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Purrfect Harmony: Introducing Your Cat to a Dog-only Home

Updated: Jun 7

So, you're considering adding a feline companion to a dog-only home. Congratulations! A multi-pet household can be a joy, filled with playful antics and heartwarming cuddles. That said, introducing a cat to a dog-friendly home requires careful planning. Today, we're breaking down our top tips for introducing your cat to a dog-only home. With a slow, positive, well-planned approach, you'll ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

Introducing Your Cat to a Dog-only Home: BEFORe

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Besties aren't made in a day!

Introductions may happen when all pets are in the same home but should start long before you bring your feline friend home. Once you have decided to add a cat to your family, consider the following steps:

  • Consider Your Dog's Breed and Background: Do yourself and your pets a favor and consider if your dog can harmoniously coexist with a cat. Many breeds with high prey drives may not work well in a multi-species household. When in doubt, consult your breeder, veterinarian, or trainer.

  • Be Honest & Detailed: Tell the breeder, rescue, or shelter you're working with about the humans and pets in your home. And, discuss your family's lifestyle with them. That way, they can help you choose a cat that best matches your family.

  • Consider Personalities:  Evaluate your dog's temperament. High-energy dogs might need more management than calm breeds. Choose a cat that is known to be dog-friendly or, at minimum, dog-tolerant.

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  • Prepare a Cat Haven: Before your new cat arrives, designate a quiet room as their haven or safe space. This room should have everything they need - a comfy cat bed, a litter box, food and water bowls, a scratching post or two, and hiding spots like cardboard boxes or cat trees. Guest rooms and bathrooms work well for this purpose, especially if they aren't used daily.

  • Refresh Your Dog's Listening Skills: Brush up on your dog's training and recall, especially cues like "leave it" and "stay." You'll need these cues to ensure they don't overwhelm or inadvertently startle the new arrival.

  • Consult a Professional:  If you're concerned about the introduction process, consider consulting a professional animal trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and ensure a smooth transition for your pets.

  • Scent Swap, if possible: Ideally, you'll want to introduce the animals to each other's scents before their first face-to-face meeting. Rub a towel on your dog and place it in the cat's haven. Do the same with a towel rubbed on the cat and put it near your dog's bed. This allows them to become familiar with each other's presence in a non-threatening way.

Introducing Your Cat to a Dog-only Home: DURING

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A proper introduction goes a long way. If you rush it or ignore signs of discomfort, you may make it more difficult for yourself and for your pets. Take your time and follow these tips on the big intro day:

  • Separate Them:  Keep your dog on a leash or in your yard when you first bring the cat home. Take your cat directly to their haven and let them explore it with the door closed. The goal is to give the cat time to feel safe and secure in their new home. Remember, for your new cat, this experience is not just about meeting new friends, it's about getting accustomed to a new home. This guide helps acclimate cats to their new surroundings.

  • Leverage Closed Doors: Closed doors are a great tool for introductions. Let your cats and dog sniff each other under the door for a few days, allowing them to recognize that other animals are present in the home.

  • Practice Caution: Be careful when opening the door to your new cat's haven. The last thing you want is your dog to bolt into their room and hurt or scare your new cat, who is still adjusting.

  • Exercise Your Dog Before Interactions: Let your dog get some of his or her energy out with a nice, long walk before allowing direct interactions. That way, your dog's energy is way more calm and easier for the cat to adjust to. We can help with our midday dog walking services!

  • Guide Interactions: With your dog on a leash and ideally another human present, crack open the door to your cat's haven slightly. Watch closely for your cat's body language. Hissing, flattened ears, and dilated pupils indicate fear. If this happens, close the door and try again later. Don't force them to cross the door threshold. Exploration should be safe and on the cat's terms.

  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Reward calm and curious behavior from both animals with treats and praise. This helps create positive associations with each other.

  • Expose Them to Each Other Gradually: Over time, gradually increase the duration and frequency of supervised interactions. If your dog shows excessive interest, use the "leave it" or "stay" command and redirect their attention with a toy. Having a high-level treat nearby helps.

Introducing Your Cat to a Dog-only Home: AFTER

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Creating a Cohesive Home means observing your pets' reactions and interactions. Acclimating your dogs to a new cat and vise versa can take time. Practice patience and consider the following best practices:

  • Separate Feedings: Schedule feeding times and places so your pets don't have to compete for resources. This helps prevent food aggression and ensures each animal gets the proper nutrition. A cat condo is a great option for keeping cat food away from insatiable canines.

  • Provide Vertical Territory: Speaking of cat condos, cats love climbing and feeling secure in high places. Provide cat shelves, towers, and perches to create vertical space where they can retreat if needed. This is an excellent safety measure as well as a way to meet your cat's needs.

  • Supervise Playtime: Supervised playtime is a great way for your pets to interact and burn energy. Choose toys that are safe for both cats and dogs. Rotate the toys to keep things interesting.

  • Practice Patience: Remember, introducing a cat to a dog takes time. Be patient and don't force interactions. Creating a calm, positive environment will encourage a trusting relationship to blossom between your furry friends.

With a little planning, patience, and positive reinforcement, you can create a harmonious home where your dog and cat can coexist peacefully, perhaps even becoming the best of friends. Remember, a happy and stress-free environment is essential for all your furry companions to thrive.

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At House of Paws, we are happy to continue the training and safeguards that you have in place. Just let us know so that we too can work with your pets during visits. To learn more about our dog walking, dog adventure, and dog sitting services, contact us by phone at

(314) 690-5154 or email us to If you're ready to book services in one of our service areas submit a new client form to begin our registration process.

House of Paws proudly serves Eureka, Wildwood, Ballwin, Manchester, Maryland Heights, Des Peres, Fenton, Chesterfield, Valley Park, Ladue, Creve Couer, Town & Country, Kirkwood, Sunset Hills, Clayton, Webster Groves, Maplewood, The Hill, South City & Affton.

We look forward to caring for your paws-itively perfect pets!


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