

Since the cat will be moving into the dog’s house, bring the cat to visit as often as possible to allow both pets to acclimatize.

When introductions happen in stages, move-in day should be less troublesome. The alternative – tossing two pets together along with couches and televisions – can be very disconcerting for everyone involved. With careful planning, even the most reluctant four-legged roomies can set aside their differences and live in harmony.

The Cat May Appear to Hold the Victim Card

Many people think a cat will assume the role of victim and, while cats may want us to think that way, they have a talent for working their way to top position in a household previously dominated by a dog. Whether it’s their ability to psyche out a dog, or the reality of their sharp claws and teeth, a cat who stares down a dog often has the upper paw in the relationship.

Dogs, while they may acknowledge the cat’s leadership qualities, may continue challenging the situation, especially in the beginning. Continue to supervise carefully to ensure no danger will befall either pet. A cat chased to the top of a tree isn’t a good scenario, but neither is a cat claw embedded in a dog’s nose.

Watch for cues that state each pet’s position. If the cat is truly the underdog, take extra time to train the dog not to chase or harass.

It is pointless to chase a dog who is already in full flight. Train the dog not to look at the cat and reward him when he ignores her.

Lavish Attention on Both Pets to Avoid Jealousy

To avoid jealousy, set aside extra time to bond and play with each pet, individually and together. Offer treats for good behavior, and provide chin scratches and belly rubs to smooth ruffled feathers and assure each that they’re equally valued and loved. To get more infos

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