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Should You Adopt a Cat and Dog?

By Jennifer Viegas

Should You Adopt a Cat <em>and</em> Dog?

There is something very special about adopting during the winter holiday season. Just be sure that you are ready for the adoption commitment in every possible way: financial, space-wise, in terms of existing possible roommates and more.

If you are prepared to welcome a pet into your home, why not double the fun by adopting both a cat and a dog? To successfully bring home both pets, the pairing has to be done in a slow and careful manner. The Sacramento SPCA in California shares the following tips:

  • Provide your cat with a comfortable room of its own while it’s adjusting. Make sure it has everything it needs, including food, water, a litter box away from the food and water, a bed, toys, something to scratch on and regular playtime.
  • Barricade the room with a baby gate that's low enough for the cat to jump over while still blocking the dog. If the cat can't jump, set the gate so there's enough room that your kitty can go under it.
  • Make sure your cat has at least one other safe place. You can provide high perches using a cat tree (make sure it won't tip if the dog jumps against it), wide shelves or window ledges.
  • Your dog will need to be trained -- without the cat around -- to respond to some simple cues from you before they can meet.. At a minimum, this includes coming to you when called, sitting and staying. Be sure to use positive reinforcement.
  • Before the dog and cat have their first face-to-face meeting, put some of the dog's bedding in the cat's room and vice versa so that they can get used to the scent.
  • Once the animals are relaxed in each area, you can begin the actual meet-ups. Start them in separate rooms, propping the door between them open just a little bit, and having good things happen in each other's presence -- mealtimes, treats, play and petting.
  • It helps to have more than one person involved, so that someone can be managing the dog while the other can be taking care of the cat. If there's any fear or aggression, or if your dog gets overexcited and out of control, back up a few steps in the process until they're comfortable again. The extra work is worth it, as you’ll soon likely have a happy, loving multi-pet household.

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.

Tags: cat care

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