Introducing a new puppy to cats

IF you have cats that are not used to dogs, you should think carefully before doing this.

If you must, then make sure it is a puppy as young as possible. Chasing breeds like greyhounds or hounds, or terrier breeds, are more likely to go for small furry running things like cats than gundog breeds like Labs or spaniels.

NEVER ever expect cats to live with a dog that hates cats or, worse still, has been trained to chase them. It is cruel. What is a joke to some humans is death or severe injury to the cat. In this case, either cat or dog must be rehomed. Cats that are chased will probably leave home eventually, if they are lucky enough to survive the attack.

The best way to proceed is to start with the cat, and only when the cat is established in the family, add the dog. Both should be young, before six months of age in cats and before one year in dogs (though a dog this age should only be introduced if it has a known record of not being hostile to cats). They need to be young so that they can learn each other’s body language.

The cat must be able to go towards and retreat from the dog without being chased or needing to run. Borrow a dog crate, where you can put the puppy with his bedding and bowls. When he comes out for walks, make sure he is on a lead. Let the cats first see him when he is safely in the crate. “Do not let the cats get scared in the first place. For them it is life or death. One snap of a big dog, and they’re dead. Speak to your vet and use a Feliway Diffuser plug-in in the main room to reduce stress to the cats.

If you can’t get a crate, keep the puppy on a lead every single moment. Tie him to furniture, when you are not holding the other end. While he is tied, or in the crate, make a fuss of the cats so that he realises they are valued family members. Take this process carefully over several days. The aim is NEVER to let a chase occur in the first place. If things are going out, let him out of the crate but with a houseline (made out of old rope) trailing from his collar, so that you can grab it if necessary.

You can also mix their scents, by pieces of an old towel in the dog’s bed and in the cats’ beds, then swapping them round. Remember, at this point the cat’s welfare must take priority.

Consult Introducing our cat to other cats and dogs on or send an s.a.e. and small donation for it to Feline Advisory Bureau, Taeselbury, High St, Tisbury, SP3 6LD.UK


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