America is undoubtedly a nation of pet lovers. Around 53% of households have a pet and among these, at least 54 million are cats and 77 million are dogs. Many people are decidedly a dog or cat person, but if you can’t decide between either, then the simplest solution is to just be both. If your home already has a dog, changing it into a dog and cat household doesn’t just mean bringing the new cat home and hoping the animals will get along. There are a number of factors to keep in mind to help you create a happy environment for everyone.

Preparing Your Dog For The New Feline

Bringing home a new cat is an exciting time. But for your resident dog, they may not take too kindly to a new pet moving into their territory, even if they’ve lived with other animals before. What you do early on can a make a big difference to how well your cat and dog get on in the long-term. It’s hard to predict what will happen and how our dog will react. When you bring your new cat home, make a point of giving your dog lots of praise and attention. If your new cat is a very young kitten, even the gentlest of dogs could easily hurt or even kill them. Don’t leave them alone together in the early days.

Create A Room For Your New Cat

Getting to know your new cat can be a fun and often challenging time, even without the added matter of your existing dog. To help the new cat feel at home, prepare an area for them, preferably their own room. Put in a cat bed, food, water and litter box and then leave the cat alone to have the chance to explore and get acquainted with the new smells of your home. It may help to feed your dog and your new cat on either side of the door to the cat’s room. This may help both pets associate something they enjoy such as eating with one another’s smells. Gradually move their food dishes closer to the door until the pets are able to eat calmly and happily on either side of the door. Then you can prop open the door enough so the animals can see each other. You can then gradually work on moving their dishes nearer each other so they will eventually learn to eat comfortably together.

Meeting Each Other For First Time

A good first way for your dog and cat to ‘meet’ each other is by putting each other’s blankets in their bed. This helps them to pick up the other’s scent and get familiar with it. You can also introduce the cat to the dog’s area when they aren’t there and vice versa and allow them to have a good sniff. Just make sure your dog doesn’t scratch in the litter box or eat your cat’s food. When it’s time for the animals to properly meet for the first time, keep your cat in their carrier and put the dog on their leash. They can then can comfortably see and sniff each other without any physical contact.

Get your dog to sit, but be prepared to take them out of the room if they start to get too excited. Repeat this meeting until both pets relax around each other. It’s good to reward both your cat and dog by giving them lots of praise and affection. Once your cat and dog are comfortable being around each other in the same room, you can let the cat out of the box to explore. Repeat this a few times a day until your dog relaxes. When your dog is able to remain calm when the cat is loose in the room, you can let them off their leash.

Introducing your new cat to your dog can take time, it’s just important that you don’t force it. Take the process slowly and make sure you remember to give both animals plenty of praise and affection.