Introducing a new furry friend into your family can be an exciting but worrying time - especially if you're having cats and dogs meet for the first time! We recently chatted with the wonderful Anna (@panamapaws on Instagram) all about how she introduced her dog, Io, to her two cats Janosch and Henry. She shared some top tips and advice on how to safely introduce your cats and dogs to one another. Here is what she had to say;
Hi, my name is Anna. I‘m a graphic designer and live with my dog and two cats in beautiful Vienna, Austria. My dog io is my best friend in the world, he goes where I go. Two years ago he lost one of his legs due to a bad knee but that hasn’t slowed us down. The two cats are Janosch and Henry. Janosch is the charmer, whenever people visit me he‘s the first to greet them and he‘ll sit on your lap within 5 minutes of you sitting down. Henry only moved in at the beginning of the year but it feels like he’s always been part of the family. He was my late grandma‘s cat so there is a special bond.
Io and Janosch wear our Dakar print
Did you have your cat or your dog first? When did you make the decision to add another pet to your life?
My dog was first. I’ve always been more of a cat person but my housemate back in the day wouldn’t hear of a cat moving in so I ended up with a dog. Adopting io is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
I always knew I eventually wanted a second pet and my mum happens to breed silver tabby cats. One year I fell in love with a little kitten but I wasn’t quite ready to commit. As soon as he found another home regret set in. So the next year when the chance came around again I went to visit my mum and that’s when Janosch picked us. I was quite set on having a female cat but Janosch kept breaking out of his enclosure to come play with io. He’s the bravest kitten I’ve ever met. He was completely fearless and utterly smitten by io from the start.
What were your main concerns when introducing them to one another?
io was already used to my mum’s cats so I wasn’t too worried. Most kittens react fearful when they meet their first dog but Janosch climbed over the wall of his enclosure, ran towards io at top speed and just belly flopped right in front of him. io then promptly started licking Janosch’s ears and I just knew those two were meant to be.
Janosch and Henry wear our Over the Rainbow and Wizard of Dog prints
Did you receive any good advice you'd like to share?
Go slowly and cats always eat first.
When I first introduced io to my mum’s cats we kept them completely separate. They could smell each other through the door but that was it. We went in stages from there, io would be allowed to walk past the cats on his leash, then they were allowed in the same room but with io still leashed.
Also it’s usually the cats you have to watch out for. They know how to use their claws and they’re fast!
How did their first meeting go?
io and Janosch was this magical moment, love at first sight. However when Henry moved in earlier this year I was a bit nervous, he was already an adult and another boy. io had already met him briefly before so I knew he was ok with him but Janosch hadn’t been around cats since he was a kitten and never a tomcat. I wasn’t really worried about Janosch though because he is such a social cat and he loves all my friends’ dogs. I thought perhaps io might be a bit funny about having someone new in his territory. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as I opened Henry’s carrier, io ran over and gave him a little kiss on the head. Janosch however was utterly horrified and didn’t come down from his cat tree for an entire two days and nights. His tail grew to three times the size and I heard him hiss for the first time ever.
Io and Janosch wear our Over the Rainbow print
What is the relationship like now between your cat & dog?
Janosch and io had a bit of an uneven relationship. Janosch loved io from the start and always tried to be close to io who wasn’t really keen at all. For a dog he’s quite aloof and he definitely didn’t feel the need for a cat best friend. Along came Henry and he really turned out to be the missing link. Janosch grew to love his new brother quite quickly and those two are the best of friends now. They are thick as thieves and one is never without the other. io liked Henry from the start and I regularly come home and find those two laying in bed together. Henry also helped io and Janosch because Janosch’s attentions have been diverted from io and they’re both happier for it.
What would be your top 3 tips for introducing a cat & dog to one another?
1. Take your time
2. Swap their beds, it gets them used to each other’s scent
3. Have a shared ritual. For us it’s bedtime snacks. When I go to bed everyone gets a goodnight treat. That little ritual really taught them that they’re all part of one family
Anything else you'd like to share?
Forget Team Cat or Team Dog. Having both is utterly brilliant and I wouldn’t want to miss having either a cat or dog in my life