Health Topics

Introducing A Cat Into A Canine's Home

(This article was originally published in the July/August 2007 Issue of Pets Magazine and is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher.)

If the dog was socialized to cats when it was a puppy, it should be a relatively uncomplicated endeavor. To be on the safe side, keep your dog on a leash to prevent any unexpected reactions to the new family member. If after the initial introduction you see no signs of potential aggression, then the leash can be removed, as long as you are able to supervise the new housemates until you are confident that there won't be any problems.

On the other hand, if the dog has not been socialized to cats, or if you aren't sure (as in the case of an older adopted dog), then you need to be much more cautious. That's not to say that an older dog can't be desensitized to accept the presence of a cat. In some situations the best that can be accomplished is to teach these two critters to tolerate each other. There are specific behaviour modification techniques that credible animal trainers can demonstrate that may be helpful (ask your veterinarian for a referral). The bottom line is to always err on the side of caution by keeping the animals involved (especially the dog) under control until you are sure it is safe to leave them unsupervised.

With the proper amounts of time, patience, knowledge, and commitment on the part of pet owners, almost anything is possible when it comes to modifying animal behaviour.