You have finally found the dog that speaks to your heart at a reputable adoption organization like Sophie’s Circle in Ormond Beach, Florida. But, you have a few reservations about how your cat may take the news of sharing his or her digs with this excited furry friend. Don’t worry. We have a few tips that show how dogs and cats can and often become the best of friends.

Has Your Cat Met a Dog Before?
If the answer is no, a trial run visit with a friend’s calm dog that is known to exist in harmony with cats may be in order. Just be sure to keep the dog on a leash and have a safe space ready for both animals in case this meet and greet turns into a less fun encounter.

If your cat has met with dogs before, how did he or she react? Was it a friendly visit or did it cause lots of chaos and tension? For those who exhibited signs of distress, how many dog encounters has your cat experienced? Was anxiety or fear part of all of the meet and greets or just one or two?

These questions can help you determine if your cat might be open to entertaining another animal, especially one of the canine variety, in your home.

Pay Attention to the Foster Family’s Notes on Behavior
Assuming you believe your cat will be comfortable with a dog in the home, finding the right match for the cat’s personality is important. Even the most laid-back cat can become territorial or frustrated with an animal who displays a different level of energy, prefers a different style of play, or simply lacks the degree of patience needed to be swatted or rubbed against repeatedly without snapping. Here is where a dog who has been under the care of a loving foster family can help you select the right dog for your cat’s energy, personality, and overall preferences for a companion.

At Sophie’s Circle, for example, we are thankful to have so many wonderful foster parents caring for our rescues. These awesome volunteers spend many hours training, testing, and cuddling each dog to see what behavioral concerns might pop up should he or she be adopted. One example includes introducing the dog to other animals whenever possible. Then, the foster family will make notes about their observations during the animal encounters in the dog’s profile thereby allowing those searching for a dog that gets along with cats to easily find their new canine friend.

Test the Relationship Slowly at Home
Now that you have found the dog you want to introduce to your cat, it’s time to recall your cat’s first days in your home and how you worked slowly to show different sections of your home to your cat. Typically, you start with a small space or room where the cat can explore freely yet with limited space to roam and a handy litterbox. After a time, you let your cat explore more and more of your home taking care not to overwhelm him or her with too much at once.

The same general rules apply to introducing a new pet. Start off in a small space with your dog lying down in a calm and controlled manner while on leash with you sitting on the floor with him or her. Stay there giving attention to both animals equally until you feel the introduction has gone well and they are comfortable enough for you to leave the room. Be sure there is a dog bed on the floor for your dog to curl up and let your cat take his or her time getting to know this new intriguing creature in the space.

Planning to adopt a high-energy dog?
A long walk or run may be helpful in allowing the dog to settle down before entering the home as well as each day afterward. Remember, all dogs need plenty of exercise, positive training, fresh food and water, and loads of praise daily. Speaking of food and positive training, treats are also useful in keeping your new dog focused on you and not on the amusing cat skirting around the perimeter.

Ready to find your cat’s canine buddy?
By adopting from Sophie’s Circle, you will be doing more than saving your rescue. We are the only dog food pantry in our area, and, while we use adoption fees to help our dogs stay healthy and adoption-ready, we use additional donations to fund our dog food supply for families with dogs who are currently in need of financial assistance. If you are ready to find your furry best friend, browse our adoption list on our website and check back periodically until you find a match that works best for your family, including your four-legged members.