The 411 of Cat & Dog Introductions at Stafford Animal Shelter

We are always asked:  “How does this dog do with dogs, cats & kids?” and we understand why this is important to a potential adopter. We want to keep every member of the household safe too.

To try and make a perfect adoption match, we reveal as much information & history as we can, but sometimes, we just don’t know. Being an open door shelter,  we take in strays, rescues and abandoned animals and we don’t always have the luxury of having their history. The best we can do is relay what we observe with them in the shelter as animal welfare professionals.  That being said, there are multiple studies that show animals in shelters act differently (good and bad) than they do in home environments.

This is the same reason that we no longer perform cat / dog introductions.  The information from these interactions was inconclusive and was not predictive of how they would react in a home.  They were unsafe and did not give accurate information. Cats and dogs react differently in different situations and faced with different individuals (just like humans!).  A dog might be comfortable with a cat that ignores it but might chase the cat who decides to run away.  A dog may be reactive on a leash and stress out the test cat (which is not humane) but when off leash in a home, may be a cat’s best friend.  A dog seeing a cat behind a glass window provides no information on how it will be when they are in the same room.  It is not possible to re-create the home environment in the shelter.  We instead recommend dogs go to cat homes based on observed play behavior, chase drive and history (if known).  This information can go a long way towards helping adopters make an informed choice. We also adopt to families who understand this isn’t a black and white answer and are willing to put in the work, go slowly, be patient and introduce the animals properly.   If unfortunately, the introduction does not work,  we ask that they return the animal so we can match them up with a safer options that fits in with the whole family.

Slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes it can take a while to introduce cats and dogs but it is well worth it.  We have many successful adoption stories (and photos to prove it) of cats and dogs cuddling together!

Here is a helpful link from Best Friends with tips on how to introduce your dog and cat:

(All animals pictured are Stafford Animal Shelter Alumni who were properly introduced and are now BFFs!)

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