How to introduce stray cat to dog and resident cat?

by Ryan

I have a little bit of a complicated situation here. In my household I have a 3-year-old female cat we got from the shelter when she was two months old. We also have a 10-year-old golden retriever female. These two get along fine.

I've been treating a female cat outside for about 1 1/2 years now. She sleeps in front of our house. She eats from her own separate food and water bowl, and she is very gentle and loving towards me.

I have been wanting to get her inside for a while, as it is very cold and I hear her getting attacked by other cats at night, but she doesn't seem to want in.

My house cat and the outside cat don't get along, but don't fight. They will see each other outside and stay away from each other. If one comes too close, they just swat the other away and that's that.

Now on to my dog. My dog is very friendly and curious about this cat, but the outside cat is absolutely terrified of my dog.

My dog will sit still wagging her tale in curiosity, but as soon as the cat sees my dog she runs. Is there any way I can introduce my animals and the outside cat in a way they can get comfortable with each other?

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Thoughts on introductions
by: Kurt (Admin)

Thank you for trying to help this kitty. If you want to bring the outside cat in, there is a process you can follow so that the transition and introductions go more smoothly.

Some cats that have been outside, however, don't adjust well to being inside. Some don't adjust well to other animals. A lot depends on the cat in these situations.

You have to be prepared for that, and it's impossible to know ahead of time how a cat will react. The cat always sets the pace, but you can help by following the right process.

If she doesn't do well once inside, or can't adjust to getting along well with your dog or cat, you could build or buy an outdoor shelter so she can get some relief from the elements. The problem there is other cats may want to use it, so that has its own potential problems.

I've outlined how to introduce two cats here.

Here's an article from Amercian Humane on how to introduce a dog to a cat.

I won't repeat all that here, but here are some thoughts before you go and read those:

One of the key things to do when bringing a new cat into any home, even when there are no existing animals, is to give the cat a "safe room" to live in for the time being.

Once the cat gets settle in the safe room, introductions to resident animals are done by smell only at first. You can set up the safe room, then place your dog and cat in another room and close the door. Bring the stray cat in and get her set up in the safe room, then let your dog and cat out of the room they're in.

This will prevent an accidental meeting that could throw the whole thing off.

One of the key things when introducing a dog to a cat is to make sure the dog is restrained (leashed introductions). The body language and methods of approach between dogs and cats is different, and it can take a cat some time to learn the dog is not a threat.

They don't speak the same language at all. Friendly dogs are often very forward and direct, and can be noisy. This tends to frightens cats. Cats tend to prefer a less direct, quiet, and more cautious approach.

When a cat swishes its tail, it means something very different from when a dog wags its tail. If the dog is wagging its tail in friendly excitement while approaching directly, this may confuse and scare the cat.

If the dog tries to get in the cat's face, or leaps at her, the cat probably isn't going to like that one bit.

When in doubt, always remember to take baby steps, give the cat a safe place to retreat to, and back things up if things don't go well at first.

Good luck! Please let us know how it goes.

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