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How do I Introduce My new Kitten to My Dog? Your Cats and Dogs CAN Get Along

Updated on December 30, 2015
Sherry Hewins profile image

I grew up with dogs and cats, and I am a long-time animal lover. It is all I can do to keep from bringing home any animal in need.

Joined: 5 years agoFollowers: 506Articles: 46

Cats vs Dogs, Why Would You Choose When You Can Have Both?

Beagle dog with black and white kitten
Beagle dog with black and white kitten | Source

Dogs or Cats?

People often ask, "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" I say, why should I have to choose between them? Dogs and cats both have their special advantages, and I would never want to do without either of these wonderful species of animal in my life.

If you already have cat aggressive dogs, you may think it is not possible to add a cat to your household, but that is not true. Most dogs can be trained to accept a kitten into the family.

How to Introduce Your new Kitten to Your Dog

I have successfully used this simple method to introduce two eight-week old kittens to my four cat-chasing dogs.

Start with Spunky Kittens

I adopted kittens instead of grown cats because I thought they would have a better chance of adapting to the dogs. I got the spunkiest kittens I could find. I know nothing stimulates my dogs to chase more than a cat that runs from them, so I was looking for cats that would stand their ground.

Introduce your Pets Slowly

If your dogs are anything like mine, they will be very excited and interested in the new kitten. When you first bring the kitten home keep it in a safe, quiet place for a few hours. I used a spare bedroom, I left them in the carrier for about an hour, then after they had a chance to relax, I gave them the run of the room.

Give Them Time to Get Used to Each Other

When the kittens seemed to be feeling at home, I brought in the first dog. I went with the most mellow dog first. If you have two people, you can each hold one of the animals. Pet them and get them calm, and let them get used to seeing each other.

If the cat doesn't seem afraid, let them sniff each other. If the animals seem comfortable, let them on the floor together. For this first meeting I kept it short, maybe 5 minutes. Give the kittens a break, then introduce the next dog.

Give Love and Praise

I continued in this manner for a couple of days, keeping the kittens isolated in their room between meetings, and increasing the length of time the animals spent together.

If the kittens seemed afraid, I comforted them, but I didn't have much to worry about there, it was a pretty amusing sight to see this tiny kitten hissing and swatting at my 125 lb Rottweiler, but these cat's didn't back down a bit.

If the dog made any, even slightly aggressive, movement I would give him a stern "No," and pet the kitty to show him, it's my kitty, then pet the dog to reassure him, he's still my dog.

Give the Kittens a Safe Place

When I felt like everyone was pretty comfortable one-on-one, I put up a baby gate over the door to the kitten room and left the door open for short periods of time.

Only when I was there to closely supervise, I allowed the kittens to come out of their room through the gate to visit. This way if they needed to retreat they had a safe place to go. Within a week of bringing my kittens home, the cats and dogs were able to co-exist in the house without a problem.

Monitor them Carefully Until you are Sure

Once the kitties got a little bigger, they found the doggy door. I had always intended them to be indoor-outdoor cats. When the cats started going out in the yard I had to do a little more training with the dogs until they got used to seeing the cats outside.

Be sure to observe the interactions between your cats and dogs carefully until you are sure that the kitties are safe.

Now my cats and dogs are friendly, even affectionate toward one another.

My Dogs and Cats Together

My 4 dogs and 2 cats peacefully coexisting
My 4 dogs and 2 cats peacefully coexisting


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    • pattysue 4 years ago

      Sherry...I LOVE this approach!!! You took time with everyone involved and corrected the dogs in an appropriate manner. I had a client this week with a shy, fearful, protective young dog...and as the dog growled at me and misbehaved his owner offered "Good Girl"..."You're allright"...and "Atta Girl"s to her inappropriate behavior... Guess What? He was positively reenforcing her bad behavior!!! Bless his kind heart...he didn't mean to and he doesn't have a clue to what he was doing. His excuse...he doesn't have the money for trainging classes or the experience to go without them. Suggestion...?!? Most classes are for training the human, not the animal. It is FREE to go to the library and check out books to educate yourself in the absence of personal experience...OR ask someone with common sense and 'pet logic' on how to approach the situation...then be consistent and learn from each other! Well done Sherry!!!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, thanks for your insightful comment. You're right it really is just common sense. It is amazing how quickly you can change your dog's behavior with just a little focused effort.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country

      I think your methods make the point that patience is the key-- working it a little bit at a time.

      We have a small 'min-pin-terrier- chihuahua? mix" house dog who is a little excitable when she sees other animals.

      Our hens are starting to get a little aged and we recently got a couple of baby chicks -- but kept them in a cage in the house, because our spring weather has been cold and stormy.

      Our dog was curious and excited, but gradually calmed down and seemed to regard them as her pups-- sleeping by the cage and sticking her nose in to check on them. The chicks became accustomed to her, too-- and didn't hesitate to peck the doggie nose, when they thought she was being too nosey.

      Now that the chicks are half grown and outside in an enclosed area with the older hens-- dog and chicks still come up to the fence to greet each other amicably.

      A gradual, focused and patient approach can make unlikely pairings get along fine. You were wise to get kittens who were not too timid.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I love that story, thank you so much for telling it. I hope you took some photos of that.

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 4 years ago

      I always looked after friends dogs in the holidays but had to stop when we got kittens. They were absolutely terrified of dogs. Your hub has encouraged me to try again. Voted up and useful. Wish there was a category very interesting.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for your comment seanorjohn.Of course part of the secret is to get the cats accustomed to dogs while they are young.It still may be possible with older cats, especially if the dogs are not cat aggressive.Just take it slow and make sure you always have control so nobody gets hurt.

    • Nicky H 4 years ago

      Hi Sherry,

      That's a very helpful article, I have a question though! I have two Staffies, a male and a female and I've been trying to introduce a kitten to them both for the last 3 weeks, using similar tips. My male is oh so ready to play and get on with the kitten, but my female is highly alert and tense around the kitten. We find it very difficult to distract her - she was not even intrested in treats by her nose! She is a very intelligent and stubborn character - which probably does not help! Any ideas on how to distract her, get her to shift her focus? Thanks!

    • Ashleigh Gare 4 years ago

      Hi there i hope you can help me , I have two huskys one female 8months and one male 13months we have had our new kitten for about 3weeks now and maple our female isn't warming to the new kitten I'm unsure what to do, the kitten does stand her round but I see this look in maples eyes and she licks her lips too , any advice would be awesome, kind regards

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Ashleigh, Maple may never like the kitten, but you should be able to teach her not to hurt the kitten. I would have the dog spend supervised time with the kitten, without the other dog, in short increments several times a day as I described before. Any time you see her lick her lips, or you think she's eying the cat aggressively, tell her "no" sternly, let her know that she's not allowed to even think about hurting that kitty. As soon as she backs off praise her. Until you feel you can trust her, don't leave the kitty around her unsupervised. Good luck, it sounds like you have your hands full.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Our son brought kittens into his house with his labs. They were all doing fine the dogs seem to be ok with the kittens. One day a kitten walked to the black lab's food dish and she bite it in the head. She came close to killing the kitten. They rushed it to the vet and vet said he didn't think it would live but she made it. We ended up with the kitten.

      We have always had cats and dogs and have brought new kittens to the house never any problem so I just couldn't believe his dog did this.

      Voted up.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, lucky that kitty survived. It only takes a second for a big dog to kill a little kitten. I've never had anything like that happen, but it's always a possibility.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      It is possible and big dogs will also go after a puppy. We found that out one time when our son brought over his new lab puppy, our lab went after the puppy. The minute we yelled he stopped, the puppy was ok. I'm always a little leery when bringing a new little one into the house, kitten or puppy.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beautiful and interesting hub. I had never seen dogs get along so well with cats. Most dogs would be chasing after frightened cats and bite their heads off! Amazing skill and techniques you have here. Just beautiful.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 2 years ago

      Awesome! We have a lot in common Sherry! I love the picture of your dogs and cats together. That's what it is supposed to be about! You obviously worked hard for this glory and your pets are certainly loved.

      I have a similar situation where we have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 3 birds, and a pig, all rescued. I grew up on a farm so I've always had a passionate place in my heart for animals. We adopted our border collie from out-of-state. We thought she was a lab. We live up north and labs are expensive and hard to find. Not many last long at shelters. So I had contacted a rescue group about getting her and they have a policy that we had to hire a dog behaviorist to verify that my home was safe considering the other animals we own.

      The dog behaviorist came in and saw the cats laying on the back of the couch while the dogs sat together politely to greet him. He said that he had never been in to a home where all the animals were so friendly to each other and so welcoming to him. It was a really good feeling because I do work very hard at being the best pet owner I possibly can be.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That is wonderful CraftytotheCore - Your pets are lucky to have found you, and I am sure you feel the same about them!

    • william 2 years ago

      i have a long datschund and i will be getting a kitten soon so this will be very helpful. thanks for the advise

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I love dachshunds! Good luck with the new family member.

    • Regan 16 months ago

      im getting a kitten in December and I so want to make it work with my big mutt. I appreciate your advice and photo!!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 16 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Regan - good luck with your new addition. I do firmly believe that, with patience, you can make it work.

    • Kylean McCallister 10 months ago

      I just got an 11 week old female kitten. She is very playful and friendly with both my husband and myself. However we also have an almost 2 year old border collie/Australian cattle dog mix. He is also very friendly and playful and gets along great with other dogs. He is however scared of almost everything and his only previous exposure to cats was a stray that would his at him and swat at his nose when he got close. The kitten and the dog seem interested in one another and watch each other very closely but if the dog moves too close to the kitten she hisses at him which in turn causes him to run away from her (I'm sure in fear of being swatted like the other cat did). I don't want to have to lock either one of them up in a bedroom but the kitten will really only come out of hiding if the dog is locked up. How can I get the kitten to quit hissing at the dog? He doesn't show any aggression towards her and wants to play but she doesn't seem at all interested in him being anywhere near her.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 10 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Have your husband hold one animal while you hold the other. Let them see and sniff one another, but don't allow the kitty to scratch the dog. Give both of them plenty of petting, praise and treats. If you do that for ten minutes, several times a day, they should become more accustomed to one another.

    • Denise 6 months ago

      I had a spayed 4 month border collie mix and was given an 8 week old kitten. The dog seemed to like her very much. I came home at lunch to check on them and found the kitten love caked to death, stiff and wet. There was no sign of dog being aggressive. She licked kitten as mother dog would lick a pup. I kept dog gat d in kitchen with her bed while I was at work and kitten in next room with food and litter box. Looks like kitten got over the gate. I found the kitten in dogs bed, wet and stiff. Why would a very friendly dog have licked the kitty to death.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 6 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Denise, I'm sorry to hear about you kitty. Perhaps the dog just got carried away with the licking and killed the kitten by accident.

    • Tina 4 months ago

      This is my first kitten and I am trying to follow your method. My 7 year old poodle appears at times very indifferent about this very hyper kitten. My first main problem was my kitten hates being separated (she came from a house where is lived with dogs so this process was really to get my dog use to a new addition to the household) and she would meow whenever I would separate her to her room. Yet, recently my kitten has been doing; what I can only assume is trying to suckle on my poodle. My dog hates it and will at first gently get up and move but the kitten will just follow her around and keep trying. I try to redirect the kitten, distract her but nothing appears to work. What should I do? I don't want my dog to get aggressive to get the kitten to stop because I don't want her to think she has to be aggressive with her now.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I wonder if that kitty was weaned too early. I have seen that behavior in cats before, and it is often a lifelong habit. If the dog is only snapping at the kitty, and not becoming too aggressive, that may discourage the cat's behavior. It will have to be up to you to judge whether it is safe to allow the dog to reprimand the cat. You could try distracting the kitty with a toy, perhaps something soft it might transfer its sucking to.

    • Tori 2 months ago


      I live in a double story house and I have a 1 year old German Shepard who isn't allowed into the house at all. I recently adopted two feral kittens and now that they've gotten comfortable around me and don't hiss and scratch anymore, I would like to introduce them to the dog. We live upstairs and I don't want to contradict the dogs training by bringing him in to get used to the kittens so I would like to know if you have any advice on how to introduce them without them being aggressive. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 8 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Tori, Do you plan on having the kittens be outdoor cats? Is your dog generally aggressive toward cats? You can follow the same steps as I described for indoor training. Perhaps walk the dog first to help him get out some energy and make him calmer. Then have the meetings in a safe and controllable environment. Have a helper to keep both animals under control. Take your cue from the animals as to how fast to move along. Do not leave them together unsupervised until you are sure it's safe, but the more time they spend together, the sooner they will get used to each other.

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