1. Choose the proper location for the first meeting
Resident cat to new dog: If you are adopting a dog, you should NOT take your cat to meet him at a shelter, or other establishment which houses a number of animals for health and safety reasons. Instead, the introduction should take place at home.
Resident dog to new cat: If you are adopting a cat, do NOT take your dog into a shelter and expose him to the cats, as this can be highly stressful or traumatic for all of the cats. Also, it is not necessarily a good indicator of how the dog will react at home. Instead, ask the shelter’s adoption counselors whether they have any dog-savvy, confident cats they will allow to meet your dog under controlled conditions. If this is not possible, an alternative would be to have your dog meet a dog-savvy cat who belongs to a friend or relative. As a last resort, you can bring your new kitty home and do an introduction at home.
2. Separate the animals
Across a few days, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each animal plenty of time to investigate the other one’s scent.
Sometimes the dog should be confined to a crate or another room (or taken to another location if he can’t be left alone) to allow the cat time to roam free and investigate the smell of the dog.
If the dog obsessively digs at the separation barrier or barks at the cat for more than a day or two, the interaction likely won’t work without proper training. You may need the help of a professional.
When no one is home, the dog or cat must always be securely confined so unsupervised interactions are not possible.
Once the dog is calm (or at least not obsessed with the cat) and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally, you can proceed to the next step.
3. Make leashed introductions
Allow both animals to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog securely leashed. Continue with this type of introduction until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally.
If there is any fear or aggression displayed on either animal’s part, stay at step 2 longer. Continue indefinitely until both the dog and cat seem happy and relaxed around each other. When no one is home, the dog or cat should be securely confined to separate areas so unsupervised interactions are not possible.
4. Allow unsupervised interactions
Unsupervised time together can occur after the cat and dog have been supervised around each other for a significant period of time (a month or so) and you are positive they will not hurt each other.