How To Introduce My Puppy To Cats

Dogs, like many mammals, are highly social animals with a hierarchy, language, and communication system all their own. If you’ve ever owned more than one dog at once, you’re probably already aware of this, having watched your pets communicate, dominate and urinate all over the place.

Puppies are the same, of course, socializing with their siblings and, after adoption, their new puppy parents and their families. Many puppies are adopted into homes with other dogs already present and children and, in many cases, other animals.

One of the other most popular pets in America after the dog is the cat, of course, and many puppies are adopted into homes where a cat (or several of them) has already taken over the place. I personally know many folks with dogs and cats under the same roof. Some live joyously together while others, not so much. 

If you have cats and you’ve just adopted a puppy, one of the burning questions you might have is one that I was thinking about recently. I cared for my neighbor’s puppy and watched how she interacted with the adult cats in the home. (It was fascinating.) While I did, one question entered my mind; how to introduce my puppy to cats?

The answer to this intriguing question is very carefully, with planning, consideration, and lots of patience. It also depends on various factors, including the species of cat and dog that are being introduced. The cats’ age is also a significant factor, as older cats tend to be more set in their ways and don’t suffer silly puppies lightly. The number of cats in the house is also a factor, as it can be overwhelming for a little puppy to deal with several cats at once. 

Many other factors will also need to be considered when introducing your puppy to your cats. I’m going to take a look at most of them below to give you an idea of the best way to do it for your particular puppy and feline(s).  

I’ll also look at a couple of other questions that some of my readers have, including the vaccination status of their puppy and how it affects being introduced to cats. Plus, methods of helping your puppy to get along with your cats (some of which, admittedly, are more successful than others).

Preparing for the Puppy / Cat Introduction

Bringing two animal species into the same home can be tricky, especially for two species that have a history of getting along… poorly. Preparing your home is vital, including preparing for where your animals will sleep, eat, go potty, and several other things. Here are a few excellent tips to help you prepare for the introduction of your new puppy and cats:

  • Make sure there are plenty of locations and spaces where your cat(s) can get away from your puppy if they need to retreat or take a break.
  • Move your cat’s water and food bowl to a new area if your puppy will need to be there while they potty train. Doing this a few days ahead of time will give your cats time to get accustomed to the change before all sorts of puppy heck breaks loose. 
  • Remember that, while it’s a puppy to you, your cat might have no idea what this new creature is and whether or not it’s dangerous. It’s natural for your cats to be scared, at least at first.
  • Also, remember that some cats will scare puppies too (or worse) especially big cats that are used to being the boss of their particular home. 

The First Few Days After Your Puppy Arrives Home

The first few days your precious new puppy spends in your home are crucial for them, you, and your cats. You can use several methods to introduce them slowly, but the one I like best is below. I put it in steps that you can follow to successfully introduce your puppy to your cats with the least amount of stress for both.

  1. Before bringing your new puppy home, put your cat in their favorite room along with their regular bed, food, water, and their litter box.
  2. When your cat is securely in their room, bring in your puppy and allow them to explore the entire house.
  3. Once they have explored everywhere sufficiently, bring your puppy into their new room, and put them in their crate. Like your cat, make sure they have good bedding, water, food, as well as a pee pad.
  4. Let your cat out of the room where they were secured and let them explore the entire house, getting used to the odor of your new puppy ( their new animal sibling).
  5. Repeat this process several times over several days. When they finally meet, each will be well aware of the other’s scent.

Crate-trained Puppies Make Introductions to Your Cats Easier

When introducing a new puppy to cats, dog experts agree that having a crate-trained puppy makes things much easier. That’s because the puppy and cat can be introduced with the crate as a barrier between the two (just in case). If the puppy is already crate-trained, their anxiety level will be low. The cat, sensing the security of the crate, will also be on low alert, which helps the introduction process along. In other words, the crate allows for a much better, less stressful, (and less destructive) introduction between your puppy and your cats.

Can Puppies Be Introduced to Cats Before they’re Done with Vaccinations? 

As a puppy parent, the decision to introduce your puppy to cats before their vaccinations are completed is in your own hands. The good news is that most diseases that dogs and cats can have are species-specific. That means they don’t spread to other species, so a cat won’t get a puppy sick and vice-versa. 

There are very few exceptions to this rule, with fleas and ringworm being two of them. Other than that, there’s not much danger or risk involved when introducing a puppy to your cats before they’ve been fully vaccinated. (Whether or not your puppy or cats will like the new arrangements, however, is another story entirely.)

How Do I Get My New Puppy to Get Along with My Cat?

There are many methods you can use to try and get your new puppy and cat to get along. Some work, others not so much, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Some of the better methods that I’ve run across for ensuring that puppies and cats get along include:

  • Training. A well-trained puppy will have far fewer problems with its cat siblings when they become adults.
  • Let them sniff the other’s bedding and toys before they meet, to get to know the other’s scent.
  • Keep their food and tots separate.
  • Feed them both on a regular and separate schedule, and make sure one can’t get to the other’s food and vice versa.
  • If possible, raise a puppy and kitten together. This might be the very best method to ensure your puppy gets along with your cats.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how to introduce your puppy to cats, the answer is very carefully, with planning, consideration, and lots of patience. There’s no one right way to do it, and not all cats and puppies will get along. Raising puppies and kittens together s one of the best ways to ensure they get along well as adults.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about how to introduce your puppy to cats. It’s not an easy situation, that’s for sure, but if done well will ensure that your precious puppy and curious cats get along well for years to come. If you have more questions about introducing your puppy to cats or any other puppy-related subjects, please see my other blogs. They’re packed with useful, real-world information that can help you become a better puppy parent.