Dog and cat introduction

Posted by Flippyaforeal
Feb 8, 2010
What is the best way to introduce 2 resident dogs years 2 and 3 and one 4year old cat?
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Feb 10, 2010
Hi there,

Until you actually introduce them, you won’t know whether the dogs will be keen cat-chasers, likely to harm them or not be bothered about them at all. Most dogs will happily chase a small fleeing object, but some dogs will also have a higher ‘prey drive’ than other dogs. This means that they not only have a strong compulsion to chase them, they will also kill or maim the cats when they catch them. This is often an innate breed thing, common in Weimaraners, terriers, herding breeds and Akitas, but as dogs are all individuals, you should be prepared for it regardless.

The introduction is the most important time, as this will set the tone for the rest of their relationship. You must remember to take it slowly, and not rush any of the steps. Always be prepared to back off immediately if you think either party isn’t quite ready for the next step.

To start off, put the dog in a ‘gentle leader’ and on a very short leash, which will stop him lunging at the cat. You must stay calm so that he will also remain calm, because dogs are very sensitive and will pick up on what you are feeling very easily. This is important to set the standard for future behavior, so that it will ensure a mellow existence between the animals.

You must watch him carefully during this time. You should back him off if he is showing any signs of a prey-driven dog. These include narrowed eyes, licking his lips and standing tense with ears pricked and tail erect or switching stiffly from side to side. Extreme care will have to be taken if he does exhibit this behavior, as it suggests that he has a very high prey drive and is likely to want to attack the cat.

The animals should not be left alone together until you are absolutely sure that they will get alone, because the dogs’ efforts will much more frenzied and persistent when you are gone. Make sure you always leave the cat an exit route, such as a cat door or open window, and never lock them in a small room alone.

Hopefully all will go well, but you will need to always be aware that problems may still develop later on. In saying that, many dogs and cats will form life-long friendships once they get used to the idea of living together, and become inseparable companions.

I hope this helps and all the best with the introductions!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Feb 10, 2010
Hi Flippyaforeal,

What KOPsRobyn said is very true. All dogs are different but you should be prepared for the worst case scenario.

What is your dogs' reaction when they see a cat or a squirrel on their walk? Do they get all excited and show their prey drive, or do they stay calm, or show no interest? If they don't show much interest to small animals it will be easier.

How about the cat? Is he/she dog savvy, or never got close to a dog? He/she will probably hiss at the scene.

We have 3 dogs (2 of them are border collie mixes and have very high prey drive) but we could sucessfully introduce our daughter's a one year old male cat about two years ago when she moved back in our house. Although our dogs have a strong prey drive, they are very obedient and sensetive. We introduced our grandson (a new born baby) to them almost 4 years ago and it was quite similar experience. The key is to show how precious the baby or the cat is to us (the leader). I brought the baby in our arms as I kept telling them to be nice. I had let them sniff the cap our grandson was wearing at the hospital ahead of time so that they would somehow get familiar with the baby smell. You can do the same thing for your dogs.

I would introduce the cat to your dogs separately, first to the one that is more confident and obedient between the two. It will be easier to control one dog at a time.

My dogs are still chase squirrels and stranger cats on the street but they never chase or scare my foster kittens. They are so gentle to them. They understand that the kittens I bring home to foster are also members of our family so they should take care of them.

It is a lot of fun to have both dogs and cats around. I thought I was a totally dog person until we added our daughter's cat Oliver to our family.

However, if your dogs have very high prey drive and you are not confident to control your dogs, I would not even risk the cat. It would be a very traumatic experience for the cat if your dogs actually try to chase him and bite him. Hope everything will go well.