Take Me Home!

Humane Association executive director offers advice on pet adoption

Shelley Janke, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Puppers Zane, left, and Jack meet  at the Eau Claire County Humane Association
Puppers Zane, left, and Jack meet at the Eau Claire County Humane Association

You’ve made the decision. The adoption process has been started at your local humane association and you are days away from bring home a new member of your family! Pets take time to adjust to new homes, but there are things that we can do to help introduce animals into our family, especially if there are other pets involved in the process.  

Tips for bringing a new cat home with another cat.

While preparing to bring home your new cat, it would be best to give him/her a separate space. Once your new cat is home and in its room, they’ll now be able to smell and hear the other cats in the home without being able to touch them. After two to three days, switch the cats so they are able to wander and smell each other better. This also allows your new cat to look around its new home. At this point, if there have been no signs of aggression, you may slowly start introducing the cats. You can do this by placing two baby gates in the door frame so they can now see each other, or by putting leashes on each cat and letting them see each other but keeping them from touching. Let the cats find each other, but don’t place them right in front of one another and keep a close eye on them: One cat’s play signals may be misread by another cat as aggression. Keep in mind that they may not be best friends right away. It may take a month or more for them to be comfortable lying in a windowsill together, or you may find them curled up in your recliner in three weeks’ time. 

Tips for bringing a new dog home with another dog.

Introduce your new family member into the home slowly. Supervise them any time they will be able to play or touch each other. You can leave leashes on them if you want the added control. It is best to separate them at night. While they play together they may play roughly. If you feel that they are being too rough, you should separate them immediately. Keep your resident dog’s schedule as close to his or her normal routine as possible. Feed the dogs at scheduled times and from separate bowls. It is best to keep them apart while feeding to avoid jealousy and food aggression. Always remain calm and assertive when introducing your new dog into the household. If you’re stressed or anxious, the dog may pick up on your emotions and become stressed and anxious themselves. 

Tips for introducing a new cat home with another dog.

Keep the pets separate for AT LEAST the first three or four days. While the pets are still separate, begin to feed them on opposite sides of a closed door. The idea is to teach them to associate the presence of the other pet with pleasant things, such as food. When the pets can eat their food calmly right next to the door, begin face-to-face meetings. Keep the first few sessions short and calm. Keep the dog on a leash and let the cat come and go as she wishes. Repeat these face-to-face sessions daily, saving the pets’ favorite treats for when they are together. If the cat attempts to leave the room, allow her to do so, and do not let the dog chase her. When both animals appear to be getting along well, allow them to be loose in the room together, keeping the dog’s leash attached and dragging on the floor.

Shelley Janke is executive director of the Eau Claire County Humane Association and an avid pet lover.  The Eau Claire County Humane Association serves the area by sheltering and caring for homeless pets. Each year, more than 2,000 animals enter the shelter in search of their forever home.  Shelley joined the Eau Claire County Humane Association in 2018 after serving her entire career in the non-profit sector. She grew up on a farm in western Wisconsin and in her spare time loves to hang out with her three children, husband Scott, and cat named Katie Cat.