It can be a challenge having more than one pet in the household, but it can be even more challenging trying to introduce a new pet. However, it is a challenge that can be met successfully!

Each pet has its own way of communicating and also acts instinctively in certain situations. For example, a dog wagging its tail means something completely different to a cat. This can cause confusion, upset, and fighting – and not just between the pets!

How can you meet the needs of a multi-pet household?

Prepare for a Multi-pet Household

One of the key factors in making sure that your different pets can all live peacefully is to prepare well. This is just as important if you plan on introducing the same type of species (i.e. you already have a dog and you plan to have another one) or a different species (like a dog and a cat).

If you have something with the scent of your new pet on it, like a blanket or toy, then you could allow your pets to smell this before they are introduced. You should also make sure that each pet has its own food bowl and feeding area. This can help you avoid aggression issues.

If you plan on having more than one cat, then you should have enough litter boxes for each cat, plus an extra one. It is important to visit your local vet to make sure that all pets are up to date on the vaccinations.


First impressions last, and the same can be true for pets. Therefore, you want to make sure that the first meeting is as successful as possible.

Hopefully, if you have prepared well, your pet will already know the scent of the other pet. However, you still need to create a positive atmosphere for the first meeting.

It is best to introduce pets on neutral ground to avoid any territorial issues. So, have a friend help you, and have both pets meet somewhere quiet and calm, but away from their home territory.

If there is any aggressive behavior like snarling or growling, then gently separate them and start over again. You can reward them with treats as long as they are separate from each other. It’s important to be patient.

Multi-pet Household

It’s important that, especially at the start, each pet has its own area in the house. For example, if the new pet is a cat, you could have their litter tray, bedding, food, and scratching post in the bathroom. This gives a safe area and the pets can still get to ‘know each other’ by sniffing through the door. If a dog is the new pet, you could have it new ‘safe’ area in a bedroom and close off the doorway with baby gates.

You should also make sure that you are always present when your pets interact on the first few occasions. To start with, have both pets on a leash and to start at a distance and gradually move closer. If there is a negative reaction, don’t pull harshly on the leash because this will just create a negative association.

It can take a few weeks for all pets to start feeling ‘at home’ with each other. Always make sure and give each pet the love and attention that it has been used to.

It is possible to successfully manage a multi-pet household if you have good preparation, are patient, and avoid pets feeling that they are threatened by the presence of more animals in the household.