Here at Waldo’s Friends, we love sharing heartwarming rescue stories that involve animals finding their furever homes. While every rescue tale is special, we have a soft spot for adopters who welcome different animal species—specifically cats and dogs—into their homes because it reminds us of how Salsa and Waldo came together and eventually became fur siblings.
If you’re interested in adopting a dog when you already own a cat, know that it can be done successfully. Though there are many factors that should be considered by cat owners, the benefits definitely outweigh all the challenges that may come up. You save two lives instead of one, and receive double the love!
The primary concern is everyone’s safety at home, so make sure to read up on these tips before signing the dog’s adoption papers and letting him into your cat-dominated home.
Find out about the animals’ backgrounds
Ask the shelter or rescue if the dog you want to adopt grew up around cats. If he did, then he will less likely be curious about your cat. The same goes for your pet. If you know that he has been previously exposed to dogs and has shown no aversion to them, then there’s a greater possibility that he may not feel threatened by the dog.
Factor in the animals’ ages
Puppies and kittens have a bigger chance of getting along since they are highly adaptable. Some adult cats react badly to change and might have a harder time accepting a puppy, especially one that’s very active, playful, and encroaches on his space. If you plan on bringing home a pooch that’s younger than your cat, it’s best if he can follow basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” so that you can control him when they finally meet.
Consider the dog’s breed
Some breeds are known to have high prey drives, compelling them to hunt, chase, and take down smaller animals. This can be a problem when your cat tries to move away, and your dog continues to go after him. Though a dog can be trained not to run after a cat, you might want to consider adopting a dog with low prey drive.
Request for a trial run
Ask the shelter if you can do a trial adoption with the dog to discover how he will adjust to being with your cat, and vice versa. It may take some time for both animals to get used to each other’s scent and personality, so find out how much time you can get before paying the adoption fees and signing on the dotted line. Make sure to start the trial only if you are around at home to help the two animals adjust to each other.
Prepare for their first meetup
Once you’ve made up your mind about adopting a dog, you should make the necessary arrangements to optimise your dog and cat’s first few encounters. Read up on our best practices on how to introduce a cat to a dog, which includes how to desensitise the animals to each other as well as how to maintain peace between the two species.
Remember that all their interactions should be supervised with your dog held on a short leash, then eventually without it. If your cat is shy or skittish, you can also place him inside his carrier. Observe each animal’s reaction and reward good behaviour with positive words and tasty treats.
Provide for each pet
During the trial period, create safe spaces for each animal that they can escape to if and when they feel threatened. Make sure that the dog cannot access the cat’s food (it is not recommended for dogs to eat cat food) or get into the litter box (he may accidentally barge in while your cat is peeing or pooping, or worse, eat the feces). More importantly, make it a point to devote equal amounts of time and attention so both animals feel loved and cherished.
Have realistic expectations
Depending on the personalities of your pets, it might take them days, weeks, or sometimes even longer to adjust to one another. Let them be. As long as they do not hurt each other when they come into contact, they will eventually grow closer and form their own special pawsome bond.
Now you’re equipped with all the things to consider before adopting a dog when you already own a cat. We hope this article has encouraged you to adopt your next paw kid from the nearest shelter. If you’re living in Australia, you can explore our shelter finder list.