Do older cats and puppies get along?

New puppies are an exciting addition to any household.

But if one of your family members happens to be an older cat then there are a few things you need to consider.

First of all, despite what you may have heard or read, cats and dogs can get along. In fact, not only can they co-exist in the same environment, it’s actually not unusual for them to become friends.

What needs to be taken into account with older cats is that by the time they have reached their senior years they will very much have become creatures of habit.

Introducing a new pet to the fold can upset a feline’s carefully structured routine, potentially causing stress, anxiety and even illness.

This doesn’t mean your new puppy and older cat won’t get along, but it does mean it may take a little time.

To ensure the introduction goes as smoothly as possible, Reveal has put together a few tips for pet parents on how to carry out a “safe” introduction.

Remember, every situation is different and you should always assess each pet’s reactions before allowing them to spend time together unsupervised.

How to introduce your older cat to a puppy in the home

  1. Don't let your puppy take chase. Chasing comes instinctively to dogs. It isn't necessarily an act of aggression – more playful, puppy over exuberance – but for older, vulnerable cats it can feel highly threatening. If you notice your pup staring in the direction of a cat, redirect their attention immediately. Instruct them to ‘come away’ or ‘leave it’. If they do begin giving chase, tell them 'no' and gently intervene, moving them to the other side of the room, or another room entirely.
  2. Rushing the process is a big no-no! Patience is everything when introducing a puppy to an older cat. This can be an extremely stressful time for both pets – as well as for pet parents – and rushing introductions will often only add to the stress. Take your time. It may take a week, it may even take a few weeks, for them to become comfortable with each other, but letting them go at their own pace is always the best course of action.
  3. Keep interactions short and sweet. There may be a temptation to try and force a friendship, to place them together straightaway in the hope they hit it off instantly. As we have said, patience is key during the introduction process. Keep meetings short and regular to begin with. Never force them to spend time together, and ensure your cat has an easy route back to their safe space, just in case things get a little too much. Putting a lead on your pup, and placing them behind a safety gate is a good way of allowing your cat to familiarize themselves with their new housemate, in their own time.
  4. Scent swapping. Smell is an extremely important form of communication for both cats and dogs. So much so that exchanging scents can actually help put both pets at ease with one another before they even meet. Start by giving them blankets or toys with the other’s scent. This way your cat can become familiar with your dog, and vice versa. This will hopefully make those first introductions far more straightforward.
  5. Always be on the lookout for aggressive behavior. Even after a few peaceful interactions, there’s always the chance of a fallout. It can happen in a split second and result in one or both pets receiving serious injuries. The moment you hear growling or hissing, or one of the pets moves towards the other in an aggressive manner, separate them immediately. Only once your animals are totally accustomed to one another should you ever leave them alone together. This could take weeks, even two to three months.
  6. Make sure your cat feels safe. Our cats need to feel safe. And as pet parents it’s our responsibility to make them feel this way. A new pet in the house can cause felines great distress, so do everything you can to make your home their sanctuary. Make sure they have high resting places they can retreat to, and don’t place your new pup’s food or water bowl near to your cat’s. Also, ensure your cat’s litter box is somewhere safe, away from any other pets or noise.
  7. Reward good behavior. Some people are inclined to shout at or punish a pup if they begin chasing a cat. While there’s nothing wrong with a firm ‘no’, positive reinforcement is a far more effective way of helping improve a pet’s behavior, rather than constantly berating them. If your pup listens when you tell them to move away from the cat, or to stop giving chase, reward them with praise or a treat. Do the same when they are acting in a calm manner around your feline as well. Over time this will reinforce positive behavior, and should hopefully see your pup quickly take to his or her new housemate.

Ensure your elderly cat maintains a healthy diet

Feeding your cat the right diet is vital if they are to remain fit, strong and healthy.

A big part of this is understanding how their nutritional needs evolve as they grow older.

Senior cats need to be fed a high-quality diet with a careful balance of nutrients. They require less calories than growing kittens, but a similar amount of calories to adult cats.

One meal a day should suffice, but if you do find they are being overwhelmed by a larger solitary serving, it’s absolutely fine to split meals into smaller portions and serve throughout the day.

Senior cats will be able to eat many of the same foods they have eaten throughout their life. However, if they have, or are developing dental problems, wet foods tend to be a good idea.

Reveal’s limited ingredient cat food is packed with delicious and responsibly sourced muscle-building protein, a critical nutrient that older cats need in order to thrive.

Recipes like our Chicken Breast with Duck in Broth Pot, Tuna Fillet with Seabream in Broth Can and Tuna Fillet in Gravy Can are all protein rich, and dripping in mouth-watering flavor.

Pet parents should also try to avoid foods with artificial preservatives that could potentially trigger digestive problems in senior cats.

If you’d like to read more on senior cats and their diet, read our blog – Dietary Advice For Senior Cats: What You Need To Know

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