You love, love, love cats. You’ve wanted your own ever since you went off to college and realized that you couldn’t take you family’s fluffy feline with you. Now, you’re ready to move into your own apartment and adopt a cat of your very own. But in the midst of your excitement, you realize that there’s just one problem:

Your roommate-to-be is an incurable canine fanatic, and she’s already made plans to bring a sweet-faced golden retriever into your home. Suddenly, all of your plans to care for a kitty seem to fall apart. Everyone knows that dogs and cats can’t get along….right?

Wrong.

Much like people, cats and dogs have the preferences. Some laid-back cats can’t stand to be in the same room as an excited dog; similarly, some dogs view cats as threats to chase. An elderly cat, for example, should never live with with an overly-energetic puppy. A bad pairing can be stressful and risky for everyone in the home – including you! However, our furry friends can also get along just fine. With the right pairing and enough time, you might even find your dog and cat cuddling on day!

If you want to bring a dog into a cat’s home (or vice versa) you should go through the proper steps to ensure that your pets have compatible personalities and temperaments before introducing them. Check out the list below for some guidelines!

How to Introduce Your Pets

Test Compatibility

Never, ever take your pet to the shelter for an introduction. An adoption site is chock-full of unfamiliar smells and frightening sounds that can negatively impact how your dog or cat will react upon meeting their potential housemate. Needless to say, it won’t be an accurate litmus test for how the two will behave in the home. If you want to introduce an established cat to a new dog, do the introduction in the home. If you plan to bring a new cat to meet an established dog, try bringing the dog to meet a friend’s dog-savvy cat beforehand so you can gauge their approach towards cats. If that goes well, you can try bringing the cat to your home for an introduction.

Keep an eye out! If a dog stays fixated on the cat, barks constantly, jerks, or otherwise shows aggression towards a quiet and calm cat, it may not be compatible with cats at all. You can try swapping out potential adoptees to find a good fit – but at the end of the day, some cats and dogs just aren’t cut out for a non-human housemate.

Keep Pets Separate

Between the smells, the sounds, and sights, there’s a lot to get used to in a new home. Keep your dog confined to allow a new cat the opportunity to explore the space and become accustomed to the dog’s scent. You can swap out the pet in confinement to allow both a chance to adjust. Always keep the pets confined separately while you’re out of the house; this will help you avoid potentially dangerous unsupervised interactions. If both pets seem calm and are eating, sleeping, using litter box normally, you can proceed to in-person introductions.

Make Cautious Introductions

Getting a cat and a dog used to one another may take some time. Keep your dog safely leashed in the same room as cat until all signs of fear or aggression have faded and it seems as though both are comfortable. During the first few days and weeks, you should continue confining the two in separate areas while you are out to prevent unsupervised interactions. After a month or so, you should be able to allow your pets to roam freely and enjoy the other’s company without supervision.