How to Introduce a Ragdoll Kitten to a Resident Dog – Reader Question


How to Introduce a Ragdoll Kitten to a Resident Dog

This post was originally posted on Oct 24, 2012 – but I would like to get more feedback on this topic – so please comment if you have experience!

Meet Buzz.

Buzz has a problem he is not aware of.  He’s about to have a roommate, of the Ragdoll kitten variety.

Recently, Kate, a Floppycats reader from Australia emailed me to ask me how to introduce her Poodle to a new Ragdoll kitten she is getting soon.  I wasn’t quite sure on what to suggest as I have not had adult experience introducing a kitten to a dog (OK I introduced my parents’ dogs to Charlie and Trigg, but my parents’ dogs are already cat trained!).

Here’s what Kate had to say, “I am also getting a Ragdoll kitten who arrives in five weeks, however we have a small poodle who becomes very excited at newcomers into our home. We recently had guests who brought their small dog with them and our poodle gets very jealous when we pet him or give the other dog attention, meaning he would try to pounce at the new dog. I was just wondering if you have any advice to introduce the kitten to our dog, who will probably want to play with the new one straight away. ”

Can you share your experience introducing your kitten to your dog?  What steps did you take?  How did they work out?  Do you have any suggestions for Kate and her Poodle?  Thanks in advance!

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Yoda, my dog, is SUPER mellow – her activity level is akin to an ottoman! On walks I noticed that she would get SUPER excited by cats. Wanting to get closer and interact but she was always very respectful of their space. When we would go to an adoption event she would stand on her hind legs to see that cats and bark like mad – bad manners.

    With my two foster cats (one an adult and one a tiny, frail, kitten), I had Yoda in the car with me when I picked each of them up and they would ride in the back seat on the way home together. I took the long way so they would have more time to get used to each other’s smells.

    Once I got home, the cat would immediately go into a huge dog crate with a litter box, food/water dishes and a bed. This allowed them both to smell, see and get used to each other but in a safe place. I could not do a “safe room” as my house is tiny. Hercules, the adult, was tense (no hissing or anything on that level but wide eyed and watching intently) when Yoda would first approach the crate so I would make her get away and leave him alone. After a bit he stopped reacting and eventually would reach through the crate to touch her (no batting just kind of exploring).

    On both occasions Yoda was very curious but quiet and would end up sleeping right against the crate. Neither the adult or the kitten had much of a reaction to her. I let Hercules out to explore after he was settled in a bit and kept Yoda away from him. He came over and smelled her on his own and once he walked away I let her go. She definitely followed him around but if she got too close he let her know and she quickly learned his boundaries.

    With the kitten she had no reaction to Yoda – they got in each other’s faces (in a good way) and snuggled right out of the gate.

    When I got Prossimo, I didn’t know I was getting him so the car ride home wasn’t an option. I did the same crate thing but noticed the Prossimo was not reacting to Yoda at all while he was in the crate. I let him out pretty quickly and he, like the foster kitten, did not have any issue with Yoda right from the very beginning. He does hump her now and tries his best to beat her up but that’s gotten SO MUCH better in the last 30 days with the Feliway diffuser.

    Good Luck!

  2. Janet Knowlton says:

    Well I have two Labs and two kittens. I had a very easy time introducing the kittens to the two Labs. It took less than a week. I have always had dogs and cats and they have always gotten along very well. I kept them apart for a couple of days and let the dogs see the kittens and smell them. The dogs were more afraid of the kittens believe it or not than the kittens afraid of the dogs! Nothing fazes these cats. They are like dogs themselves. Since Labs generally are very easy going and friendly I do agree that you may have to be more careful with introducing the poodle. Just make sure you give all of them equal attention otherwise jealousy may ensue. We all know that the bottom line is CATS rule the house! Scolding the dog if he gets too excited will not work, in fact that will make the dog more upset and jealous. Short and sweet meetings at first is best. Good luck! I am sure they will be the best of friends.

  3. Sorry, but I don’t know how to do that as I got my Ragdolls as adults and they were already use to dogs, and they hate dogs lol.

    I wish you good luck!

  4. Hi Jenny,

    We foster cats. Though we have no direct experience introducing a new kitty to a dog, we do have a lot of experience introducing a new kitty and a cat to a multiple cat household.

    I like Karen’s advice and we do it in a similar way. I would restate that the dog needs to know that the kitty is loved and is to be protected and is a new member of the pack. It’s important.

    What we do is fix up a spare room for the kitty for a few days with a litter box, water dish, food dish, and toys. We keep the door closed and don’t let any of the cats in for about 3 days.

    This way the new kitty can get acclimated and the other cats can smell her from under the door and on the other side of the door. They start to get used to the smell.

    Then we put her in a kennel and open the door. The other cats are free to come up to the kennel but can’t harm her. She also gets to see and smell them. We do that for one or two days – as needed.

    Then we supervise a face-to-face one cat at a time and see how it goes by letting one cat in at a time while the new kitty is out of the kennel. We shut the door after the cat walks in.

    There is often tension with some growling and hissing but everyone seems to want to get past it most of the time.

    Gradually all the cats get used to the new kitten (time varies with each new kitten) and she becomes part of the population.

    It’s less threatening and less upsetting for all the cats this way.

    I’d imagine that it would work with a dog as well. Just incorporate some of Karen’s advice and it’ll be a good plan.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  5. Eszti & Phineas says:

    I just would like to point out that while Karen made some excellent points, newfies and poodles are not even comparable. Newfies are the gentle giants, as she as well said, really kind souls, while poodles tend to be little energy rockets, with much less gentle personality.

    This is not a bad thing, it is a breed-thing and nothing is wrong with that.

    What I would like to say is that not only the dog can harm the kitten. The kitten can very seriously injure Buzz as well, so you have to pay attention to that too.

    The other thing is, you have to make it clear that the cat is now part of the pack, and agression towards it is something that is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Any kind of agression. I understand you are rather afraid of the dog getting over-excited than agressive, but dogs react very sensitively when a new pack-member joins and for example they see that that member without any fight, immediately is above them. They will not understand it and they will want to fight their own fights to show that they won’t give up their beta position (humans are all alphas and with one dog in the family it is necesseraly beta).

    So do not stir up frustration in the puppy for example with giving food to the cat first and then to him, because he will not understand what has happened to the pack-order, will be confused and will want to take care of it (he would not have right for that, only alphas have rights to take care of anything but if he gets overly confused it can happen).

    With such an enegry-bomb kind of dog I would say let them be at the same place so they can smell eahc other without direct contact (crate is good), after a bit of time the dog will get used to the “new being” in the house, and will not make such huge fuss about it.

    Cats and dogs in my opinion can live in peace only if the cat is above the dog in the pack order (I know it seems to be the opposite of what I said above but it is not). Cats take care of that in no time they show the dog who is “boss”, and that is fine, because it means they “fought” that fight, and the cat did not just come and immediately became the member above them.

    Just my 2 cents :).

  6. We introduced our Ragdoll Mulsanne to our resident Newfoundland dog like this: We brought the dog Jewel with us on the road trip to get our kitty Mulsanne (who remained on my lap in a soft crate driving home while Jewel and he could sniff and see each other. Once home, we had a large dog crate set up like kitty condo (room enough for food/water, litter pan, toys, small soft basket to sleep, etc that he would stay in for overnight and/or when we were at work. We held the kitty in our arms and let them sniff and see each other and with kitty above the dog, Jewel would get a sense this is something to protect and be careful with while training her with that–to be careful, etc. Very cautiously let them play on floor together with us monitoring, correcting if necessary and really the kitty loved the big dog and they’ve always gotten along. Sometimes Jewel will bark at Mulsanne as he zooms through the house. Now Jewel is protective of Mulsanne when we’re out walking the neighborhood; she’s taken on the role of protector and this kitty is part of her pack. They play differently and have different food, treats and toys, so not really a competition. Always have places the kitty can climb (cat tree) as necessary. Within matter of weeks, Mulsanne was able to safely sleep on top of our bed overnight, dog on floor and seemed to naturally outgrown the need for kitty condo protection. First few days critical the dog learn this kitty is something you love and protect and new part of family. Do not tolerate bad behavior from dog toward cat—scolding/retraining if necessary. Our dog is pretty sweet kind soul, so she learned quickly and we were lucky. Mulsanne teases and torments the dog more than the other way around. They really love each other now and even share some snacks and nestle together and take walks together. So, good luck, be careful and they should be okay in a matter of weeks. Set them both up for success (with protection). Don’t let anything bad happen or the damage/scare will be harder to get over. —Karen

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