The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Pets

September 25, 2013

Cats and dogs: They really can get along

If you’re a dog owner looking to add a new cat to your home, using a systematic approach to introduce the two to each other will ensure that your household won’t have anyone fighting like cats and dogs. AKC Meet the Breeds – the world’s largest showcase of dogs and cats in New York City – offers dog lovers the opportunity to learn directly from the experts, including the following tips to help introduce a new cat to your dog.

—Carefully consider your dog’s personality and breed. Sight hounds, like the Ibizan Hound, which was originally bred to hunt rabbits, are most likely to have trouble with cats because their hunting instincts are triggered by their sense of sight. When small animals move quickly, sight hounds react immediately. Make sure your dog does not have a lot of prey drive before you bring a cat into the picture.

—Keep them separated at first. Keep the dog and cat separated for the first few days. This will help your new cat get acclimated to her new home. Let her live in a room with the door closed. Provide a litter box, water and food so the cat does not need to leave the room.

—The nose knows. Your dog will know there’s a new scent in the house. Let him sniff near the door of the room with the cat so he gets used to the smell. You can also let your cat sniff one of your dog’s toys so she becomes familiar with him.

—After a few days, let your dog in the room with the cat after he’s been exercised and is calmer. If the dog isn’t under good control, put him on a leash and do some training in the presence of the cat (come, sit, down, stay). Giving your dog a food reward for appropriate behavior in the presence of the cat will provide an incentive for him to continue acting appropriately.

—Always make sure the cat has a way to get away from the dog. A good example is a chair she can jump on to get to a space the dog can’t reach. Until the cat and dog are comfortable with each other, supervise their interactions and continue to provide a way for the cat to escape.

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