Every time members of the FourFriends team attend a cat show every cat person tells us that cats are great conversationalists. That got us thinking about how to introduce a kitten into a dog family.
We have been told numerous times that introducing a kitten to your dog can be an immensely rewarding experience. But if its not managed correctly it can go wrong very quickly.
If you have ever seen Tom and Jerry, you would probably believe that dogs and cats are natural enemies. They can however, live together in harmony. That said, there are some breeds that will always want to chase. Some cats will always want to run. With a little effort and caution, the chances are your dog and kitten will become the best of friends.
Let us look at how to read your cat’s body language. The RSPCA have produced the below to help us understand what your cat is thinking.
It is unlikely your kitten will do much harm to your dog. An unhappy cat can otherwise turn a calm dog to an aggressive one.
Before introducing your new kitten to your dog, you want to give the kitten time to get acquainted to their new home in safety and privacy. Have a room or other secure, enclosed area prepared so that your kitten can get used to the new sights, smells and sounds in relative peace. Let the kitten roam around this area for two or three days before introducing any potential stressful situations.
Dogs asses’ new situations with their nose. So, your dog’s first introduction to the kitten should be through its sense of smell. With a sturdy, closed door between them, let the kitten and dog get familiar with one another through smell. Let them smell and hear each other for a few minutes at first, then gradually increase the time of exposure. Eventually, the kitten will just be another smell in the house.
Now it is time to let them both make eye contact from a safe distance. Keep a safe see through barrier between your kitten and dog. If your dog is likely to become excited, try restraining them on a lead until both kitten and dog are calm. The next stage is to gradually reduce the space between them both.
Introduce both your kitten and dog at a safe distance for a few minutes. Slowly reduce the space between them both. Leave the barrier in place. At this point, you could move your kitten to a secure cat carrier and let the dog give it an up close and personal inspection.
This is another point where it is important to know the signs of stress in both your pets. If body language indicates any signs of stress, fear, or aggression, end the session and give everyone space to calm down. Try again later, with increased distance.
As soon as they both can see and smell each other with minimal reaction, it is safe to let them come in to contact with each other and with no barriers. It would be advisable to keep your dog on a lead. Let your new kitten approach the dog in its own time paying attention to both of their body language.
If all has gone well it is probably safe to remove your dogs lead and let them mix at their own speed. But, to start with make sure they are supervised and take things slowly.
The more time and patience you have, the better your chance of success. All is not lost if all your efforts do not come to fruition. There are many trainers who can help.
We are always available to answer your dog and cat nutritional questions.