Cat Hissing And Swatting At New Puppy… What Should I Do?

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There are not many better feelings in the world than bringing home a new puppy.

We sure were ecstatic when we had the opportunity to adopt Olliver in July of 2020, and have only had the most unforgettable experiences in the year since.

There’s no denying it- adopting a puppy is awesome! However, introducing a puppy to your household with an existing feline can be challenging. A resident cat will often show aggression towards a new puppy.

When introducing a new puppy into your home, you need to remember that your cat is used to being the only pet. It will need time to adjust to its new housemate, and at times can be extremely territorial.

It’s not unusual at all to find the cat hissing and swatting at the new puppy from time to time! Rather than punishing your cat, it’s important to teach it to become more accepting of the new member of the family.

This is important not only for improving overall ongoing international canine-feline diplomatic relations, but also to minimize the chance that your puppy is injured by your cat. A cat has five weapons on it at all times after all- and they sure aren’t afraid to use them!

While the two animals may not turn into best friends immediately (or ever), a slow and gentle introduction can help them to live in harmony eventually.

Why Is My Cat Swatting At My Dog?

Black cat and white puppy

It is possible for a cat and dog to coexist peacefully- you’ve seen as much evidence on the internet and TV shows!

So why then is the cat swatting at the dog for no apparent reason?

There are many potential factors as to why your cat may feel inclined to whack at the dog randomly. The most common of these can include feeling threatened or insecure, fighting for attention and status, and even underlying medical issues.

Sometimes the conflict between cat and dog can result from simple misunderstanding. For instance, a dog will often raise his paw with an intention to play. However, the cat may interpret this as a sign of attack instead, and respond in kind with a well-aimed slap!

Your puppy may also commit animal social faux-pas while not knowing any better. For example, it may stare directly into your cat’s eyes, which any experienced cat will take as a sign that the new puppy is laying down a dominance challenge.

Voila, *swat*!

Even a normally calm cat will swat a dog if they feel the latter is invading their space.

Keeping in mind the above, there are a few other potential reasons that can induce a cat to hit out at a new puppy even if it’s done nothing wrong:

Fear

Cats can be very skittish animals, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they can feel threatened easily. Even if your dog is just walking past, any sudden movement can fill a feline with fear and cause it to strike out at the puppy with a sharp bop on the snout.

Status-Related Aggression

Beige cat with golden crown
“Kneel before your Queen!”

Due to status and dominance-related reasons, your cat may feel the need to be in constant control over her subjects *ahem* housemates. Cats’ social structures have been described by some vets as a “despotic hierarchy”, whereby one cat assumes control over all others.

When you introduce a new puppy into your home, the cat may feel that her control is being threatened and undermined. As a result it may become more aggressive in order to defend its pre-existing status.

Remember that your cat had all your attention previously, for better or worse. Now that your attention has been divided with an adorable new fluffball, hostility is nearly inevitable at least in the beginning.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression is simply where your new puppy bears the brunt of your cat’s anger from loosely related scenarios.

If the feline has been distracted or bothered by something else- such as a particularly annoying sound- and the dog just happens to cross its path, chances are pretty high that she will swat at him to just to assuage her own anger.

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Talk about bad luck!

Underlying Health Issues

Another serious cause of aggression in cats is underlying medical issues.

Simply being in physical or neurological pain can cause a cat to perceive the presence of another animal as an oversized threat. Out of a misplaced yet instinctual survival instinct, it may then start attacking the dog seemingly out of nowhere.

After introducing a new puppy to your household, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your cat for any initial signs of hostility.

You will also need to be aware of the signs commonly shown by a distressed, angered, or jealous cat so that you can stop it in its tracks if need be and prevent injury and harm. These signs can include:

  • Hissing
  • Destruction of furniture
  • Desire for attention when in presence of puppy
  • Urinating out of the litter box
  • Defensive or offensive body language.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Get Used To A New Puppy?

miniature pinscher puppy and cat

Some people love cats, and others love dogs– and there are some still that feel incomplete without both a cat and a dog in their home!

If you already have a cat in your home and want to bring home a puppy, you’ll probably want to know just how long it will take for the cat to be (grudgingly) welcome of the new member of the family.

There are various species of dogs, and the same applies for cats- not to mention the different combinations of traits and personalities! Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes for a cat and dog to get used to each other.

Even so, according to animal expert Liz Palika, the process of familiarizing your cat and a new puppy takes about two to three weeks on average.

As with all data using averages, some pairings will get along in days while others will never fully accept one another even after introducing them to each other for months.

Personalities of both pets play an indispensable role in determining how long they will need to get acquainted. Although you may already be familiar with your feline’s traits, you will need time to understand the new puppy yourself.

This means you have to slowly and gently introduce the two animals to each other as you understand them more day-by-day. Proper introduction and integration takes significant patience and persistence!

Even then, it can be hard to tell if your animals have the potential to become BFFs from their interactions.

For example, if your puppy has a naturally high prey drive, it might be rough on the cat without knowing any better. If the cat then responds with aggression in kind, it may take months for the two animals to understand and accept each other more readily.

Will My Cat Ever Get Used To My New Puppy?

Puppy and grey tabby cat

It is a common misconception to think that dogs and cats cannot live together in harmony.

It’s true that at first there may be a difficult transition period when you first bring a new puppy into your household. From recognizing each other’s scents and tendencies to interacting, it can be hard to familiarize two pets of different species.

However, with a little creativity and effort on your part, your cat can and will get used to the new puppy. Although your cat will be stressed out initially, they will at some point accept each other and likely even become great friends!

Even if you have had cats and dogs living together before and are now introducing a new puppy to your cat, keep in mind that each situation is different. Go into each new arrangement with an open mind and don’t rush things.

To get my cat used to Olliver coming home, I carefully choreographed the two animals’ initial introductions to minimize conflict.

In the section below are a few excellent tips to help you introduce your new puppy to the cat, and to ensure they get used to each other as quickly as possible.

How To Introduce A Puppy To An Aggressive Cat: How Do I Get My Cat To Accept A New Puppy?

Angry-looking cat, paws crossed
Time to face my reckoning…. pup.

An overly hostile cat will act aggressively even when the new puppy is not interacting with her. When a resident feline is unaccepting of a new puppy, she will hiss, scratch, or even bite the poor dog baby.

So, when making the initial introductions, proceed with caution! Assess how your cat feels about dogs, then make sure both pets are ready to be introduced.

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With that said, here are tips and steps on how to introduce a new puppy to an aggressive cat and get them on cordial term with each other:

1. Create A Seperate Space For Each Pet

Has the cat been acting a bit depressed ever since it saw the arrival of a new puppy? Chances are that it won’t be too friendly towards its new housemate.

To allow both animals to properly adjust to and recognize the presence of the other, set up a safe space for each of them. Areas can be easily shut off with a baby gate or better yet, a closed door.

Since the cat was the original occupant of the house, another option is to keep your puppy in a crate or playpen that allows the cat to look in when it feels like. This will give it the freedom to check out the strange new member when it is feeling up to the task.

Regardless of which arrangement you choose, it’s a good idea not to give your puppy free range of the house at first for training and behavioral reasons!

While in their separate spaces, give them the care and attention they each deserve. Don’t forget to keep them entertained with suitable toys! Remember to spend added attention on the new puppy to help him adjust to the new environment.

2. Alternate Their Confinements

After at least two days of confinement in their respective spaces, you can alternate the locations where the animals are confined.

That way, your puppy is given a chance to explore its new home and get used to the unfamiliar surroundings.

By alternating the confinement area, you also allow the pets to become accustomed to each other’s scent, thereby allowing them to become more comfortable with each other’s presence subconsciously.

3. Exchanging Scents

As part of introducing your pets to one another, it is your responsibility to help them familiarize with each other’s scent.

When introducing a new puppy to a resident cat, I achieve this by swapping their bedding, toys, and towels. With this method, even the most aggressive cat will get used to a new puppy, and increase the likelihood that the two become best of friends.

Of course if the cat rejects the toys or bedding, don’t force it to use them! Doing that will only make it associate the scent with negative emotions- something you definitely do not want. Celebrate the little wins of progress if they are there, and if not, don’t fret it!

4. Set Up The First Meeting

Cat and leashed shiba inu

Your puppy is now accustomed to its new environment, and the two are aware of the presence of each other. Now, they can finally meet canine-to-feline for the first time!

Much like a high-stakes international peace treaty discussion, the introduction setting needs to be neutral for both pets. It is also advisable to have two people help with the introduction; one to leash the dog, while the other tends to the cat.

During the initial meeting, you will likely notice significant aggression from your cat or even the puppy. This will change if both animals feel the other is not a threat, and regard them rather as a friend or member.

The first encounter should be brief and controlled, as should subsequent meetings. Gradually increase the duration of encounters as you learn how each pet feels about the other. Make sure to give rewards for peacefulness and amicability!

If your cat is willing to simply ignore the puppy like it’s not there, that’s as a good start as you can ask for. All the same, try to ensure meetings end as positively as possible.

5. Reinforce Good Behavior

Ensuring your pets are well-mannered when around each other will help them become friends much more quickly.

Remember that reinforcing good behavior does not mean punishing your pet. If the cat acts aggressively, simply separate them till the situation deescalates.

Consistently rewarding good behavior with treats, toys, and affection encourages both pets to continue with the desired behavior. In fact, one trick I frequently use to correct hostility is to distract my pets’ attention with toys or their favorite games.

6. Continue With Leashed Interactions Until The Two Animals Get Along

With continued persistence, you will eventually learn whether the personalities of the cat and puppy are likely to mesh and become friendly.

Most of the time, cats will retract their early aggressiveness and live in harmony with the pup. Before you leave them together alone however, you do need to make sure that the puppy will behave in the presence of the cat and not chase after it in a frenzy.

While introducing a new puppy to a resident aggressive cat seems difficult, it is possible. Once you know how to introduce your pets correctly, the likelihood of your cat accepting the new puppy increases dramatically!

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Will My Cat Get Jealous Of A New Puppy?

miniature pinscher puppy and cat with valentines day decor close

When you bring a new puppy home, your cat may act uncharacteristically out of fear and jealousy. It will likely get jealous because it is not getting as much attention as it used to before the arrival. This, unsurprisingly, is completely normal.

It will also most likely develop jealousy-fueled behaviors such as aggression. When angry, it will start hissing and swatting at the new puppy.

To avoid unnecessary trouble in the home and potential injuries, you need to be aware of the signs of a jealous cat and know how to stop them so that your furry friends can live in harmony.

Following the steps in the section above on how to introduce your pets to each other properly will work wonders for your house’s cat-dog relations.

Even though you need to spend more time with your new puppy as you acquaint him with his new home, don’t make your cat feel left out and as if the dog is automatically more important! Always leave some time in the day just for you and your feline friend.

Will My Cat Hurt My Puppy?

Cats can become quite territorial and aggressive when they are met with a strange adversary in the home, such as a new puppy.

It is quite possible for an aggressive cat to (seriously) injure a puppy with its sharp teeth and claws. To make matters worse, most puppies don’t know how to defend themselves or run away and will simply shrink in fear while continuing to incur painful scratches or bites

This is why it’s so important to monitor both your puppy and cat in the early days of their interactions. Also under no circumstances should you ever leave them alone with each other in the house while you are out!

The good news is that your cat likely understands the dog is young so it may just swat at him lightly to “correct” behavior it finds unpleasant, such as overenthusiastic sniffing.

Finally, while most pet parents worry most about the cat hurting the puppy, don’t forget that puppies can inadvertently hurt cats too! Whether out of sheer size or baby-like clumsiness, it is possible for a puppy to injure their cat companion as well.

What Dog Breeds Are Not Good With Cats?

Australian cattle dog sitting on grass

When you have a cat at home, choosing the perfect dog breed to make a seamless pair can be tough. Some dog breeds with their natural traits may never get along with your cat, no matter the amount of obedience training they get.

Here are a few of the dog breeds that are notorious for not being good with cats:

  • Australian cattle dog
  • Greyhound
  • Schipperke
  • Manchester terrier
  • Beagle
  • Jack Russell terrier
  • Afghan hound
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Siberian Husky
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet

Whether it is due to their high prey drive or hyper-activeness, it seems that these canine breeds were simply not created to be around felines.

While there are exceptions to every rule, if you are planning to have both a cat and dog as pets, it may be easier just to rule these breeds out of consideration.

In Conclusion

If you find your cat hissing and swatting at the new puppy, know that this is pretty normal behavior! It’s important to recognize the profound impact a new canine family member can have on a cat that already has an established hierarchy in the home.

A cat could be acting aggressively due to fear, feeling threatened, perceived loss of status, or even unrelated, underlying medical issues.

It is much easier to induce a cat to become friendly with a new puppy if you have a solid introduction plan in place.

This includes giving each of them separate safe spaces, familiarizing each with the other’s scent, and organizing controlled meetings in the first few days or weeks.

On average, it takes about two to three weeks for new cats and dogs to become accustomed and accepting of each other. Until you reach that point, keep working at it slowly and don’t forget to be generous with the rewards and attention for both precious pets!

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