Second Chance: Dog Meets Cat, Protocol

Second Chance: Dog Meets Cat, Protocol

Dear Pet Column,

I have a mellow medium-sized dog who has never interacted with cats. I decided that I am ready to adopt a cat and wondering what is the best and safest way to bring a new feline pet into my home?


Cautious Cat Adopter


Gorgeous Lucille


Dear Cautious,

I am so glad you wrote as it is critical that cat-dog introductions be done properly for the safety of all involved. It is also important for a successful outcome that allows your adopted cat to adjust to its new environment and family. Most dogs do well sharing their home with felines, however, some do not, so it is important to determine which side of the fence your dog digs.

So, let us first proceed with caution.

When making the initial introduction, you will need two people, one to hold and watch the dog on a leash; the other to hold and watch the cat in a crate or at a good distance from the dog. If you have more than one dog, introduce the cat separately to each.

Next, hold the dog on a loose lead and observe its body language, allowing the cat to wander freely if it does not appear aggressive toward the dog. Ask the dog to sit or lay down and praise or reward him/her for ignoring the cat. If the dog becomes intensely focused, takes on a stiff body posture, barks, whines, or lunges, do not yet allow the dog near the cat. Otherwise continue with the praise while slowly and calmly allowing the dog and cat to meet.

If the dog is overly interested in the cat, put the cat in a separate room with a barrier preventing the dog access, but allowing visibility.  Work with the dog to distract its attention from the cat – allowing short periods of viewing throughout the day until the dog appears to lose interest. Depending upon the dog, this process may take hours to days. Be patient. Do not rush the introduction as it could go irreversibly wrong.

Make certain you fully trust your dog’s behavior around the cat before ever leaving them alone together. Another consideration is to enroll your pup in Second Chance’s dog behavioral classes to garner additional support and advice for happy extended furry family making.

My last suggestion is to come to Second Chance to adopt a cool cat like me who is very outgoing and active. I will adjust to your dog much easier than a nervous cat would. My name is Gorgeous Lucille, I am only one-year-old and do well with other cats as well. I also enjoy purring, napping, and a good game of “where’s the catnip?”

Now let me introduce the Second Chance Dog of the Week – Hunter.



Remember the story of the 24 dogs that Second Chance saved from a hoarding situation in September? Well Hunter is the only one who has not been adopted. He had to have surgery to heal an untreated leg injury from his prior situation, but is healing great and ready for his first real home.  Hunter is about two years young, shy at first (as to be expected), but loving with people and other dogs. He has quickly learned to walk well on a leash and the Second Chance staff is so very proud of him.


Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

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