NOW OR NEVER

Wanted: Relationship help for two cats, one dog

Rosemary Quipp and Mike Walsh enjoy spending time together. Their pets, however, do not. In fact, the first time they tried to introduce Walsh's dog Oakley to Quipp's cats Scout and Atticus, it ended badly.
Rosemary Quipp, Mike Walsh and Oakley. (supplied)
Listen13:17

Ottawa couple Rosemary Quipp and Mike Walsh enjoy spending time together. Their pets, however, do not. In fact, the first time they tried to introduce Walsh's dog Oakley to Quipp's cats Scout and Atticus, it ended badly.  

"Mike was bleeding, I was crying, the cats were locked upstairs and Oakley had no idea what was going on and just wanted to make everything better," Quipp said.

Granted, the pair introduced  their pets without any research, but they didn't think it would go as badly as it did. 

Quipp reached out to Now or Never to see if anyone had any advice for the next time she and Walsh tried to introduce their animals. 

Atticus and Scout having a cuddle. (supplied)
Enter Bev Pike, an artist and, more importantly, a cat behaviour expert in Winnipeg. While she's not a professional, Pike has had cats for 20 years — she currently has six of them — and loves researching their psychology. She has helped many people in a similar situation, and has a couple of tips for the pair.

Pike's point #1: Scent is key
"Early on, you need to be in control. You can't let them figure it out on their own. Part of this control includes getting each animal used to the other's scent." Pike suggested trading blankets between the animals, or petting each one with a mitt and then letting the other animal smell it. Pike emphasized that for both cats and dogs, scent is everything, and if they are going to sniff each other early on, it should be through a door or separation. In this case, slow and steady wins the race. 

Oakley hanging out at home. (supplied)
Pike's point #2: Avoid eye contact

"Animals aren't that different from humans. If someone was giving you the hairy eyeball, you'd be wary of them, and the same goes for animals." Pike said that for both dogs and cats, eye contact is a sign of aggression, and to minimize that it's the humans' job to introduce the animals slowly. She suggested keeping the pets in separate rooms first, then using a towel, sheet or something that's easy to put between them once they're introduced.

To hear what happened when Quipp and Walsh tested the advice, click the Listen button above.