Managing a Multi-Pet Household

The more the merrier. That old cliché holds true for many things, from guests at a party to explosions in an action movie. It can hold true for pets, too. However, if you’re thinking of starting or adding to your furry household menagerie, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your resident pets may not get along with your new additions. That makes introducing your newcomers to your household a very important. Here are a few tips:

Cat on Cat

Cats prefer their social situations to be fixed and consistent. Therefore, introduce new cats to your home slowly. Start by keeping your new addition in a separate room, so Kitty can get used to her new surroundings. Then switch her with your resident cat so she can get used to the new scent.

When your cats have adequately settled down, crack open the door and let them see each other. If this goes well, let them interact a little more. If they get aggressive, separate them and start over again, progressing more slowly.

Dog on Cat

You want your dog to be as relaxed as possible so give him some exercise to burn off excess energy. Start the introductions with the dog on a leash or behind a baby gate. Let the cat explore the dog at her own leisure and don’t hold or restrain her. She needs an escape route if things go south. Tolerance may take years to build or it may be instantaneous. In any case, make sure Kitty has her own space to sleep and eat and keep her litter box away from the dog.

Dog on Dog

Dogs need time to figure out which is the dominate canine, and once that’s has been decided, you should follow the hierarchy. The lead dog always needs to be the first to eat, the first to go outside, etc. Treating the dogs as equal will upset the social order and cause strife. Make all dogs work for treats.

If things get hostile, don’t try to break things up with your arm or your body. Try to have a broom on hand, just in case. Keep initial introductions short, 5 – 10 minutes to start. Don’t punish animals for bad behavior; instead separate them as soon as possible. And most of all, be patient. It can take time for your pets to bond. If you give them time and put in the work, you can create harmony between all your pets.


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