Fighting like cats and dogs! Yes we’ve all heard the saying, watched the cartoons with all the fur flying and maybe even witnessed it in real life….eeesh!
There’s no denying cats and dogs have history, but is it possible to introduce a puppy to a cat and have the puppy and cat get on harmoniously? And how would you even start introducing a cat to a puppy?
Here at Zigzag, we are always up for a challenge, we’re here to help you learn how to introduce a puppy to a cat. We’ll explain why it’s important to introduce puppies and cats, the best ways to introduce puppies and cats, and some top tips on how to maintain a good relationship between your new puppy and your cat. If you haven’t decided what breed or cross breed of puppy to get we’ve also compiled a list of the most cat friendly dog breeds further below.
Are you looking for an in depth puppy training programme, that’s developed specifically for your breed or crossbreed of puppy? Look no further than the Zigzag puppy training app, we’ll support you on your puppy training journey, and have our very own team of expert Zigzag puppy coaches, ready to back you up along the way on WhatsApp, Email or over the phone. All at the click of a button in your app. Download a free trial today!
Why it’s important to introduce puppies and cats
So, is it worth introducing your puppy to a cat? What exactly is the point of it? Well, it’s actually important to get your puppy used to a cat for quite a few reasons.
- Introducing a cat to your puppy is good for your puppy’s socialisation. It means your puppy won’t be quite so shocked or worried when they see them and they’re older.
- Your puppy and cat live under the same roof and need to get on!
- If you introduce your puppy to your cat and keep it positive and constructive, your cat will be happier to have the puppy around.
- No need to throw them both in at the deep end. Cat and puppy introductions usually take some time to go smoothly.
6 step guide on how to introduce a puppy to a cat
To make sure that your puppy and cat introduction goes smoothly it’s a good idea to do some preparation on what you need before bringing your puppy home, if you can.
Just follow our step by step guide on how to introduce a puppy to a cat, to make sure your home life is harmonious.
1. Before your puppy comes home – scent swap
Scent swapping might be something the breeder has asked you to do by giving them a t-shirt or jumper that they can give to the puppy that smells of you.
Well, the same thing can be done for your cat and the puppy’s smell. If possible, give the breeder a blanket that they can rub all over the puppy, so that it takes on your puppy’s scent. Then take the blanket home and just allow your cat to sniff it. By doing this, your cat can smell the puppy way in advance of them getting home.
Introducing a cat to puppy scents works surprisingly well and gives the cat some fair warning of what’s coming.
2. Set up puppy free areas for time out of puppy and cat introductions
Your cat will need some time and space away from the puppy. An easy way to do this is by investing in a couple of baby gates, to give your cat some puppy free rooms. It means that the cat can always go away to a place of safety. You can also put up some cat trees or shelves, or let them climb up on furniture so that they can also stay in the same room as the puppy, but be able to have some space if needs be.
3. Keep doing scent swaps so your puppy and cat get used to one another
For the first few days that you bring your new puppy home, we suggest that your puppy and cat don’t meet nose to nose. This is because your cat needs to get used to the idea of having a new lodger in the house, and your puppy needs to get used to their new environment, and the cat!
Give them both time to explore and sniff when the other isn’t around. So pop your puppy in a room away from the main living space if you can while your cat goes round and checks out where the puppy has been. (A puppy playpen is also useful at this time if your puppy isn’t great at being away from you, don’t worry this is common) This also gives you time to get to know your puppy a little better, and to do some training so that they’ll listen to you when the cat is around.
4. Keep your cat and puppy introductions positive
Those first few interactions introducing your cat to puppy, will have a long-term impact on how they see one another. Give your cat lots of treats to keep them in the same room with your puppy, but don’t force interaction. Allow the cat to leave if they so wish. If cats choose to be on a higher surface because it seems to be safer, but they are still in the same room, reward your cat for remaining there. Always provide your cat with plenty of high up hiding places.
5. Never let your puppy chase the cat
Allowing your puppy to chase the cat during the introduction process will not go well. Your cat must feel comfortable in the puppy’s presence, and while the puppy may be curious about your cat, chasing them will not end well. Your cat may be afraid and flee, or they may lash out and harm your puppy instead. Reward your puppy for simply ignoring your cat and allowing them to be.
6. Keep meetings between your cat and puppy short and sweet
Don’t rush when introducing your puppy to your cat! They must be lifelong friends (or at the very least not enemies!) It takes time to develop a friendship and gain trust in one another. When one of them is nearby, play games with them and offer them treats, praise, and affection so you can form positive associations with the ‘monster’ being there!
Top tips to maintain a good relationship between your new puppy and cat
- Keep your puppy on a lead or house line at first, especially if you think they’re going to show an interest in chasing your cat, and is a good place to begin some lead training.
- Remember to give your cat lots of attention. It’s hard to have to share your space all of a sudden.
- Don’t tell anyone off. It will damage the relationship you have with them. Remember, it’s always better to reward behaviour you want to see and manage your pets to help them make the right choices, which can then be rewarded.
- Be patient – it will take a while for your puppy and cat to get on.
- Cats can and do move out when puppies move in, so make sure you follow our steps on introducing a cat to a puppy, to make it as stress free as possible for them.
- If you have any questions at all, or you’re worried about how things are going with introducing your puppy to a cat, don’t forget Zigzag is here for you. Our expert team of puppy coaches will be happy to help solve your puppy and cat introduction dilemmas. Just get in touch.
Dog breeds that get along well with cats
If you want to be more sure that your puppy and cat are going to get on, it can be worth doing your homework and seeking out a breed that is more likely to see your cat as a friend rather than ‘a thing to chase’.
Generally, dogs who herd are going to be more likely to want to chase your cat and herd them somewhere, which can cause problems.
Similarly, your terriers are bred to find and kill small vermin, not saying your cat is vermin, of course. Cats don’t take too kindly to that either.
Of course, this is a generalisation, and there will be Belgian Shepherds, Greyhounds, and Rat Terriers who curl up at night with their meowing companion and never chase them, but you get the idea!
Most breeds who have had the ‘stalk – chase – grab – bite’ part of their motor pattern removed by selective breeding will be more cat friendly.
Here’s a list of breeds and crossbreeds you should take a look at if you’re looking for a dog that is less inclined to chase after your cat.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Maltese Terriers
- Basset Hounds
- Springer Spaniels
If you’re thinking about a particular breed or crossbreed, speak to your prospective breeder and let them know you have a cat. If they’re a good breeder, they’ll be happy to help you make the right choice. Choosing a breed is a big decision!
We hope you’ve found this article on how to introduce a puppy to a cat helpful. We also suggest you check out our article on puppy-proofing the house, as that will come in handy for you, whether you’re introducing your cat to a puppy or not!
Don’t forget, you’ll find a lot more information on everything you need to do before and after you get your puppy home, as well as a bespoke puppy training programme all inside the Zigzag puppy training app. We have a team of expert puppy coaches on hand to answer all of your questions.
See what leading dog training and behaviour organisations have to say about Zigzag too!