Introducing a New Feline Family Member

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 01 Jul, 2012

Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience, July, 2012

Anytime you welcome in a new member to the family, it is a time of happiness, excitement and joy! Helping your dog welcome a new member without resentment or a poor show of behavior is an important factor in the success of solidifying healthy relationships for all.  

Firstly, not every dog should be around cats. Some dogs have an extremely high prey drive, were not well socialized with cats as pups and/or just don’t like them for no other reason than they just don’t like them.   Probably best to keep your home a cat free zone in those cases. Signs that a dog is not going to get along with a new cat are if they become obsessed with the cat when they see or smell it and bark or growl at it without ever letting up. If you have trouble breaking their gaze and they are overly excited by the sight of a cat, they may not make a good cat companion.

As far as cats or kittens go, the preparation and choice method should be similar to picking out another dog. You want to find a cat with a temperament that will fit well into the existing family pack. For example, if I have a rambunctious and energetic home with a young and bouncy dog, I probably don’t want to get a cat that is on the timid and shy side. You’d probably never see or hear from the cat again after you set it down the first time. You probably wouldn’t want to get a tiny kitten ora much older cat as they may get hurt. A younger and playful cat would be best.

If I have an older and quieter dog, I will probably get a cat that is a little older, has been around dogs before and has the maturity to listen and control itself when the dog indicates he’s had enough interaction. If I were to get a rambunctious and outgoing kitten for this home, the kitten may get snapped at by the dog due to its inability to read all the signals and the older dog may not be as tolerant as he once was in his younger years.

Kittens are best suited for dogs that have been well socialized with cats and have good self-control and a calmer temperament. These are just some generalized guidelines I go by and there are definitely exceptions to every rule! But you don’t want to spend years trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. Takes the fun out of the game!

Proper socialization will make for successful integration of canines and felines. Younger cats will accept dogs a lot easier than older ones and the same goes for dogs. Additionally, if you can socialize your pup before the age of 6 months with cats and teach them an acceptableway to interact with them then it’s a breeze when they are older.

The first day home: when you bring your new cat/kitten home the first day, you might take the first day to limit any face to face action and actually keep the animals separated. Don’t rush the introduction! It is extremely important to take your time here and do it at the animal’s pace. Let them be in separate rooms for 24 hours and give your dog a chance to get used to the sounds and smells of the new addition and vice versa. Then the following day, take your dog and run him out. Get him good and tired!   Bring him back home, drink some water and rest for a few minutes. If your dog has not been paying a whole lot of attention to the sounds and smells of the cat,go ahead and bring the cat out. This preparation will help to keep the intensity level down when the actual meeting takes place. And that will increase the chances of a good interaction overall!

Have your dog on a leash, a water bottle in hand if your dog tends to respond to a quick redirecting squirt and make sure the cat has a quick getaway if things don’t progress to his liking. Keep your energy and everyone else’s energy calm and don’t do a lot of talking. Let them move at their own pace and make sure there is a clear path to safety for the cat. Do not try to hold the cat. If the cat becomes frightened, you’ll end up with 20 claws dug into your skin. This way he can just scurry under the bed if necessary.

Unlike another dog, the cat and dog relationship usually takes quite a while to develop fully. Very rare for these guys to become best friends overnight, so don’t worry if the first time doesn’t go perfectly. As long as your dog was not acting aggressively and trying to snap, jump on or bite at the cat, there is still hope! Just be patient and pay close attention. Never leave dog and cat unattended until you are completely certain they have reached an understanding of mutual respect. When you have to leave the house prior to the relationship gelling, make sure the cat is closed up with his litter box somewhere.

Cats and dogs can get along and serve as a beacon of hope for all of us that even though many of us differ in pretty dramatic ways in our looks, beliefs and faiths, we too can learn to coexist happily!


Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484

Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By Pets in Need 08 Jan, 2018

Education is the first step  in pet poison prevention

Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The  Pet Poison Helpline  provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:

By Pets in Need 11 Dec, 2017

Outdoor Animals:

Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by  clicking here

A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.

By Pets in Need 27 Nov, 2017

Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.

Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the   National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.

In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The   ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack   that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.

By Pets in Need 14 Nov, 2017
First, let’s learn a bit of information about pet diabetes. Just like in humans, there are 2 types or diabetes in pets, which veterinarians typically refer to as insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent. One is caused when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, which is a hormone created by the pancreas that allows glucose (or sugars) to move from the blood stream into cells to create energy. With non-insulin dependent diabetes, the body is making enough insulin, but it can’t utilize the insulin efficiently. This can be caused by high body fat content, chronic cortisone administration, and/or certain hormones such as progesterone (produced during a pet’s heat period).
By Pets in Need 30 Oct, 2017

Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.

If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information.  Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.

More Posts
Share by: