Where Did the Love Go?

A move into a new house has broken the bond between a cat and a dog. Can they be friends again?

Q. I have a quick question about my cat and dog. I’ve had my dog for about a year and a half. About a year ago I brought home a kitten. The two animals seemed to hit it off well. They played together, slept together and seemed to be good buddies.

We recently moved and had to leave the dog at my mothers house for a couple weeks, since we didn’t have a fenced yard. She’s an indoor-outdoor dog … indoors when we’re home, out when we’re not. Because the cat is strictly indoor only, she came home with us as soon as we moved in. Immediately after we brought the dog home the cat acted like they never met before and the hissing began. I’d really like them to start getting along once again, but I’m not sure what to do. Prior to our move the dog was an indoor only pet, and its been suggested to us that since she stayed outside while at my mom’s house, perhaps the dog smells different to the cat and now the cat appears to not recognize the dog. What can I do to get these two animals to resume their friendship?

A. While there is no guarantee that they will ever be buddies again, remember that they have only been reintroduced for a very short time and these things can take quite a bit of time. Also, in the first introduction, the cat was brought into the dogs territory and this time the cat had a couple of weeks to establish the new home as his, so now the dog is invading his territory.

I would treat this like a new introduction. Separate the two animals into specific areas of your home and let them re-establish territories within the house. Then let them visit each others territories, making sure that the resident is not there during the visitations. Let them sniff each other under doors, so they know the other is in this room. Then start feeding them in the same room, preferably in separate cages or contained areas under close supervision. It will probably take several weeks of slowly reintroducing them to each another.

All interactions between the cat and dog should be supervised. Eventually they should learn to tolerate one another, and in the best-case scenario, they will rekindle their old bonds.

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Behavior and Training · Cats