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Looking for advice on how to introduce an 8 year old cat to a home with a 4 year old (manic) dog..

(14 Posts)
Boobz Tue 02-Sep-08 14:20:44

Hello all,

First time poster in the pets section!

So we have a 4 year old Weimaraner bitch (Jackson) and she's lovely but loopy. We've had her for 8 months and she is a rescue (but not a proper rescue... it wasn't like she was ill-treated or anything -- the old owners just didn't have time for her any more).

So she's got all the commands (sit, come, stay, lie down, wait etc) but when she is distracted (by food or by a cat / squirrel; my husband leaving the house in the morning; the postman) she doesn't listen and does whatever the hell she wants.

I then decided to take in a friend's cat, Penny (as she couldn't have her any more) and she is 8 years old and pretty placid. She arrived last night and we have set up a little den for her in her own room (the office) with a litter tray, food, bed etc, and put a baby gate up so Jackson couldn't get to her but could still see her.

It's not even been 24 hours yet and I know it will take longer than that for them to get on, but Jackson will not stop barking and whining at Penny and really tries to go for her the one time I have tried to put them in the same room to introduce them.

So my question is... will they ever get on or will Jacks always be a little sod when it comes to cats and therefore I should stop trying now and give the cat back? Or if you think they will get better, how long does it usually take? Penny is currently hiding behind the sofa in the office and I don't blame her. She hasn't been to the loo yet, or eaten anything, and I can't see her wanting to ever leave that spot. She's such a meek little thing, I feel terrible inflicting my mad dog on her.

How long should I give it? Should I force more time together or do you think the dog will settle down and the cat will come out of her hiding place eventually of her own accord? What experiences have other MNers had?

Help. Feel so sorry for Penny. Sob.

Ok, what I would do is reverse things. Go and put doggy in the garden with food and water and a blanket to lie on, or even the garage, car, or a friends house for a few hours, if you have no outside space.

Then when all is quiet and calm, go open the gate, sit just outside it, and gently call the puss. Offer food and show her the litter tray, but mostly just very quietly talk to her and show her everything's ok.

Then when she's had a bit of a fuss (and hopefully been enticed to eat something/use the tray) let her roam your house and make it her own. She will jumpy and scared, expecting the dog to be hiding somewhere. Just give her time to acclimatise, and she will gradually start to feel like she is supposed to be there.

Then, get your dog and take him out for a really good loooong walk. Throw a stick, let him have a run and knacker him right out. When he comes home, feed and water him, and put him with his bed in one room, for example the kitchen. Continue to let the cat have the run of the house for a while, it won't do the dog any harm.

Then when you feel the dog is being calm, and the cat is feeling safer, start to let the dog in for short periods, and feed him some treats at the opposite end of the room to where the cat is, so they both get used to being in the same room calmly. At the first sign of bad behaviour from the dog, put him back in the kitchen.

This all sounds terribly involved but don't worry, they will get used to each other sooner than you think (a couple of weeks and he'll probably be ignoring the cat) you just need to give the cat a chance to claim the house first, and let the dog know the cat is a member of the family, not just a random cat to chase. Hope this all makes sense, good luck!

Er, justs as a pretty obvious footnote, don't leave the dog in the car for hours on end or in hot weather, and make sure he has access to water! eep!

Oh, and I meant the long walk idea to be before putting them in the same room together, in the hopes it would make him a bit more sleepy and docile. Sorry, I'm tired and useless today! grin

Boobz Tue 02-Sep-08 15:41:53

Thanks James! I think I will send dog off to my mate's house as we don't have a garage or a door to the kitchen, and I don't think I could leave her in the car.

Yeah you could have your friend look after him for a few hours while the cat adjusts, and then stick him in the kitchen or office with the babygate. All I really meant was, reverse it so the dog is restricted and the cat isn't for a few days until she's used to the house and you, and he's used to seeing her padding about. They'll both get the idea soon enough!

I believe that there's really only a few animals who truly will never get along, the majority of them just need a bit of time and a plan of action! We've just introduced two kittens (probably the easiest animals/stage to introduce, thankfully) and after much spitting and fighting, and me wondering what on earth I'd done- they are now best of friends. They eat, sleep, play and even go to the loo together. You've never seen anything like it. Two kittens pooing happily next to each other. How, er, sweet.... hmm wink

Boobz Tue 02-Sep-08 17:32:03

OK I get it now. I should put the dog in the office with the baby gate. You're right - I hadn't thought of that. She'll bark and whine all the time though... still, it's worth a try.

Thanks again.

Pixel Tue 02-Sep-08 18:23:52

Hi boobz, just wanted to say that we have taken on several older cats when we have already had dogs in the house and in every case they have ended up the best of friends (one cat even used to come for walks with the dog!). It takes a bit of time (and the cat might have to assert her authority over the dog, which they usually manage to do!), but they get there in the end. The funny thing is, the dogs don't suddenly stop being 'cat-chasers' but they seem to know that this is 'their' cat and part of the family.
We had one cat who was quite timid at first as she'd belonged to an old lady and was horrified by the dog who was jumping around and being an idiot. A bit like yours, she retired to the top of a cupboard and stayed there all week. We were worried she wasn't coming out for food etc. Then one day the dog came yelping in with a claw sticking out of his nose! After that they seemed to call a truce. I'm sure yours will be the same.
James's advice seems very sensible to me, give the cat a chance to gain a bit of courage in the strange surroundings smile.

Boobz Tue 02-Sep-08 22:38:38

Oh thanks so much Pixel - that fills me with so much confidence. She has come out from behind the sofa and has been on the litter box and eaten some tuna I have given her, so she seems a bit better. The dog is feeling a bit confused I think, as she has been the centre of mine and my husband's attention since we got her and we're pregnant too, so lots of changes afoot for her to cope with.

Anyway - onwards and upwards! xxx

othersideofthefence Tue 02-Sep-08 22:48:21

We introduced a cat into our home and our terrier was dreadful.
The first 3 weeks were awful - he constantly chased the cat and barked at her.
We used a stair gate so the cat had a place to go away from the dog. He spent a lot of time under the bed to start with.
We made sure they were fed together (under close superviosion) and after about 3 weeks they settled down and were fine - the cat did scratch the dog a few times.

At the moment they are sleeping together on the settee.

Boobz Tue 02-Sep-08 23:26:04

Awww - fabulous! Problem is, Jackson is sooo big (28kgs) and poor little Penny looks barely more than a kitten.... I'm worried the dog will stamp on her or something.

I was going to give it a week (that's what we told the old owner)... but do you think this isn't long enough then?

I'd at least give it two or three weeks. As othersideofthefence said, the cat will probably end up giving the dog a scratch on the nose but they'll likely end up tolerating and ignoring each other, if not becoming friends.

othersideofthefence Wed 03-Sep-08 19:42:07

If you can I would try 3 weeks to a month. We now have 6 cats (poor dogs are outnumbered) and everytime we introduce a new animal it takes them all about a month to settle down.
Some of our cats merely tolerate the dogs, some of the cats don't like each other and some of them are best friends.
I do believe if you can invest the time ( and consideraboe patience) things do settle down and you reach a status quo.

Good Luck!

Boobz Sat 06-Sep-08 21:40:13

Me, my husband, the dog and the cat are all lying on the sofa together as I type. What was I worried about?!

Thanks for all your great advice!

xx

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