Having a family full of furry friends can be fun and mean many cuddles, love, and walks. When you want to introduce more than one species into the mix, things can be more complicated, mainly when introducing a kitten to a dog.
Dogs are wonderful pets, but they tend to have more energy than cats overall. Since they are usually also larger, they can hurt your kitten even without meaning to do so. There may even be times when they do want to hurt the cat due to the hunting instincts ingrained into their genetics.
If your dog has minimal experience with cats, then you need ways to introduce a kitten into the home safely. Is there a peaceful way to introduce the new member of your household to a hyper dog? Yes!
What You Need to Know
Here, we have three processes that you can use if you find yourself in this situation. Unless your dog is already respectful of your cat, don’t expect this to reap immediate results. Have patience with both animals, but particularly your hyper dog. You have to change how they view such a small creature and how your kitten views a big, scary dog.
Overall, what you want to do is teach your dog how to act around your kitten and make your kitten feel comfortable having them around.
You need your dog to understand that it is not good for them to rush at the kitten or paw or mouth it. Instead, they should give the kitten space and remain calm.
If your dog does these things, it will scare the kitten and cause them to run or scratch your dog. Neither encourages a positive relationship.
If you have time before you adopt your kitten, work on training your dog to obey specific, helpful commands. It is easier for them when they know what you expect from them in a situation. Issuing commands is an excellent way to tell them what you want.
If you don’t have time — for example, if you rescued the kitten — you should separate them until you can safely introduce them. Allow them to get used to the smell and sounds of the other creature without coming into contact with them.
Once you are ready to start using the process, prepare the situation to keep all parties safe throughout. Read each of these methods, and choose the best one for you and your household. You might need to use more than one if you aren’t seeing headway after a week or two.
Methods to Introduce a Hyper Dog to a Kitten
1. Decreasing Space Method
Separate the animals by keeping the kitten in their room for several days. Equip it with everything that they need, like a litter box and food. This step allows the kitten to get used to the home’s smells, sounds, and sights without the added stress of a bouncy dog.
Let your dog near the door of the kitten’s room. Allow them to smell under the door or see through a crack. Don’t let them scratch at the door or bark. The dog needs to stay calm, or you will take them away from the door.
Allow visual contact. Put up a baby gate in the doorway, and open the door. The dog and kitten should be able to see each other. Don’t let the kitten climb over the gate or your dog bark at the kitten. Always supervise closely at this step.
Reward calm behavior whenever your dog is close to the cat. Only let them close to the barrier after they have been exercised and when the area in the home isn’t tense or stressful.
After at least a week using the barrier, observe how the kitten and dog react to each other. If they seem relatively comfortable or calm, allow the animals into the same room. Supervise them carefully. If you are still concerned about your dog’s behavior at this stage, keep them on a loose leash. The kitten should be the one to approach your dog, while you pet your pup to keep them calm.
2. Controlled, Quick Introductions
Perhaps you don’t have the space in your home to effectively keep your kitten separated from your dog for a couple of weeks. This method works best if your dog is trained with commands like “stay” and “leave it.”
Prepare by ensuring that your kitten has an escape route if your dog decides to approach them in a scary way. This could be a cat tree or a room with a barrier that they can climb over. Put your dog on a leash to have more control over the situation.
Keep your dog still by keeping them in that “stay” position. Allow the kitten to explore farther, and don’t let the dog rush over to them.
Reward your dog with pets and praise for maintaining their “down” position around the kitten. Keep this introduction short, so your dog doesn’t become too worked up.
Remove the kitten, and only reintroduce them when you have complete control over your dog.
Steadily increase the time that the animals are around each other, all while controlling your dog with a leash. You want the dog to associate the kitten’s presence with positivity, so give them treats throughout the process.
As your dog maintains more and more calm behavior around the cat, let them off the leash. Always maintain an escape route for your kitten until they are comfortable with each other.
3. Crate Introduction Method
What if you don’t have a room that your kitten can stay in or a baby gate to limit exposure? Use this method instead.
Ensure that your dog is tied securely to a place that won’t let them move too much and knock into the crate.
Place your kitten in the crate and close the door. Allow them to sniff each other through the bars as long as your dog stays calm. If they don’t stay calm, remove the crate from the dog’s vicinity until they can calm down.
Repeat the process until they seem to feel more comfortable around each other.
Keep the dog on the leash, but let the kitten out of the crate. Observe their interactions to ensure that the dog won’t lunge at the cat and grab them.
Once your dog stays calm even when the kitten is wandering around them, you can let them both free. Observe their first interactions together carefully for the first couple of weeks.
We want to reiterate that all these processes can take a week or two of steady introductions. You want to ensure your kitten’s safety. These interactions will also influence your dog’s attitude toward cats for a long time. It is up to you to keep them calm and to have plenty of patience. In the end, you will have a comfortable house of fuzzies, and it will have been worth it.
An American expat living in Metro Manila, Philippines for over a decade, Christian is a lifelong cat lover and the proud papa of two rescue cats, Trixie and Chloe. Both girls were formerly among the droves of strays that roam the cities and countryside. Three-year-old Trixie was pulled from a litter found under the porch of a neighbor’s house, while two-year-old Chloe was brought home by Christian’s young son, Henry, who found the kitten crying in the parking lot. As Editor in Chief of ExcitedCats.com, Christian is thrilled to be a part of the pro-feline movement.