December 2010 Issue

Make Safe Cat-Dog Introductions

With some planning and patience, you can usually integrate both pets happily into your home.

Some folks are "dog people," while others have an affinity for cats. But what do you do when enthusiasts of both persuasions share the same home? Despite the conventional wisdom that dogs and cats canít peacefully coexist, both species can inhabit the same space without the fur flying. However, introducing a cat into a dog-centric home requires planning, patience and a commitment to the process. How long it takes to successfully integrate a new cat with a dog depends on the situation, says Katherine Houpt, VMD, PhD, board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and emeritus professor of animal behavior in Cornell Universityís College of Veterinary Medicine. "It can take anywhere from days to weeks, and it varies a lot with the dogís reaction," she says. "I think itís important to increase exposure gradually when doing an introduction so you can monitor both animalsí reactions. That usually happens over a number of days."

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