Introducing New Pet Siblings

Adding a new pet to your household soon? Having more than one pet in your family can be a lot of work, but well worth it! The Humane Society of the United States and American Humane help us break it down from animal to animal and give a few tips and tricks for a smooth meeting.

Introducing Cat to Cat
It’s best to introduce new cats gradually so as to not upset them. Start the new pet in another room with litter, food, water, toys, a bed and a scratching post so it can get used to its new situation. Feed both cats on either side of the door, so they associate food (something enjoyable) with each other’s smells. Eventually, introduce the new cats to each other with complete supervision. They might stare at each other, or try to play. Having a toy available is a great way to encourage play or make use of a distraction if needed. As cats are territorial, be on the lookout for your existing cat to show signs of discomfort with the newcomer, which includes not using the litter box. If you have any severe problems, always call your veterinarian.

Introducing Cat to Dog or Dog to Cat
Before introducing a new cat to a dog, or vice versa, it’s important to consider both animals’ personalities. It may be beneficial to look for a cat that’s been around dogs in the past, or a dog that has been around cats. Be sure to separate the animals in the beginning, and rotate them to confined and free areas, giving them plenty of time to investigate the other’s scent. Keep in mind that sometimes, the cat will need more adjustment time than the dog. Next, make leashed introductions, and continue this until both parties are calm (i.e. the dog mostly ignores the cat, and the cat is eating and using the litter box with the dog around). As always, watch for any signs of discomfort or aggressiveness between the cat and dog, and be sure to call your veterinarian or a professional trainer immediately if needed.

Introducing Dog to Dog
First things first, introduce new and existing dogs on neutral territory, preferably outside. Each dog should be on a separate leash. Walk them by each other at a certain distance, and praise for good behavior. The next step would be to walk the dogs at a shorter distance. It’s important to let the dogs determine their pace of the introduction.  If at any point aggression or stress is shown, revert to a longer distance and proceed more slowly with the introduction. When first familiarizing them in the home, use a sturdy baby gate to allow separation with viewing. As always, positively reinforce good behavior. A few things to remember: make sure that no toys, food or treats are left in the home that could potentially cause a fight, and closely monitor the dogs when together until you are confident they are comfortable and safe.

For help with situations that don’t seem comfortable for one or both dogs, call your veterinarian or a professional trainer.