The first meeting of two animals is a very important thing. If on this stage a mistake occurred it will be very hard to correct it in future. If you want to eliminate excessive negative feelings of pets towards each other during their first contact you need to calm down them at first. A dog must see a cat in the owner’s hands, and a cat needs to see a dog when the owner pats it. If a cat enters the household with preexisting dog you better do the following: enter your home holding a cat, pat it to calm down and next pat your dog – repeat these actions several times. It would be optimal if one of the owners will keep the dog leashed and the person with the cat will wear clothes with long sleeves in case the cat scares and puts out its claws. If a dog enters the home with preexisting cat you should do all the above mentioned procedures, only this time a cat will be at home in owners hands and a dog will be entering on a leash.
Such positioning – a cat in hands – helps pets to understand that a cat is placed higher than a dog in pack hierarchy. However, a dog won’t be happy to accept it and this process will take some time.
You might wonder why a cat has to be “the boss”. If your dog sees your cat on a lower place in the pack order, than your dog will start bothering your cat taking away its food and trying to “train” the cat. This might not be so critical when you have a toy dog, when positions change and cat might start “training” a toy dog. Another important moment concerns psychological differences of these species of animals. A dog is not prone to offend members of its pack that are placed upper than it, and will defend them instead. However, a cat can show aggression if another pet will try to dictate its rules. But when a cat sees itself as a pack leader it will be able to cooperate with other pack members and will defend them. The above-mentioned works in all cases: when pets play, meet strange animals or feel threat from a human. For example, my two cats and dog always meet guests together and are equally friendly to them (if this is a friend, or someone they know), or equally hostile hissing and grinning at them (if this is a strange person).
To avoid conflicts it is better to feed your pets separately during first two-three days. When they got used to each other’s odour at home you can start joint feeding that will also help to form pack hierarchy. Before the feeding of your pets you need to eat something yourself. The thing is that according the animal rules the pack leader eats first, than older members of the pack, and last are the youngest. Even if you are not hungry you can have a peace of an apple or meat just to show your privileged place in the hierarchy. In this situation it is the fact of eating that matters not the amount of food. After you had a bite you can start feeding your pets.