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My husband and I adopted a 4 month old puppy into our home with two 4 yr old cats 4 days ago. She's very mellow for a puppy and not very vocal, generally. At this point our puppy, Maya, and our cats occasionally get within 5-6 feet from each other but everyone is still on edge and only out of necessity. Maya is curious but we don't want to push our cats past their comfort zones. I understand time is the biggest factor here but I want to be sure we're instilling Maya with the right impression of the cats.

We're encouraging Maya to leave them alone by calling her away from the cats when she starts wondering toward them and using "no" on the occasion that she does bark at or chase them. I want to give our cats the time they each need to feel safe with her but am worried this will teach Maya she's not supposed to be near them. Is this the best approach? Any other ideas? This is my first experience introducing a puppy to cats and would love some advice.

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It sounds to me like things are going very well for it being only 4 days since you brought the puppy home.

I'd make sure that the cats have plenty of escape routes for times when they don't want to interact with the puppy. If you don't have a cat tree, now is the time to buy (or make) some. The ideal is that your cats could navigate the entire house without ever touching the floor (e.g. jump onto the chair, then onto the table, then up the cat tree, across the window sill, along the back of the sofa...).

Of course, not everyone has enough money or space to fill their house with enough cat trees and other things to achieve that ideal. But with a little ingenuity, you can probably fill the bigger gaps, at least temporarily. Move some of your furniture, add some boxes in strategic locations, etc. Dining room chairs are particularly handy for plugging gaps.

If the cats are nervous eating when the puppy is around, or the puppy tries to get at their food, you can "puppy-proof" the area with dining room chairs, or by placing the food in a box with a cat-sized entrance cut out.

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  • I like the idea of the cat tree, yep a safe haven is a good idea – user6796 Oct 9 '16 at 0:05
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In addition to the other answer I'd like to add a part answer about the chasing and barking. It's normal for the puppy to want to chase and bark at the cats and that is the worst thing she can do to make friends. I would recommend using a stern voice and a clear "no" when she starts that. You'll have to be close to her, to physically grab her when she's doing that and redirect her behaviour.

The other thing you can do is when they are close to each other, have some food treats handy and teach the puppy to sit calmly with lots of pats and little treats and catch phrases, "that's a good girl" so she associates being close to the cats to being a quiet and pleasant place.

Good luck.

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