Written by Ella White
Bringing home a new furry friend can be one of the most exciting family experiences. But if you already have a pet, it’s not as easy as simply bringing home a new animal and expecting your existing ones to be happy about it. So whether you own a cat and are bringing home a new dog, or vice versa, there are some things you need to know.
In this article we’ll guide you through the steps of introducing your two four-legged friends, and what to expect from the process.
If you’ve watched enough cartoons, you’d be forgiven for believing that cats and dogs are mortal enemies. But in reality, it’s perfectly possible for our two favorite pets to get along. But their friendship won’t always be immediate. Which is why it’s important to introduce them slowly and patiently, especially if one of both of the animals hasn’t lived with other species before. It’s also especially important to be mindful of any age gaps. An older cat or dog may have less patience with a puppy or kitten with lots of energy and a propensity for constant playtime.
If you’ve got a younger cat or dog and you’re introducing an older pet, this can be equally challenging. Many pet adoption charities will investigate how the adopted pet is with other animals but you won’t know 100% until they’re home and meeting your other pet. If you are rehoming a rescue cat or dog, introducing them to another species of pet will be yet another challenge in what will already be a very stressful time so take it slowly.
And while it’s true that some dogs do love to chase cats (and other animals), it’s also just as true that some dogs can be scared and intimidated by cool and confident cats. So be equally mindful of the stress that this introduction could put on both animals.
Before you even bring home your new pet, you need to start preparing your house for their arrival. And that includes slowly introducing your pet to their presence.
Eventually, you will get an idea of how your animals get on together. They may warm to one another, or they may keep a cool distance. Make sure they are separated whenever you are unable to supervise them – particularly if they are apprehensive of one another.
It’s possible that your cat and dog simply won’t like one another. Whilst they are still getting used to one another, keep your dog on a leash or some kind of line that you can stand on or grab if they do go for your cat. And always make sure your cat has easy access to high places and their secure room.
If you have an energetic puppy or a dog that likes to chase – like a terrier breed – it’s extra important that you are able to quickly remove your dog from any situation where they might cause your cat distress. However, avoid holding your dog in your arms as their aggression could result in injury.
If your cat remains scared or agitated, or your dog remains excited and aggressive when the pets are in one another’s company, you could call on a professional trainer or behaviorist to help improve their relations.
You can introduce some natural elements to help facilitate a harmonious introduction. Your vet should always be your first port of call for advice and they’ll be able to give their professional opinion on your dog's likelihood to accept a feline companion. They can also recommend room scents (ones you can plug in or room diffusers) which emulate the natural pheromones produced by mother cats to calm their kittens. You can also try something like our brilliant Harmony dog supplement. With its scientifically proven blend of adaptogens and nootropics it targets anxiety in dogs in less than 90 mins.