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(9 Posts)
CraigN2016 Mon 11-Jan-16 15:25:58

My son is 7 years old and has Autism , global development delay and epilepsy.. for a while now I have been noticing he has started to become increasingly frustrated and this sadly has been leading him to self harm and get very upset.. However at Christmas something breathtaking happened at that was when he was at our aunties and he started to get very upset and distressed when suddenly my aunties dog entered the room and placed its head on my sons knee... Instantly my son was calm and stopped punching his chest and poking his eyes... This has never happened before! It normally takes me ages to get my son calm but as soon as he saw the dog he was calm and relaxed!

I am now seriously considering getting my son a dog, I thought about it before but decided to put it on hold but after seeing him with the dog at Christmas and New Years I am now wanting to get a dog more than ever... My son is so calm around the dog, HOWEVER I am very worried because we also have a cat and the cat is also my baby, and I am worried how he will react ...

My son is going to have a big big change in his life soon and I know a dog may help him a lot ( he is going to meet his mum for the FIRST TIME in 7 years... She gave him up the moment he was born)

Has anyone ever got a dog after having a cat? How did they react? any tips?

Would you say a dog would be a good idea?


babypup Mon 11-Jan-16 16:07:20


I have a 6 year old son (not diagnosed as Autistic, but is certainly somewhere on a spectrum with different tics and displays OCD behaviors, pending assessment currently). I guess what I'm saying is he has some issues so it's relevant, not the easiest of most predictable child with loits of anxiety which can swing to hyperactivity. I'm also on my own with him 50% of the time so I get the single parent part too. My son does not do well with life changes either, it always exacerbates whatever symptoms we have going on at that time. It can be tough as I'm sure you will appreciate.

Anyway, I have a cat, 10 years old and very set in her ways, and we got a puppy in April last year. It's been brilliant for my son, they have such fun together. My boy can be a bit rough with him at times so I purposefully went for the liveliest wee dog in the litter that could give my boy a run for his money! Our dog is a Yorkiepoo (Yorkshire terrier, poodle cross). Small but full of fun and totally robust to handle a wild young man lol!

The cat was initially very nervous, but now they get on great. We made sure the cat retained her own places, was given lots of cuddles and 'her time', and the puppy was put out of the room if he was being too lively with her....cats are smart, that let her know we were on her side and she was still boss. And honestly, when the puppy overstepped the mark, she gave him one swift claw across the nose and that was that! Animals have a remarkable way of sorting things out among themselves.

The benefits of the dog for Josh have been brilliant, we get out and walk more, he has responsibilities, but most of all, they run around daft together like a wee boy and his dog should. It makes me smile every day, despite the chaos. And the cat, she still knows she's boss so everyone is happy.

It sounds like a great plan for your soon x

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Mon 11-Jan-16 16:10:20

Hi, we have rehiring centres and ladies who asses dogs - they can look at temperament etc of any dog. You may find more specialist agencies.

As long as the cat is there first - they should be fine.

Good luck.- sounds positive

HollyJollyDillydolly Mon 11-Jan-16 16:12:00

There is a charity called paws (I think that's right) that train dogs for children with autism. They also hold workshops for family dogs. I was looking into this for my dd although it looks like their waiting list is full at present.
It definitely sounds like your ds will benefit from a furry friend smile

Mynd Mon 11-Jan-16 23:36:36

I have two dogs and a cat. The first dog (11) was an only pet for 7 years, until a 12 year old cat arrived. 6 months later, dog number 2 was adopted aged 8. Both dogs chase cats outdoors, the newest dog would run to the ends of the Earth to catch one. But neither does in the house, and the newest dog is the most wary of my cat. I'd say as long as the cat had a safe place to go, and you didn't rush the friendship, you'd be fine. If you look at some rescue centres, they can cat-test a dog for you. Good luck!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 11-Jan-16 23:45:38

My son has autism too so please take this I the sprit it's intended: are you ready for a dog?

Undoubtedly, your son will get a lot out of it, but the responsibility will be yours. You will have to walk the dog. You will have to pay the vets bills, buy the food, pay for the jags. Oh yeah, and do all the walks.

A 7 yo with autism is there for the fun parts, none of the responsibility. That will ALL be on you.

Another point: We have sat for a lot of family dogs over the last few years to see how it works for DS and he's not keen at all on a jumpy puppy. Whereas we're not keen on a mature dog who (bluntly) may not be with us for long.

HarHer Tue 12-Jan-16 08:06:19


My son is a little older but he has a fantastic relationship with our cat. In fact the richness of their relationship challenges a lot of assumptions that are made about people with autism and about cats. Because my son is older (16) he has been given (supervised) responsibility for the cat's care. So, he has bottle fed her (we have had her since she was a young kitten); cleaned out her litter tray; made toys for her to play with and made sure the house is 'kitten proof' . I have found that, like many people on the autism spectrum, my son worries. He worries profoundly about the kitten (she is 4 months old). He worries that she will die; that she will become ill; that she 'hates' him because she runs off and hides and that she may like someone else better than him. I have used these worries as an opportunity to help my son understand a little about relationships e.g. a person/cat can love lots of people, but perhaps s/he will have one or two special people in his/her life; that worrying about someone is all part of loving them and so on.

Although we have never had a dog, my son and his brother helped to look after my mother's border collie pup. My son obviously loved and cared for the puppy, but (in typical border collie fashion) the dog was too energetic and intense for him at that time. His brother (14) was absolutely fantastic with the pup and the animal gave both the boys not only the opportunity to make social contact e.g. with other dog walkers, but also to engage in a topic of conversation that most people in this country are happy to talk about: pets.

i am sure your son's life and yours will be richer with a pet.

Mynd Tue 12-Jan-16 10:22:57

Have to say, my very shy but NT daughter had a wonderful relationship with her budgie. And they're a doddle to look after! My daughter was 2 when she got him and she was almost totally deaf at that time so had no language. The budgie gave her something to try talking to. A neighbours cat killed him last year and she still talks about him. Only an idea :-)

Mynd Tue 12-Jan-16 10:32:36

I agree that dogs really open the world up for shy people. My older dog looks like a big black muppet and she always has disabled people stroking her. She was a severely abused dog but shows so much patience with them. At our last house, she was friends with a profoundly autistic teenager who always looked for her on the street. Also a non- verbal elderly deaf woman. And a young man with CP. It used to take all morning to get around the park!

I've found that people tend to talk to the dog, not me. And they always ask the same questions (name, gender, breed). So it's a good way of starting a safe, predictable conversation.

I'm not sure a bouncy puppy is the best way forward. Personally I'd go for an adult rescue dog, because you can see the size, energy level, personality etc before you commit. You'll still have years with them. My older dog was 4 when I took her in and aged 11 she's still an active healthy dog. My new dog is 8 and is like a rocket when playing fetch outdoors, though old enough to be chilled out inside and not need so many walks if your day just hasn't worked out too well!

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