Because of the coronavirus pandemic, animal shelters saw a rise in pet adoption this year. Some households already have companion animals at home, so it’s a risk and quite challenging to introduce another animal in the family.

The trickiest one could be introducing dogs and cats. All too often, pet parents would just put them in a room together and hope they get along well. But sometimes, it result in the dog being chased by the cat and terrified.

The London Zoo offers a few tips for pet owners on how to handle this.

1. Keep them separated at first.

Keep your cat in her own area of the house with food, water, litter box, toys and good sleeping spots for the first few days. Put a gate between the cat and the dog, so that they can still get used to the sight and smell of each other. Provide them lots of attention, so both of them do not feel isolated as well.

2. Control interactions

Once they are finally comfortable in the presence of one another, you can now remove the gate between them and let them interact, but not without a leash. Each pet should be handled with one person.

Let them interact in short sessions (less than 5 minutes) and use treats and toys to keep them happy. It’s important to keep them happy, but do not get them close together. Gradually make their sessions longer overtime.

3. Provide high perches for your cat

Provide cat condos, trees and shelves so that your cat has a high spot where the dog can’t reach. These can be your cat’s safe space when it want to get away from the dog for any reason. You can use treats to encourage your cat to use the high perches.

4. Do it right the first time

If an initial introduction between dogs and cats does not go well, it will be hard to do a do-over. Introducing them to one another should be done right so the chances of them being friends will be right or at least tolerate each other.

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