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Introducing your new feline to the family dog

For quite some time I’ve been nagging my husband about adding a feline friend to our family. With Albus the dog, Hendrix the one and a half year old and another one on the way he assures me our family is quite full! When I beg to differ he retorts with ‘well surely the cat and dog won’t get on’. This is something I hear commonly with many clients asking me whether it is a good idea to add a cat to an already canine dominated family. Whilst certain situations differ, my answer is usually a resounding yes however I do have some handy hints to help improve the prospect you will end up with a modern day Milo and Otis.

Firstly, I always recommend families consider introducing a kitten as opposed to an adult cat.

The reason for this is that kittens tend to be far more out going and adventurous in a new environment, including interactions with dogs. Older cats can have a harder time transitioning into new settings and this paired with the introduction to a canine sibling can prove problematic. Older cats can also tend to be more aggressive towards dogs when they are scared. Not only are they unlikely to end up best friends, it can also cause undue stress for both animals and possibly even lead to some undesirable behaviours.

When introducing a new kitten to your dog-dominated house it is also very key to ensure both animals have their own designated areas.

This is particularly important for your dog who will need their own space to eat, sleep and escape to that is free of their new and probably annoying feline family member. Over time, as their friendship develops you may find that they are happy to eat together and even curl up with each other to sleep, initially however these things should be kept separate.

Just like when introducing a new human baby into your house, it is essential to safeguard your dog’s routine when you introduce a new kitten. Ensuring they are still going out on their walks and receiving their normal level of love and affection is central in making their position in the family feel secure. They are therefore less likely to resent their new furry feline and in next to no time hopefully become great mates.

Most importantly, remember to reward both pets when they are displaying the behaviours (toward each other) that you want to see. This can be as simple as a ‘good boy/girl’ or for added impact and potentially expedited results, use some K9 Natural or Feline Natural treats!

Whilst most dogs will tolerate and learn to love a cat companion, it is important to point out this is not the case for all dogs. If your pooch is aggressive towards, chases or has a history of attacking cats then perhaps you should reconsider introducing a kitten into your family. If however, you think your dog will be happy with a new furry friend then it is a good idea during the introduction period to ensure your kitten’s nails are kept short so that there are no accidental (or even more intended) injuries to your canine family member.

As you can see, introducing a new kitten to your dog is not dissimilar to introducing a new baby. Considering how well Albus did when Hendrix arrived, I have no doubt he would be fine with a new feline friend… now just to convince my husband!

 Written by Dr. Josie Gollan