Introducing cats and dogs

Introducing cats and dogs

If you’ve got a cat and are about to get a puppy or dog, you’ll want to make sure they get along well. Here’s our guide to introducing cats and dogs.

Do dogs and cats get along? 

Contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs can along.  They don’t all fight ‘like cat and dog’ as the saying goes. In fact, dogs and cats can be best friends, rather than arch enemies and may even play together.

Can you train a dog to be good with cats? 

The simple answer is yes. The key to success is to make a plan and take your time with introductions. Cats can be ‘fun’ to chase for dogs, so preventing this from occurring needs to be a top priority. You also need to consider the welfare of your cat and provide them with some safe places that they can retreat to when they need some time away from the puppy.

If you are getting a puppy, bear in mind that some breeds of dogs, e.g. terriers and greyhounds, have strong chasing instincts. Do your research to find the right dog for all the family – including the cat! It may also be helpful to get a puppy that has already been exposed to dogs. This means they will be less interested in the cat when they first meet. 

How to introduce a dog to cat

  • Try Scent swapping

It’s a good idea to do something called scent-swapping to prepare to bring your new puppy or dog home. Stroking your new dog with a cloth and leaving for your cat to investigate the smells can help with the introductions, and vice versa. This is so that your dog and cat will smell familiar to each other when they first meet.

  • Use pheromones

When introducing cats and dogs, you could also buy some plug-in pheromones for your dog and cat. These are Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs. Pheromones are produced naturally by the body and send out calming signals. Feliway and Adaptil mimic these signals and can help to reduce stress in cats and dogs.

  • Supervise

If you are introducing a new puppy to a cat, keep your cat in a separate area of the house at first. Initial introductions should be supervised and kept short to avoid them getting over-excited or stressed. Most cats are good climbers and can make good use of vertical surfaces. Clear shelves so that your cat can use them to navigate through the house safely.

  • Keep things calm

The best way to introduce a dog to a cat is when they are both calm. This should take place somewhere that your cat is able to escape from, so they don’t get stressed. To create some space between your dog and cat, consider using a stair gate. This will allow your cat to escape whilst preventing your dog from chasing after them. 

  • Use food to create positive associations

When your dog first meets your cat, use treats to reward them for good behaviour. If your dog is very excited by the cat, you may need to work at a further distance or be prepared to call or lure your dog away so that they don’t get frustrated. Whenever your dog calmly looks at the cat, without becoming exciting, reward with a treat.

Make sure your cat can get to their food bowl and litter tray without being pestered by the new puppy or dog. 

How to introduce a new cat to your dog

If you’re looking for advice about introducing a new cat to a resident dog, follow the same approach for introducing a puppy to a resident cat. Give your new cat time to settle in before they meet your dog. Keep introductions short and supervised and be prepared to step in quickly if there’s a problem. Use praise and treats to reward your dog for good, calm behaviour. 

How to get your cat and dog to get along

The key thing is to be patient when introducing cats and dogs. Your dog and cat won’t become best buddies overnight. There may even be the odd hiss or swipe from your cat before they are comfortable with each other. Remain vigilant until you are confident that your dog won’t chase the cat and step in quickly if they do. 

How to stop my puppy from chasing cat

It is much easier to train a puppy not to chase cats than to stop it once it has started. If your puppy has started chasing the cat, simply rewind a few steps with their training to break the habit. Remember, you need to distract your puppy’s attention away from the cat. Use praise and treats to reinforce this good behaviour.

If you are struggling to stop your puppy from chasing the cat, contact a a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist for help. 

My cat keeps hissing at my new puppy

There will probably be a few hisses and swipes from your cat when you first introduce your new puppy. However, this should settle down if introductions are done gradually and under supervision. If your cat keeps hissing it may be that they are feeling trapped. They may hiss to warn the puppy to stay away. Avoid this by making sure that your cat always has an escape route. Most cats are good climbers so make use of vertical spaces, such as shelves, for your cat to get to as a place of safety. Your cat will also need to be able to eat and use the litter tray undisturbed. Otherwise your cat may start to go to the toilet elsewhere in the house. 

Read more guides