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How to Introduce a Cat or Kitten to Your Dog

05/01/2018 - Dog Training Advice

Introducing dogs and cats doesn’t have to be a catastrophe
We have some new team members at Best Behaviour Dog Training. Introducing two rescue kittens by the name of Mable and Maisie.
8 weeks old and fuzzy balls of energy, ready to explore the world including meeting their new K9 and Feline family.
It’s been a while since I’ve integrated cats into our menagerie so I thought I would share some top tips for anyone introducing cats or kittens to a home that already has other resident K9’s or felines.

1. Always ensure the new arrivals have a safe space to call their own. Our new arrivals have set up camp in my office where they have a small barrier on the door so they can see everything going on without having their space invaded.
2. Base camp should have lots of comfortable beds, toys, litter trays (1 per cat +1 spare), food & water.
3. Remember cats prefer their litter trays and food to be as far away from each other as possible, so make sure base camp can accommodate both at a good distance.  

Prior to introductions its important your new arrival is use to the sights, sounds and smells of their new home. Don’t try to rush things, take your time and don’t try to force a friendship between your pets. They will do this in their own time.
2. Cat to Cat introductions can be quite different to the cat to dog ones. Cats and dogs are very good at making you aware of how they feel, so introductions should not be forced. If either is uncomfortable make the introduction short and gradually increase the time they are together.
3. All introductions should be supervised and a fun experience for both pets. I always do first introductions through a gate or barrier. That way they get used to seeing each other without the pressure of being chased.
4. If you are introducing a cat to another cat or a dog, scent swapping can be a really nice way to help both species learn about each other. Dogs will naturally want to sniff the new feline, so it’s best to allow them the time and fun of sniffing from a scented blanket rather than the cat / kitten directly. It also means when the cat is nearby your dog will know it as a familiar scent.
5. Remember, there are lots of great training techniques you can use with your dog to make introductions easy for your cat or kitten. I personally like using settle on a mat (so the dogs are still in one place and rewarded for calm behaviour around the newbie), Hand touches to re-direct the dogs away from the investigating feline, and emergency stops in case you get a doggy cat chase on your hands.  
Animals are animals and should be supervised at all times during interactions. Never take it for granted that they are best friends, always heir on the side of caution and things will go well.
Lastly, don’t forget to give the existing K9 & Feline residents lots of attention. It’s as much a transition for them as it is for the newbies.

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