Foster Pet Introductions: Introducing a Foster Cat to Your Resident Dog
Cats and dogs can mix, unlike what the cartoons show. Learn how here!
It’s age-old fodder for cartoonists and children’s programs: putting a dog and a cat together. And if the former are to believed, you should stay away from mixing these two animals at any cost.
But don’t let that dissuade you. According to experts, it is possible to foster a cat when you already have a dog, and have the two live together harmoniously.
They key, though, is to make sure you can live happily with them, too, and that you’re not spreading yourself too thin and can still interact with each animal and exercise your dog. A number of experts give their advice to Petside readers about fostering a cat when you already have a dog:
- If your dog is excessively playful, think twice about introducing a cat to your house as he could injure a cat.
- Pay plenty of attention to your resident dog when you foster a cat. If anything, pay more attention so she doesn’t feel neglected.
- Keep the animals separate at first, using a barrier or baby gate or putting the dog in a separate room. “It’s up to the owner to make sure they are comfortable around each other, and this allows the cat to investigate if it wants,” says Victoria Wells, senior manager of behavior and training at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center in New York City. “If there is no hissing, excessive interest on the dog’s part, then you could think about introducing them.”
- Make sure both animals’ claws have been trimmed, suggests Wells, especially the cat’s, since dogs’ claws tend to be filed down through walking. Most shelters will do this for you.
- Provide your foster cat with hiding spaces, mostly high ones, she says. “You don’t have to get an expensive cat condo but maybe some bedding in a bookshelf, so he can get away from the dog.”
- If you intend to have the foster cat go throughout the house, it is a good idea to give the cat quiet time to let it explore the house without the dog, until it finds places to hide, says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, professor at the veterinary school at Texas A&M University and past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Keep the cat litter, food and water out of the dog’s reach—maybe elevated. And keep the dog’s food out of the cat’s territory. Neither animal can digests the other’s food, Wells warns.
- Ensure that your dog is good with his obedience skills, especially with recall and “leave it” which could be used for the cat, cat toys, or cat food, Wells says.
- Have separate toys, both for territorial reasons and because both enjoy different playthings. But most importantly, Wells points out, because dogs can swallow cat toys.