Plan a proper introduction as first impressions count!
Allow your pets to meet face-to-face in a controlled environment, and for a brief period of time only. Keep your dog on a leash and the cat in a carrier, especially if it’s a kitten. Be calm, patient and reassuring to both, while remembering that cats will hiss and dogs will bark! If they’re curious about each other, it’s a good sign…
Alternatively, delay a face-to-face introduction for 3 to 4 days. Many experts prefer this approach as it allows the animals to get used to each other’s sound and scent before actually meeting.
Either way, you’ll need to ensure that the cat has a safe, secure room to retreat to and that it’s food, water and litter box are nowhere near the dog. Cat perches and high shelves are helpful “escape” spaces for felines too.
Experts also suggest feeding your animals on opposite sides of a closed door for several days so that they start to associate the other one’s presence with something pleasant like food. Gradually move their bowls closer to the door until they’re able to eat calmly in close proximity. You can also increase their familiarity with one another by swapping the blankets on their beds.
Once progress has been made, you can bring the pets together for short periods of time on “neutral” ground and with the dog still on a leash. Keep in mind that this is a process and will need to be repeated regularly. Your patience is key! Eventually, they will be comfortable in each other’s company – though it’s still advisable to separate them when you’re not around to supervise.