How to introduce a dog to a cat

BEST FRIENDS: Dogs and cats can be introduced into the same household, albeit carefully.

PUPPIES and kittens that are raised together often will grow up as friends, not knowing that they’re not supposed to get along. Many times, however, you may want or need to add a dog to a household with cats, or vice-versa.

A general rule for the easiest integration is that the new animal should be younger and of the opposite sex, even between dogs and cats. It may be easier to bring in a puppy to a cat household, as the puppy won’t be as big or as threatening as a dog, and may not think of a cat as something to chase. On the other hand, an active, playful puppy may be more annoying or frightening to an adult cat than would be an adult dog that behaved calmly around cats.

Also know that certain breeds of dogs are less likely to be safe around cats. 

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This includes terriers and sight hounds (due to a stronger prey drive), and herding breeds (who may nip at the cat’s heels, trying to herd them). Many breed rescue groups will test whether these dogs are ‘cat safe,’ but think carefully and go slowly with the introductions. 

Generally safe are hounds (such as beagles and bassets, who will readily accept the cat as a member of the ‘pack’), and bird dogs or retrievers (bred to have a ‘soft mouth’ and not to hurt anything). The same tendencies apply to mixed breeds with these ancestries.

Of course, each animal is an individual and may behave differently.


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