Those of us with cats know well how skittish they can be when any new animal enters the household. It would be a shame to deprive your new Peppertree dog of a lovely home because of first impressions. Cats take a while to adjust.
We will assume that your new Peppertree dog is "good with cats." That means that it really likes them, or can take them or leave them, or ignores them, and respects their space.
Cats, however are a different matter. Their backs go up, their fur stands on end, they hiss and yowl, and often turn and run. This is NOT a sign that all is lost. It is just normal feline self preservation technique. If the dog approaches where the cat feels trapped it will lash out and give the dog a good scratch on the nose. The dog beats a hasty retreat!!!
An ideal way to introduce two animals is to have a room with a screen door on it, where you can enclose the cats. That way they can feel safe, see the new arrival, get its scent, and get used to each other's presence. The dog should always be on lead during the introduction period even when the cats are confined.
The next best thing would be a wire cat cage, or a cat carrier, in which the cat feels safe, can indulge in its reactions but not run away. The "good with cats" dog will either ignore the cat in the cage altogether, or go over for a friendly sniff, and finding itself unwelcome, go investigate something else. After all the dog is new to the area. There is more than a cat or two to think about. When the cats see the dog is not eager to pursue them they begin to relax while the dog is in the room.
It is possible to construct a satisfactory temporary cat cage with a plywood base, 1"x 2" framing with screening stapled on, and a lift-off screened top. These also work well for introducing cats to each other. If there is no way to confine the cats where they can see but feel safe, the next best thing is to keep them in one room and the dog in a room next to it for a few days. This way they get used to each other's scents before they encounter each other.
When all seems peaceful, and there are no distractions, put one cat and the dog each on a lead. Cats should be on at least a figure 8 harness, or better still the H type. Collars slip off of cats. If there are two people in the house, each one is in charge of an animal. If just one person, then tie the dog to a doorknob, or piece of heavy furniture. You hold the cat. Whoever has the cat might profit from heavy gloves and thick lap padding in case the cat becomes a pin-cushion! But don't let the cat run farther than the lead. After a few evenings of closer encounters the cat will begin to relax. Then it is just a matter of time.
Sometimes when a new dog arrives, the resident cat owner feels that the cats should have a period of time during 24 hours when the cats are free of stress from the new dog. Unless the dog has separation anxiety it might be crated or confined at night, possibly somewhere else in the house to give the cats free run. Later in the same area as the cats. Of course there are those rare occasions when certain animals take strong dislikes to each other. In that case, the dog goes back to Peppertree. (The cat was there first).
We are willing to bet, however, that if some of the steps outlined above are followed, and the situation is approached with patience and good humor, the cat and dog, while not necessarily becoming bosom buddies, will be cool.
This page was last modified at 19:08:26 on 08/14/2006.