How to Introduce a Puppy to an Aggressive Cat [tips for cats and dogs to get along]
Steps for introducing a puppy to a home with an aggressive cat. Keep them apart unless they are supervised. Limit their time together. Having a slow introduction is key. Feed them alone in separate rooms. Make sure they both understand basic human commands. Gradually increase their time together keeping a close eye on them. Be patient.
If you’re anything like me, you might have trouble saying ‘no’ to a new animal in your home. Maybe you’ve already got a loveable, albeit aggressive cat at home and you’re considering adopting an adorable new puppy to add to the family.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know before you bring that puppy home!
A beloved pet often becomes a loved family member adding great joy to our lives. They can help reduce someone’s life stresses and anxiety as well as provide great companionship.
When their care and safety aren’t properly considered, a new pet can also create a stressful situation.
Can a Dog and a Cat Live in the Same Home?
Having both a dog and a cat is completely possible but will take some planning and foresight. How should you manage to get your two favorite creatures to coexist?
You can try to keep them in a separate room, but that is a stressful and uncomfortable way for both you and your animals to live.
As a pet owner, if you can manage to help them become best friends, not only will it reduce your responsibilities and stress, you may also get to see some of the cutest animal snuggles of all time!
In this article, we will go through some strategies to facilitate a successful introduction between your new pet dog to your aggressive cat without inflicting too much pain and trauma on all parties.
What is Your Current Pets Personality?
Just like humans, cats have all different kinds of personalities. The best way to start this journey is to consider your current pet’s personality.
Is your cat outgoing and bold? Are they playful and happy or tend to be mean around other animals? Are they shy and reclusive?
Think about your individual cat before adding another house pet to the picture.
Adult cats who have been solo pets for years may have more trouble adapting to a new puppy than a new cat or kitten.
However, if your cat is very playful and energetic, they might appreciate having a new companion if they are properly introduced.
Is Adding a New Pet the Right Choice?
As a child, I had a cat named Hoover. She was a family cat that we’d had for years. Years later, we adopted a new puppy named Chocolate.
Even though Chocolate was never aggressive towards Hoover, she hated his very presence, and never got used to him!
We had to keep them in separate rooms for their whole lives, with the cat upstairs and the dog downstairs.
Constantly opening and closing a baby gate was an annoyance and stressful creating a difficult way for our cat to live.
How to Choose the Right Dog Breed if You Have a Cat?
After considering your cat’s personality, you may want to think about what kind of dog would be a good fit for your specific scenario.
Certain dog breeds are more likely than others to treat cats as prey. Have you ever heard the saying, there are no bad dogs, only bad pet owners?
While probably not 100% accurate, the saying does have good meaning. If you put two animals together that shouldn’t be then it is not being smart or fair to the animals.
There are certain elements of breeding that will be very hard to combat, and you may end up fighting an uphill battle with the wrong breed of dog.
As much as you may be able to teach a dog to love you, teaching it to love your cat is a different story!
Best Dog Breeds for Cat Owners
According to the American Kennel Society, the best dog breeds for cat owners to have a smooth transition adding them to your home are:
- Basset Hounds
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
Basset Hounds are short-legged dogs with long droopy ears and domed heads. They tend to have good strength and endurance.
Training-wise they can be stubborn but also charming and very loyal.
There are few things cuter than a wrinkly Bulldog face! Bulldogs are midsize and muscular, with varied markings. Their short noses can cause respiratory problems, but they still need exercise.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Originally bred for English royalty, these dogs are regal, fast, loving, and playful.
This beautiful breed of “Lassie” fame was bred for herding but also makes a great family dog. They are very affectionate and can be found in dog show-rings around the world.
Keep an eye out though for the potential “herding” tendencies of a collie around your cat.
Retrievers are known as classic family dogs. Both were originally bred for sporting and will need a lot of exercise.
Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are cat-friendly but labs will need slightly more intellectual stimulation.
I have a friend who is a lab owner and recently brought home a kitten, the photos of them cuddling together are simply heartwarming!
If you’re looking for a cat-friendly “Tiny Dog”, this fluffy breed could be for you! They are generally highly intelligent, happy, friendly, and adventurous animals.
Pugs are great small-medium-sized dogs, and they tend to be very adaptable to different home circumstances. Watch out for that cat food though, because this breed can be mischievous!
Dog Breeds That Should Not Be Around Cats
There are a few breeds to be very wary of if you’re considering a new puppy and you already have a cat.
In general, an aggressive dog breed will not be a good choice to bring into a home that already has a cat in it. It will not be a good idea to adopt one of these breeds.
Also, consider that some dogs naturally have a high prey drive, and it will be very difficult to teach them that your cat is not food.
Dog Breeds That Are Not Good With Cats
- Most Hounds
- Most Terriers
- Pit Bulls
- Shih Tzu
Terriers are bred to hunt and kill, and may not understand that your beloved cat is not something to attack.
Hounds, in general, are bred to chase, and even if they don’t intend to hurt your cat, they may be inspired to lunch after them and can cause serious harm.
There are a large variety of dogs that were originally bred to herd, move, and protect sheep.
While these dogs are not likely to attack your cat, they may annoy them endlessly with their herding instincts and cause distrust or distress between the two animals.
Proper Introductions Are Everything
Once you have decided on your puppy, it’s time to bring your new best friends together. Think of this in human terms. The introduction process is critical and needs to be well planned out.
We all know the feeling of being forced to befriend someone we don’t like because circumstances have us spending a lot of time together. The same applies to pets.
Although pets can often go into these situations with apprehension, they sometimes emerge with real, true friendships. The first meeting is very important and the trick is not to force it.
Here are some excellent guidelines on how to introduce your new pet to an existing one.
Utilize Controlled Introductions
Before leaving your dog and cat alone in the same space, you should try letting them interact while keeping your dog on a leash at a safe distance.
That way, if you see any signs of aggression you will be able to pull your dog away from your cat.
Make sure that your cat has an escape route from the room in case they feel scared and want to get away from the new dog.
Once the two animals are interacting calmly and with no aggression, you can try leaving them in the same place without restraints.
Your actions in this scenario will be key to developing good behavior. Make sure you continue observing both of them for some time in case something triggers a negative response.
Setup Your House Properly
Separate your new puppy and your cat, using a baby gate or door in your home.
Over time, you can change the roaming areas of each animal so that they can get used to each other’s scents. First, let the cat wander all over the house, and then the dog.
That way they know all about one another before physically sharing space. It’s very important that you do not leave your new pets alone in the same area unsupervised.
If they get into a fight, it could ruin their long-term relationship, and worst-case scenario, your pets could be injured or die.
Watch For Signs of Distress
Your pets can’t talk to you so we have to observe their body language carefully to determine how they are feeling.
If your cat is not eating or using the litter box normally, it’s likely that they are stressed by the presence of the new puppy.
Keep your new pets separated until they are both behaving calmly, eating, and using the bathroom normally.
Potential Signs of Aggression Between a Cat and Dog
As you are introducing your new pets, you want to watch very carefully for any signs of aggression, especially from your new puppy.
These signs can lead to dangerous consequences for your animals! Here are some signs that your dog may be in danger of harming your cat.
- If your dog is fixated on your cat, and will not be distracted, even by a treat, this is a sign that they are in hunting mode.
You should be very careful to maintain control over your dog if they are acting this way.
- If your cat is still and not playing or moving around, and your dog lunges at them, especially towards the cat’s neck, this is a dangerous sign and you should make sure to keep your dog leashed.
- If your dog growls or snaps at the cat, especially if unprovoked by any of the cat’s actions, this is a danger zone!
- If your cat stops eating, drinking, or visiting family members, this is a sign that they are in distress, and may not be coping well with a dog in their environment.
If your dog exhibits any of these behaviors, it may be time to seek professional help.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Cat Used to a New Dog?
It’s important not to rush the cohabitation between your pets in their new home. If your cat is displaying any signs of stress, you should keep your dog confined and away from the cat.
Just like people, animals can experience trauma when pushed out of their comfort zones. There is no set amount of time, just a slow transition.
You may feel like it’s taking forever and then look back in awe at the progress you’ve made.
Training Tips to Help Your Dog Accept a Cat
When introducing your new puppy to your cat, there are some specific training cues that can be helpful.
Even if your dog is not showing aggressive behavior, you want to teach them to leave your cat alone when asked to.
- First, make sure that your dog knows basic commands like “Sit”, “Down”, and “Stay”.
This will allow you some control over your dog’s behavior, and provide a baseline to work with your cat.
- Next, allow your cat to explore your dog while keeping your dog still and attentive to you. Treats will be very important in this scenario!
If you can keep your dog fixated and obeying your commands while your cat sniffs and walks around them, you are likely in good shape to let the two animals interact.
- If your dog appears to be annoying your cat with too much unwanted attention, “Leave It” is a good command to help guide your dog’s behavior.
Dogs and Cats with Special Needs
If your cat has any special needs, health or behavior-wise, it may not be a good idea to introduce a new dog.
Stress can have a severe effect on physical health, and could severely impact your cat’s fragile ecosystem.
Pet Space-sharing Issues to be Aware Of
Dogs love to eat cat food! If you open up a can of delicious wet cat food, you can bet that your new puppy will be able to smell it from a mile away!
Be sure to take care when feeding your pets so that they each have their own space for food and water. You don’t want your dog overeating and depriving your car of nutrients.
Related Dog Cat Questions
Should I Consider Hiring a Professional Trainer for Obedience Training?
Some people may consider getting a professional trainer to come in and teach their current pets before bringing a new pet into their home.
Hiring a certified dog trainer is probably not needed if you have spent the proper amount of time teaching your current pet to be well-behaved.
Can Puppies Be Around Cats Before their Vaccinations?
You should always consult your pet’s veterinarian about matters of medical importance, but generally, it is alright for unvaccinated dogs to be around your cat, as long as your cat is fully updated on their vaccinations.
Keep in mind that cats and dogs can still pass fleas and ticks to one another regardless of Vaccine status.
And of course, there is always some risk of disease transmission whenever pets are around one another, so be sure to consult your veterinarian about your specific situation.
Does Age Matter When Considering Adding a Pet?
Yes, the current age of your existing pet or pets and the age of the new addition should be considered. An older dog or older cat potentially won’t get along as well with a new kitten or puppy.
You know the old saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This applies when considering how well they would get along with a new pet. Older pets are just set in their ways.
Can I Let My New Puppy Sleep in the Same Room as My Cat?
Letting your new puppy sleep with your older car is probably not a good idea. The best way to have a positive experience is to provide separate rooms for your two pets to eat and sleep in.
This allows them a greater sense of security in a new situation feeling they have a safe place to sleep.
If you just don’t have separate rooms for each pet you can utilize a pet gate to keep them apart. If you end up going this route adding some cardboard to the pet gate so they can’t see each other is a good idea.
Do Dogs and Cats Hate Each Other?
Dogs and Cats don’t really hate each other but a cat will always be in some type of danger around most dogs because of the prey-preditor relationship in animals.
Dogs naturally want to chase (and sometimes kill) smaller animals so their instincts tell them to go after a cat. Of course, not every dog will chase a cat and some get along with cats just fine.
Remember to take caution in all situations where dogs and cats live together. There have been times when a dog accidentally kills a cat because it treats the cat as a play toy and doesn’t realize what it is doing.
Orchestrating a friendship between two creatures you love is a joyful process. If done right, you will get to witness animals bonding and developing a friendship that will last for years.
You can rest assured that even when you’re gone from your home, your animals can keep one another company.
Bringing a young puppy into your home with an existing cat will always be easier than an adult dog.