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How to introduce a puppy to a cat - 10 top tips

Are you thinking of introducing a puppy as a sibling to your existing feline friend? Traditionally, people believe that they won’t get along, hence the expression “fighting like cat and dog”, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Read on for some handy hints to make the introductions as smooth as possible…
How to introduce a puppy to a cat - 10 top tips

How can I prepare for the introduction?

Planning and preparation are key here! Your cat’s home life is about to change, so you need to make it as easy as possible for your cat to adjust.

1. Your cat needs safe areas to retreat to. Not only might your cat want to hide away, but they also need areas for their food, water, bedding, and their litter tray that they feel safe in, away from an excitable new puppy.

2. Plan your space. One great advantage cats have is their ability to climb and jump, so make use of this by providing cat towers or a shelf to sit on, where they know they are safe.

3. Keep your cat’s life as similar as possible to usual. If your cat has certain rooms that they like to spend time in, try and keep these accessible. Ensure the cat flap or other route in and out of home is also available for your cat.

4. Before you get your puppy, add new items, such as the puppy’s crate and toys, gradually into the home. This will give your cat time to adjust to changes without everything being new and different at once.

5. If your cat enjoys lots of attention and cuddles, make sure you maintain this and maybe increase it a bit – anything you can do to keep reinforcing positive interaction.

How do I help my cat to get along with my puppy?

Once you have brought your puppy home, take the introductions very slowly. Be careful to avoid any negative experiences, so patience now will pay dividends in the future.

6. To begin with, keep your cat and your puppy in separate spaces. A puppy may be too excitable around a cat or even scared of it.

7. A great first step is scent-swapping. You can have a piece of cloth that you use to stroke each pet with or leave in their bed for a couple of days, before placing it in the other pet’s area. With a cat, it’s a good idea not to put the material too near their food or bed, in case it stops them from wanting to go near these. Over a few days, your pets will become used to each other’s scents, as well as smelling them on you.

8. Next, you can try letting your pets investigate each other’s areas of the house, without the other pet present. Cats may take a little longer than dogs to be comfortable with this, as they are generally more cautious.

9. Once you feel they are ready, you can let them have some visual contact, perhaps using a baby gate or some other barrier between them. Pick a time to try this when both pets are in a calm mood, and make sure that both can retreat if they feel they need to. Don’t force the introduction if either pet seems stressed.

10. Finally, the day will come when you feel ready for your cat and your puppy to have actual contact. Keep this brief and supervised. If you have a family member or friend who can be present it’s useful to have an extra pair of eyes to spot quickly if the meeting needs to be brought calmly to an end.

Once your puppy and cat are used to each other, you will be able to reduce the amount of supervision you give gradually. If you need to leave them alone, make sure your cat still has a safe space. Crate training and separate rooms can be extremely helpful.

With lots of patience and some careful planning, your cat and your puppy will hopefully be happy housemates and may even become best of friends.

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