September 19, 2011
The photo was provided by Mario Tabraue, former representative of Euro Puppy USA,
director of Zoological Wildlife Foundation.
Many families own a cat prior to bringing a new puppy in the home. For a young puppy, leaving its mother, litter mates and adapting to a completely new environment can be stressful enough, while meeting a cat – even if it’s not as large as the one above – can easily cause trouble.
If the puppy is younger than 2-3 months (depending on the breed), you need to realize that it’s the dog that you should be concerned about as the cat can hurt a puppy with its sharp claws quite badly in an instant.
The main principle that should be followed when introducing a puppy to a cat in the home is that you should always be in control. This is best achieved by putting your puppy in a crate first and letting your cat get to know the newcomer from the outside. A few days or even weeks should pass before you let the puppy out of the crate when the cat is present. The right time to do this is when both seem perfectly comfortable in the presence of each other.
If you are bringing a slightly older dog to the home and feel that it is the cat that is more vulnerable, you should still stick to the crate routine. When the time for meeting outside the crate comes, make sure you have your dog on a leash and put a muzzle on him too. In that way, they can get close contact safely and you can easily tell if they are relaxed together or not. The next step is to let the dog off the leash and make sure you can call him to you even if the cat starts running. If that is the case, you can remove the muzzle and let them meet.
What’s amazing about cats and dogs living together is that they seem able to learn to read one another’s body cues and develop some sort of an interspecies communication as explained in this Science Daily article.
If your dog doesn’t do well in the muzzle phase and always gets out of control when the cat starts running, you may need to use a remote collar that you can read more about here.
Remember, dogs and cats can be good friends, provided that you pay attention to introducing them in a proper way.