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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