Before a new dog meets the resident cat

Adding a new dog to your household can be stressful to your current cat. You can ease the introduction process, however, with a little advance preparation.

1. Make sure the cat can escape if she needs to.
Cats are more likely to be hurt by dogs than vice versa, so make sure your cat has spots throughout the house–cleared-off countertops and shelves, kitty condos, and so on — to leap out of harm’s way.

You’ll also want to create areas where the cat can get a good distance away from the dog. You can block off rooms with baby gates, so long as your dog can’t jump over them, or install cat doors that will let your cat escape outside or into another room.

Before you bring your new dog home, get your kitty acquainted with these escape routes and hiding places in advance. Lure her through the cat door, over a gate, or onto a safety perch with a food treat.

2. Set up the cat’s belongings where the dog can’t get to them.
Move the cat’s food, water, toys, and litter box to an area the dog can’t reach. The idea is to allow the cat to do whatever she needs to do without having to go near the dog; that way, she can explore the new pooch and his territory at her own speed.

Do any rearranging of your kitty’s set-up a few weeks before you bring a new dog home, so she has time to get used to it. A new member of the household will be taxing enough for your cat, and having all her things moved at the same time will make it that much harder.