There is no doubt that more pets need to be adopted, so if you have the time and money to properly care for another animal, you’re a kitty or doggy parent candidate. However, when you already have a dog or cat at home, the new addition might not be so cute to your existing pet. It can cause dysfunction in the household as well as aggression, nervousness and various inappropriate behaviors, but this shouldn’t deter you from pet adoption. Instead, you just need to approach the formal introduction safely and sensitively.
Prepare Safe Spaces Inside and Outside
Dogs and cats are territorial creatures. When introducing a new dog to a loyal friend, do it outside in a neutral area. Some canines are overly protective of their home, which is why the inside of your house might not be such a great place to start. Having both of the dogs leashed will give you control over the situation, and you can always pull the dogs apart in case they become rowdy.
For the indoors, keep a crate nearby. Your existing pet might want to seek safety in it even if he/she hasn’t been in the crate since potty training days. In addition, a dog-free zone can be created with a gate. It’s nice to section off the dog so your new cat can explore without fear.
In general, it’s best for you to be around and present, because your calm energy can help relieve tension and constant supervision can prevent injuries or fights.
Minding the Little Things
Some things you might not consider important can change the way the initial introduction goes. For example, trimming your pets’ claws is a good idea, because it reduces the risk of injury. Some cats don’t take to dogs immediately and puppies are more curious than defensive, which can result in blindness if your cat punctures your puppy’s cornea.
Also, mealtime is an important part of the adjustment. Some animals don’t like to eat their food around others, because they feel threatened, nervous or anxious. To ensure that your pets are eating well and not causing brawls during mealtime, it’s best to feed each pet in a separate room with a different bowl of their very own until they get along. Felines can be allusive creatures too, and you might have to keep a closer watch on your cat’s diet, especially if he/she starts hiding.
Providing more than one bathroom option can reduce inappropriate urination in the home. Veterinarians often suggest one litter box per cat. Remember, you pet is most vulnerable when going to the bathroom, and it does wonders when the potty area is peaceful and devoid of drama. Even the lid of a litter box can deter a feline from using it, and you might have to accept that your cat prefers an open box. For dogs, it can be beneficial to spot a quiet bathroom area outside before venturing outdoors. You can walk them closer to the woods or further into the backyard where they can’t see what your neighbors are doing or where it’s more enclosed by trees or a backyard structure.
Introducing a new pet into your home doesn’t have to be a nightmarish situation as long as you prepare ahead of time and spend quality time with both pets. It will take patience and maybe some creativity on your part, but eventually the household can regain balance.