Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: April 7, 2022

There is a misconception when it comes to the relationship between cats and dogs. A lot of us grew up believing that they are like oil and water. In reality, they can get along famously—if they are properly introduced.

Cats and dogs aren’t natural friends, but they also don’t have to be enemies. They can co-exist if they are properly introduced and socialized. With that said, this is a process.

You already have a dog that you love. You’ve either made the decision to get a kitty, though, or someone has moved in that has a cat. You can’t get rid of your dog. So, what do you do? There is actually a process that you can employ to introduce your new kitty to your pup. You just need to make sure you are patient and take the appropriate steps.

No matter what, your pets will need some time to adjust. Even if your dog has been friends with cats in the past and vice versa, any new pet will take a little time to introduce. By taking your time and introducing your pets in the right way, though, they’ll become friendly (or at least tolerate each other) in no time.

Can Cats and Dogs Get Along?

Yes! Cats and dogs can, indeed, get along. Actually, they can become friends over time. Worst case scenario, they should at least get to the point where they don’t annoy each other. There’s no way to guarantee your dog will love your new cat, but you can at least take the right steps to ensure they don’t hate the cat either. Sometimes neutral is the best you can shoot for. With that said, many cats and dogs end up playing, cuddling, and being cute overall together!

The earlier you can socialize each animal, the better. If you can start early with your puppy and kitten, they will be much more likely to enjoy time around the other species. Without any exposure, they will likely be a bit confused. This can lead to aggression if not checked. With that said, if introduced correctly, you’ll be able to limit negative interactions and reinforce positive ones.

Tips for Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Before you even consider introducing a cat to your household, you’ll want to consider your dog’s past with cats and the cat’s past with dogs. If your dog is known to be actively aggressive with cats, getting a new cat may not be a good idea. Aggressive behaviors can be changed, but it will take a lot of work. The same goes for your potential new cat. A lot of the time the shelter you are adopting from will have information on the cat and their previous living situation. If they are an adult cat, check to see if they have lived with dogs in the past. If it is a kitten, they may be a bit more adaptable. Kittens generally don’t have either positive or negative experiences with dogs.

Once you bring your new cat home, you’ll want to follow the steps below…

Introduce Your Cat to a Room

Once you bring your new kitty home, have a room set aside for them. This may be your bedroom, a guest room, or anywhere else that you don’t have set aside for your dog. In this room will be their feeding bowl, water bowl, litter box, and bed. You’ll also want to have some toys for them to play with. Initially, allow your cat to get used to the smaller area. Make sure they are eating and using their litterbox. Then allow them to get to know the rest of the house. Keep an eye out to ensure they aren’t spraying or scratching your furniture!

Keep Your Pets Apart

As your cat is getting used to their new home, make sure your dog stays in a room with the door closed. You want your cat to have the chance to explore without fear or interruption. Allow your pets to swap out the common space so they each have their time to stretch their legs and get used to each other’s scent in the common area.

Introduce with Smell

Along with your pets getting a whiff of each other’s scent in the common area, you’ll also want to give them the opportunity to smell each other in their own area. To do this, place a blanket or towel on the sleeping area of each animal. Let them sleep on the towel/blanket for a couple of days. Then, swap out the towel or blanket with the one belonging to the opposite animal. This allows them to “shake hands” by getting used to the scent of the other pet.

Scent is extremely important to animals. It’s good for them to get to know each other first through scent.

Play with Them Separately

After scent, it’s good to introduce your pets to each other through hearing. In order to do this, separate your pets with a door and play with them separately on each side of the door. Give them plenty of treats and positive reinforcement when they are actively engaged. It’s normal for them to be hyper-focused on the door at first. Over time, they will settle down. If they start getting really anxious, though, separate them and give them time to calm down.
Whenever your pet is focused on you and is joyful, reward them. The more they associate being positive around the other pet, the better.

Let Them See Each Other

This step is a little trickier. You want to give your pets the opportunity to see each other, but you also want them to do so in a positive and healthy way.

Invest in a strong pet gate. This is extremely important. Don’t cheap out on the pet gate. This gate is intended to keep your pets safe. If you have a bigger dog, buy a gate that is meant for their size. You don’t want them jumping up on the gate and knocking it over (and they will more than likely try). Once you have a strong gate installed, allow each pet out of their confined area with a towel or blanket obstructing their view.

The goal is for the two pets to co-exist in the same space, even if they can’t see each other. If either pet starts to get anxious and upset, separate them again. This process can take a while. Don’t expect them to get adjusted right off the bat.

Once they can exist in the same space, start to pull the sheet or blanket back so they can see each other. Start with a sliver, then over time pull it further back. Again, if they react negatively, take a step back.

It may take a few weeks for them to learn to co-exist in the same space. This is normal. It is going to take patience and time. Some pets are able to adjust faster than others—especially if they have past experience with the other type of animal. That said, expect it to take longer. There’s no rush!

Provide Them with Limited Access

Once they are able to co-exist in the same space, it’s time to slowly introduce the pets to each other. When you do this initially, make sure your dog is on a leash. You don’t want them to have complete freedom. Make sure your cat is able to approach the dog on their own time. Don’t let your dog rush over to the cat. If your dog tries, reset them. The first move should belong to the cat.

Eventually, they will say, “Hello,” to each other. Keep an eye on them as this happens. Once you are confident that there are no signs of aggression and your dog’s energy level is low, you can explore having them in the same space off-leash. Stay very calm during this phase but keep your eye on them. If you notice negative body language, separate them immediately.

Watch Their Body Language

There are a few tell-tale things you can look for when it comes to the body language of cats and dogs. These include:


  •       Hissing
  •       Arched back
  •       Ears flattened
  •       Tail tucked
  •       Crouching
  •       Facing sideways
  •       Hiding


  •       Growling
  •       Tail tucked
  •       Showing teeth
  •       Looking away
  •       Licking lips
  •       Yawning
  •       Ears back

It’s extremely important to understand the body language of your pets and look out for small shifts. Even if your dog isn’t barking and your cat isn’t hissing, it doesn’t mean they aren’t showing subtle signs of fear and aggression. Err on the side of caution and safety.

Over time, your dog and cat should get to know each other and learn to exist and thrive in the same space safely!

Reach Out to Stayyy Today!

If you would like additional help with your dog and ensuring they are properly trained, reach out to Stayyy. We’ll ensure they are well-trained before introducing them to your cat. This will increase the chances of success!