Your dog and cat can learn to live together peacefully but it will take time and a little patience on your part. First, realize that the dog may view the cat as prey because cats move quickly and may run away from the dog, stimulating the prey drive in the dog. This is an instinctual drive in your dog but he can be trained to understand that your kitty is not prey and is not to be chased. Many times a dog is just curious about the cat until the cat demonstrates the use of her claws, at which point curiosity usually shifts to respect. Typically, the cat will establish the boundaries of the relationship if you are bringing a dog into the home where a cat already lives.
Before you bring your dog home, have a few items available:
- Baby gates to block out an area where the dog cannot get to the cat or her litter box or food and water. Plan to keep the cat’s food and water permanently up above the dog’s reach.
- Leash and martingale collar
- Spray bottle.
- Kitty condo is helpful but not necessary as long as cat can get up high and away if she feels threatened.
When you bring your dog home, keep him on a leash and martingale. Allow the cat to see the dog. Expect the cat to puff up, growl, hiss and often disappear in a pout and hide under the bed for the better part of several days or even several weeks, coming out only to eat and use the litter box at night or when the dog is asleep and she feels safe. It is very important to give the animals a few days to get used to each other’s scents in the home. The interest will usually decrease after a few days.
If the cat ventures into the room with the dog, DON’T let the dog rush over and scare the cat in his attempt to be friendly. Keep the dog close to you for the first week or so and teach him the “leave it” command when he shows any interest in the cat or even looks at her. Make the correction immediately with a “EGH, EGH” noise.