The ideal age to let cats and dogs meet is when a dog is under 3 months of age and a cat is under 7 weeks of age though some firm friendships have been forged much later than this. The best time to meet is as one or both of them are being welcomed into the house for the first time.
A dog crate and cat crate are needed for this exercise along with some tasty pet treats and toys.
Having your puppy crated means the cat has a chance to investigate with the opportunity to leave. They will both need to sniff each other to get acquainted but begin by letting them smell something belonging to the other such as a toy or bedding, prior to a face to face meeting. Some folks begin by letting them feed on opposite sides of a door, so they can smell and hear each other whilst eating.
Hold the puppy to let the cat smell him/her but don’t hold a cat whilst the dog sniffs. Having toys and treats handy helps each to make positive associations
Time around one another should be increased gradually. Full supervision is needed at the beginning, but this may only be reduced as the pets demonstrate a tolerance for each other. Who knows, they may even start up a game together.
If you already have a cat, avoid giving the pup free run of the house at least for a while so the intruder is not so overwhelming.
Remember that some breeds of dogs are more like to hunt felines than others. Knowing a dog’s history goes a long way, regardless of breed. However, the success in this exercise is mostly about temperament and personality. Careful management will be needed. Whilst dog/cat friendships do exist, some will never be friends and cat claw to an eye ball can be devastating.
Feeding your pets where they cannot reach each other’s food means no-one’s dinner gets raided and less chance of contempt. Also, cats need a little privacy for the bathroom and don’t appreciate being pounced on mid-squat. Keep the kitty litter somewhere fido can’t go. It will also stop him dining on cat poop.
There are loads of great tips on the internet about how to set up a harmonious relationship for dogs and cats. Ultimately you are aiming for the cat to be at the top of the hierarchy. Speaking of the ‘top’, be sure to provide safe and stable high places a cat can escape to. A location to rest above a bookshelf could save the day but only if it’s not likely to topple onto the dog.
Leah & Angela OMeara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)