It is a great day when you find a new family member and you get to bring them home. Whether it is a cat, dog or other furry animal, you just can't beat the excitement. You have bought all the essentials, cleaned the house to make a good impression and to keep the new fluffy friend safe, there might be just one thing you forgot. What about the little fluffy friend you already have waiting at home?
You have to remember, when you leave the house, your animals don't know what your doing when you leave. So when you leave the house all excited and you come home with a bouncy, barky little piece of fur, your resident pet might not know what to think. That is why, you have to prepare them, more than anyone else in the house, to your new family member.
This is the most common scenario, you have a cat, or two, and you decided your family needed a dog. Now, most shelters help you know whether the dog you adopting does well with cats, but personalties differ and there can issues. The best relationship you can establish between your resident cats and your new dog is a strict hierarchy, and the cat is king. Most cats have the King/Queen complex anyways, so you play to their strengths. This means the cat gets to set the social rules.
When you bring a new dog home, you should restrict their access to the house anyways, but this greatly helps the cats comfort level. The first meeting should be on the cats terms, as much as you want to get the dog out and let them play, keep the dog crated while you are in the room, just for the first 30 minutes or so. This will give the household a moment to calm down and bring the dog into a calm environment. Some cats will come out to see what the comotion is, if you are lucky, the cat will smell the crate, be interested in it. Some cats will not even show their face, that is okay too. Your next move is to give the puppy one room. Usually the room everyone is in, because everyone wants to play with the dog.
Now it really depends on your cats normal personality at this point in the game. If you cat is very social and is usually the center of attention when you are home, you cannot take that away from them, cats can be resentful. So while one person is playing with the dog, find the cats favorite toy and play with the cat. If you have a cat that is pretty much a loaner, just give them a treat or something they like and you can leave them be, what ever makes them happy.
Now, it can never be promised that your two animals will be best friends. But if you are patient and listen to your animals well, you can live a peaceful household.
When my husband and I moved into our new house, I wanted to get a dog, he wanted to wait. Now I am not really known as a cat person. I would rather have a dog hands down. My mother-in-law had two cats and two dogs at the time. Her new dog had a great habit of torturing her long haired cat Smoochy. The dog (Havanna) would chase her all over the house, nip and bark at her, wanting to play with her. Well Smoochy started to get pretty stressed out. She was losing her hair, and hiding all the time, her normal personality was very social and people oriented. So we agreed to take Smoochy and she thrived in our home with all our attention.
Well I finally found our perfect dog, and she was an 8 week old puppy, so she wasn't tested for her cat tolerance, but I figured I could handle it if done correctly. I was worried about it because of Smoochy's history with dogs. I brought Roxy home, and Smoochy hid down stairs for about two days. Whenever I saw Smooch upstairs, I immediately put Roxy in her pen. Every once in a while, I would catch Smooch smelling Roxy's toys or pen, but she still didn't want anything to do with her.
One day Roxy was 9 weeks old and was loose in the living room. Smooch jumped over the gate and Roxy ran right over to her. Smooch was not happy and tried to jump back over and missed, this scared Roxy and she ran back towards me. Smoochy leaped over successfully but stayed on the other side looking at Roxy, who was playing with a toy.
Another step I took was I took blankets with Roxy's smell and placed them where Smoochy liked to hang out. It helped her get used to her scent.
One day after a lot of exercise, Roxy was crashed on the floor by our couch. Smoochy came right up and did her smell test. Roxy was pretty much asleep and didn't pay attention to Smooch. Smoochy stayed in the living room for a while, I played with her a bit, and she swished her tail and bounded off for a nap in the bedroom.
These days Roxy and Smooch are very good friends. Smoochy will even tempt Roxy to chase her, Smoochy will jump into the bathtub and they play peek-a-boo in there.
After we got settled in, we added another rescue to our family. Another short-haired cat named Scout. We did pretty much the same set up with meet and greet and it went well. Every morning Scout and Roxy will give each other baths, it is really silly looking. Scout is more of an independent cat, so it was easier because she didn't really want the attention.
Hope this article helps you. Remember, it all really depends on your own animals personalities, and the best thing you can do is be able to read them, and understand what they go through. Good Luck!