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My boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together in the near future and I am curious as to the best way to get his dog and my cat accustomed to one another. My cat has never been around dogs except one time and he really freaked out. His hair stood on end and he tried to hide. My boyfriend's dog is very mellow and is already accustomed to living with cats so she's not really the problem.

Should I try separating the two for a bit? Or should we just put them in the house/apartment together and let them work things out on their own? I think my cat would adjust fairly quickly, but I don't really know.

  • Give the cat some safe places like as simple as jump on the counter. – paparazzo Dec 15 '15 at 2:20
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    Is everyone moving into a brand new house, or is one moving into the home of the other. – James Jenkins Dec 15 '15 at 16:11
  • @JamesJenkins - We will ALL be moving into a new place. – Chenip Dec 22 '15 at 2:25
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I volunteer at an animal shelter, and this is a very common question. The relationship takes time to build, and you need to be patient and willing to follow the steps necessary to make it work. It sounds like you are ready for this and really want it to work. This is the first step needed. So, thank you for caring about your animals. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Until both animals are comfortable, interactions must be supervised.
  2. If the dog is used to being crated, then crate him during your first few interactions. If not, use a baby gate and confine him to a portion of the house where he cannot reach the cat.
  3. Once the dog is confined, let the cat in the room to see the dog. Your kitty will be scared at first. That's OK and normal. Also, remember, hissing is not bad. It only means "I don't want any trouble."
  4. Let your cat approach the dog. Do not force any type of interaction. You will need to speak to your cat constantly, comforting and petting him (if he will let you).
  5. Have your cat's favorite treat ready. When the cat sees the dog, give your kitty a treat. After a couple sessions, he will start associating good things with seeing the dog.
  6. You can have your boyfriend do the same with the dog, if the dog starts to get jealous that the cat is getting food.
  7. The age and temperament of your cat will determine how many confined sessions you will need. Make sure the sessions are short at first and then gradually make them longer. You will start to see the cat coming into the room, cleaning himself, and probably ignoring the dog. This is actually a good sign. It means he's comfortable.
  8. Then, do the same steps with the dog behind a baby gate.
  9. Then, do the same steps with your boyfriend holding the dog on a leash.

Ideally, these steps should occur before the dog moves into the house, since this will take some time. If you rush the process, they may never be "friends." Also, as @Frisbee alluded, you will need a couple tall cat trees (at least 6 ft tall or taller), so your cat can get away from the dog when he wants.

If you follow these steps and let your cat lead the pace, you will have a happy home...and your kitty will be teasing the dog in no time. 😊

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  • Maybe also mention that the cat is going to have the home team advantage if visits occur on the cats "territory". If both are dominate (not the case here) neutral territory is best. – James Jenkins Dec 15 '15 at 16:14
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    Actually, I must kindly disagree. There is no such thing as neutral territory for a cat. Taking a cat out of his home (except for vet visits and emergencies) is never advisable. The cat will hide and try to escape, and no behavior modification techniques will work on a cat this frightened. Bringing another animal into the cat's house is about as neutral as it gets. – KittyConsultant Dec 15 '15 at 16:57
  • Tall cat trees are fun anyway and a worthwhile investment, esp. simple DIY designs. (A neighbor gave us an 8'-tall tree they were no longer using -- 4x4 centered on a plywood base, with plywood platforms alternating up two sides of it -- and mine love being able to meet me eye to eye or above.) – keshlam Dec 16 '15 at 8:10
  • @KittyConsltant - Thank you for the reply! I will definitely try this. My only concern is we will all be moving into a new house so my cat won't be on his 'own turf' type of thing. Do you advise anything different? Or should I just try to get him acclimated to the new house before we bring the dog in to the house? (His dog is with his parents so it wouldn't be a problem to wait a little bit before moving her in with us). Also, my cat is spoiled and already has a tall cat tree which will be moving with us as well, so that's good! :) – Chenip Dec 22 '15 at 2:25
  • @Chenip Yes, you are definitely thinking on the right track. The cat will need about a week in your new home, alone without the dog. He needs time to sniff every little aspect of the new house, rub his face on everything (i.e., put his scent everywhere), and choose his favorite spots for sleeping. Are you also bringing over the furniture from your current house to the new house? I know you're bringing the cat tree, which will help immensely. If you can bring over a couple other pieces from your current place, this will help him adjust faster. – KittyConsultant Dec 22 '15 at 16:37

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