How to introduce a new pet

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, November 7, 2018


K9 Corner

A reader asked, “How do I introduce my new puppy to my dominant-natured cat?”

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From the puppy’s standpoint, it is relatively easy, since the animal is bewildered by the change in environment as it moves from the breeder’s kennel or animal shelter to your house. From the cat’s point of view, it is entirely different and, because the cat is dominant-natured, you must take extreme precautions while introducing the two animals.

Let me give you some examples from my own experience.

Sam, my over-sized, dominant male cat, considered himself “Lord of the Block.” When I brought my puppy into the house, introductions took three weeks and even then I felt I was rushing it.

For the first week, I alternated Sam outside while the pup was led around the first floor. Then the cat was called inside and given a treat while the pup had a run in the fenced-in yard. Immediately the cat caught the scent of the stranger (the pup) and finally sniffed out that she was behind that closed door. The pup stayed in the dog crate when she was indoors unless she was exploring the house on leash.

The second week, I left the pup in the crate, opened the door to her room and allowed the cat in. It didn’t take too long before Sam’s curiosity made him trot over to investigate the “upstart.” True to his nature, he hissed and growled a warning which confused the protected pup and caused me to caution the cat to “be nice.” A few minutes later, I called the cat out of the room and closed the door. Each day that week, the two animals were allowed to see each other, with the pup behind protective bars.

Finally the third week arrived. I took a deep breath and turned the two loose in the kitchen where I could observe their interactions and intervene if necessary. After seven days of mutual aloofness, I felt that it was safe for both animals to play outside together, though they pretty much ignored each other.

My second cat, Paddy Paws, was about as non-assertive as cats come. True to his docile nature, the first day at the house, he strolled over to my dominant pack leader and rubbed up against her legs. Fortunately, the gentleness of the cat caused the dog to accept him on the spot, as did the other dogs.

So, to answer your question, it depends on the personality of the in-house resident. Usually the pup or kitten is willing to accept any authority and will innocently trust everyone and everything.

Because of this trust, the young animal needs to be protected from hostility.

Pups can be trained to leave other species alone too. A friend who lived on a farm had chickens and other birds before she acquired a male German shepherd pup. She taught the pup that the birds were “off-limits” by taking him on walks and restraining any playful actions towards the birds by means of a leash.