Gradual introductions are the best way to help your pets to get along – especially if you already have a cat in the house.
To introduce your cat to an existing cat in your home:
- Setting up a sanctuary room – such as a spare bedroom – with everything a cat needs is a way to ensure your new cat has their own space and area to adapt to their new home.
- Next, scent swapping – collect scent from one cat using a cloth by wiping it around their cheeks or forehead and then give the other cat the cloth. Placing it in the middle of the floor gives them the option to investigate or ignore. This helps them to get used to each other’s smell.
- Once the cats are no longer reacting to each other’s scent, the next step is using a glass barrier such as patio doors. This allows them to see each other without being able to get to one another. Let the cats have the choice of approaching the glass rather than forcing them. If this goes well, use a mesh barrier or baby gate to allow them to see and smell each other.
- After plenty of mesh barrier introductions, it’s finally time for the face-to-face meeting. Again, it’s important to allow the cats the option of meeting and not force them to meet. Both cats need to know where they can exit the situation or where they can get up high. Keep these meetings short and make them a good experience with treats and toys. If things don’t go well, it’s important to ensure you can break any eye contact between the cats, allowing them to retreat from each other. It is important not to rush the stages, but following this guide gives your cats the very best chance of being able to live together. Good luck!
It can take anything from a day to many weeks for cats to tolerate each other so don’t give up.
To introduce your cat to your dog (or other pet):
- swap scents by stroking each pet with a separate, clean cloth
- repeat the process until your pets show no reaction to the smell
- if your pets avoid the smell, the scent swapping stage is going to take longer
- keep your dog on the lead and keep them calm – it may help to take your dog for a vigorous walk first
- train your dog to show relaxed, non-threatening behaviour around the cat, such as ‘down’ and ‘stay’ and ensure you are in control at all times.
- ensure your cat doesn’t feel cornered. Your cat should have a safe escape route or a high ledge where the dog can’t reach them. Close external doors and windows to avoid the cat bolting
- ignore the cat. Your dog will feel that the cat is more important if you focus on it. Do some training tasks with your dog to keep their attention, using treats and praise to reward their good behaviour
- never restrain your cat or force them to approach the dog. Let the cat leave the room whenever they wish
- don’t allow your dog to chase your cat. Praise and treat your dog if they remain calm and then return the cat back to their own room
- repeat short introductions until the dog shows little or no interest and the cat is not fearful of the dog. Progress to the dog being on a long line which can be picked up if necessary
- give your cat treats so they associate the dog with something positive
- Once your cat and dog are unconcerned by each other’s presence you can take your dog off the lead, but make sure your cat can still escape to a high ledge or furniture. Never leave the dog and cat unattended until you are absolutely sure that they are happy and secure in each other’s company.
- Remember that cat food and litter trays can be appealing for dogs, so make sure they are out of reach to allow your cat to eat and toilet in peace.