Adopting a double coated dog is a joy in itself. However, introducing it to the family cat is another thing. If you already have an adorable kitten or cat, then you are already half way there, as the cat already knows its territory. That can also be the barrier.
Let me tell you about a household setup I was involved in a few years ago. I was in a shared household with my partner and another housemate. It was a large two-storey 1970’s style house with five bedrooms and plenty of places to hide. My partner and I were contemplating adopting another double-coated dog after my partner’s Pomeranian passed away a year earlier. When we told the housemate our plans, he said he was interested in adopting a cat.
Having grown up with kittens and cats, I knew that in this instance it was best for the housemate to find and adopt a kitten first so it could settle in and mark its territory, which it did. Roughly about four months later my partner and I found the most adorable Japanese Spitz puppy and quickly pounced to ensure he would be part of our family.
Being a puppy of only eight weeks, ‘Zach’ was at a curious stage in life, so was the right age to introduce into the household. He was excited yet curious at the growing cat already living there. He could smell the cat throughout the house and instinctively knew that the cat was part of the ‘furniture’ so to speak.
We didn’t force any interaction between them, only leaving areas open where Zach would be if the cat wanted to pop in and discover the new addition to the family.
The cat was of a boisterous nature loving the large house and its many nooks and crannies. This helped in easing any tension between the two of them, because the cat could easily go to many safe spaces it wanted without Zach being able to access them. As she slept and often spent time in our housemates’ bedroom or separate lounge, there were times when they had their own space, so meeting and getting used to each other was a gradual thing.
Having separate eating areas is crucial so neither one could steal the other ones food. Even if it’s in the same room, then having an elevated area for the cat to eat is a solution which we used in our home.
Watching Zach pick up some of the cats habits was a funny thing. He loves washing himself, and even helped wash the cat (and vice-versa) on occasion. They would chase each other and play safely, and then sleep in the same room sometimes of an afternoon. Zach would also be around to protect the cat if any stray neighbourhood cats entered the property, and the cat would return the favour if any birds decided they wanted some of Zach’s fur for their nest. It was a sad day when we all had to vacate the house and go our separate ways.
We often think of adopting a kitten as company for Zach as he likes cats and would easily take to having one around the home again.