How to Introduce Kittens to Dogs—Your Cats and Dogs CAN Get Along
Cats vs Dogs, Why Would You Choose When You Can Have Both?
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. They were a little afraid, 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.
I love the video below showing a German shepherd and a kitten becoming friends. The background sound however, is a bit annoying. You may want to watch it without sound.
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.
A Variation on this Method
My daughter recently adopted a kitten and had to introduce it to her two adult pit bulls. They already had a cat in the household, but that didn't mean the dogs were not super interested in the kitten.
The kitten was already used to dogs, and was not afraid of them. He was so fearless that it was a bit of a problem. Even though we didn't think the dogs wanted to hurt the kitten, we were afraid they would by accident.
My daughter started letting the kitten spend time with the dogs while inside his crate. That way they got used to the sight and smell of one another without danger. Within a week the dogs had calmed down enough that the cat could safely be set free.
There are a lot of high places in the house that the cat can go if he needs a break from the dogs.
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
Questions & Answers
My eleven-year-old kitten came home today. She was amazing with the kids and me. Very sweet, until the dogs scared her. She attacked me viciously. Is there anything I can do?
The cat was obviously frightened. She wasn't so much attacking you as she was trying to get away. Try keeping her in a crate for a while. That way she is safe, and so are you, but she and the dogs can get accustomed to the sight and smell of one another.Helpful 46
My two eight week old adopted kittens are scared of my dog. The orange one hisses whenever the dogs around. What should I do?
The kitten hissing is less of a problem than if the dogs were growling. Keep exposing them to one another, and make sure the dogs know not to hurt the cat and keep the cats safe. After a while, they will feel more secure.Helpful 39
Our two adult cats are uninterested in interacting with our dog because he runs up to them playfully. We know he isn't aggressive but our cats don't want to give him a chance. Any suggestions to help them want to interact and try to be friendly with the dog?
It is probably best to just leave them to work it out for themselves. Your cats may warm up to him, but if they don't there is probably not much you can do about it.Helpful 28
When I let my eight-week-old kitten outside to observe the area so she won't get lost, my beagle comes and sniffs her. Then, she will go a little bit farther away from me and my beagle will nip at her but not a full nip. What should I do?
You could put the dog on a leash so he can interact with the cat, but you can restrain him if he gets too pushy.Helpful 14
My 10-week-old kitten keeps picking fights with my chihuahua. My dog is scared of him. What do I do?
They will probably work it out for themselves. Since neither one is physically capable of doing serious injury to the other, I would just try to distract the aggressor when it seems to be getting out of hand. Other than that, just let them work it out.Helpful 10
© 2012 Sherry Hewins