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Introducing puppies and cats for the first time can cause problems if not done correctly. Mainly because first impressions count and you’re likely to have a less than harmonious household!
This introduction can be a process that takes months to resolve itself. Depending on the time you’re able to spend socializing them, your puppy’s personality, and of course, your cat’s personality, may mean you need prepare for long-term.
Introducing Puppies and Cats: The First 7 to 14 Days
Take things slow. Allow your cat to smell something that has been with your puppy, such as a blanket or collar. Do the same with your puppy, getting them accustomed to their new kitty friend. Introducing puppies and cats might feel complicated, but it’s really simple when you think in animal terms.
Once your pets have both “smelled” each other, you can start the process of physically introducing them.
When you’re introducing puppies and cats, many people put their cat in a carrier at first. This is not necessary if your pup is on a leash. Placing your cat in a carrier may be safer for your pup, but it’s a stressful situation for your cat to begin an introduction. This will likely cause unneeded stress on the cat, creating a negative environment from day one.
If your cat is attacking your puppy, then it may be necessary to confine them.
Over this 7- to 14-day period, do not leave the two alone together. Make certain your cat has a safe space to go. This is also important for your puppy, especially if you have a dominant cat who challenges dogs.
Remember to praise your puppy and your cat when they share calm interactions together. Treats work great for both cats and dogs, but dogs may prefer high-value treats better. We have an article on “High Value Treats” if you would like to learn more about treat ideas for your puppy.
After the Initial Introduction Phase
Introducing cats and puppies does not stop after the first few weeks. To expect a good long-term relationship between your cat and your puppy, you need to continue training your puppy throughout their development from puppyhood to adulthood.
Your puppy is not truly an adult until 18 months to 2 years of age. Over this period, they will continue to mature and change. As your puppy changes, they may go through challenging phases, and drive your poor kitty crazy. You need to be diligent, not allowing your puppy to cause stress to your cat.
Continue rewarding calm behaviour, and if any exciting behaviour begins, remove your puppy from the room until they have calmed down again (or vice versa).
If aggressive behaviour is noticed at any time when you are introducing puppies and cats, please consult an obedience instructor or behaviourist. Your cat can blind or injure your puppy, and your puppy could easily harm your cat – play it safe!
Our article “Developing Bite Inhibition in Puppies” teaches you how to train your puppy to bite easy without causing injury. This is a great idea when training a puppy who will be spending time with feline friends!