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Dogs and Cats - In your experience?

(9 Posts)
Bast Thu 02-Jun-11 03:57:15

What is your experience?

I wonder about the 'can not be homed with cats' used by many rescues, sometimes.

Since childhood, I haven't had a dog (including pups, rescues and strays) which couldn't be socialised to accept it's own cats (obviously the cats play a part in this training!). i.e. 'This cat is family. We don't eat family.' Still, I wouldn't necessarily trust them at all unsupervised with unfamiliar cats.

A friends dog would 'red mist' and attack other dogs and anything smaller than her if given half a chance but even she was socialised to accept her neighbour's cat.

My dogs have been rehomed to me, with kit-cats but I couldn't say they are 'cat friendly'. They'll share water and feed bowls and beds with their own felines (they even clean each other!) but a cat who hasn't been gradually and properly introduced quite possibly wouldn't fare well with them at all.

(n.b. I do understand that some dogs can not be homed with cats! It just seems that this line is trotted out more often than it is possible to be true.)

What's your experience of feline/canine siblings?

Lizcat Thu 02-Jun-11 08:52:24

I always feel that if the dog is small enough/ young enough to be beaten to a pulp told who is boss by the cats then all can be well. I think also the attitude of the cats is very important my boy cat can keep even the largest most cat hating dog quaking in a corner, my girl cat mostly retires to her bed.
Saying this I have seen a dog who had happily live with a cat for 6 years suddenly turn on the cat and break it's leg.

Scuttlebutter Thu 02-Jun-11 11:15:42

Rescues don't come out with this line without thinking very carefully. Most rescues have long queues for cat friendly dogs and would love to be able to home more of them. Firstly, most rescues have only limited facilities for "cat testing" unless they are fortunate enough to have a large network of foster homes. Secondly, rescues are in the business of rehoming for the long haul. If there is a doubt, then they will quite rightly err on the side of caution.

If a dog chases or kills a cat then the dog is likely to be rehomed, another animal has been injured/killed, this is incredibly distressing for the owners involved and is dreadful for any children involved. If a dog kills or injures a cat belonging to a neighbour, say, this can have a terrible impact on the relationship between the people concerned. I'd also say that rescues are also cautious in this day and age about being sued - we live in an increasingly litigious society. A "cat friendly" label can therefore only be used very rarely. I'm primarily involved with greyhounds and this is an infrequent but regular reason for rehoming; since greyhounds are so fast, they can actually catch cats unlike many dogs who'll chase but often are not fast enough to do any damage.

Having dealt with the repercussions when this has happened I'd say that I'd rather be cautious, especially where large/fast/young dogs are concerned. Obviously, an elderly teacup Yorkie is going to be a different proposition.

mdoodledoo Thu 02-Jun-11 11:24:54

In my experience the cat will usually boss the dog around and make their feelings known if they don't like what a dog is doing. My cat has been friends with all four dogs we've had through her lifetime and is currently best friends with our Lab.

She didn't love our dogs when they were jumpy daft puppies, but actively seeks them out for warm cuddles when they hit about 9 months and have calmed down a bit. All my dogs have known that there will be no cat chasing or baiting tolerated - a consistent message from day one and so it's never been a problem (German Shepherd, Beagle, Labrador & Golden Retriever). My dogs also visit my Mum's house with two other cats and that message is consistently applied there too.

I do not agree with people who say that it's just nature for dogs to chase cats - it may be nature for them to be interested, or perhaps want to chase, but as with all training - if it's started early this something that can be changed.

I'm comfy with my dogs around all cats, but I would be very cautious with a dog who was known to have, or showed clear signs of wanting to 'attack' a cat rather than stupidly chase/run at it though. Claws and sharp teeth wouldn't stand much of a chance in a real 'I'm going to kill you' situation.

I think there's something about the cat 'knowing' dogs too - my cat (& my Mums) can read doggie behaviour and can choose to get out of the way if the dogs are playing, tell the dogs off etc etc. So if an unknown dog is housed with a cat who has had positive experiences with dogs that could work really well as a way of finding out how the dog can interact.

Bast Thu 02-Jun-11 11:48:43

It seems that those of us with both have had similar experiences so far.

I understand Scuttle, that rescues tend to have limited facilities for testing this scenario fully and therefore err on the side of caution ...I suppose I can't help but wonder if there is some way to address this?

See, I would happily sign a disclaimer and take any dog in to judge the situation for myself, if given two weeks to work on any preliminary issues. I understand that rescues (in fact all of us!) don't want any dog to shoved from pillar to post but would this possibility be any worse than fostering, if it opened up more options for more dogs?

Sprocker had the chop recently. The kits curled up each side of his body, purring and apparently taking great care of him, while he snoozed appreciatively smile ...a very different scenario from their first meeting!

DooinMeCleanin Thu 02-Jun-11 13:12:54

Ime it depends very much upon the dog, the cat and the trainer.

My terrier was deemed as 'cat okay' by the pound. He was not 'cat okay' however nor was he 'red mist' upon the sight of the cat. He could be distracted with chicken or games. Training him was easy, especially since my cat stands his ground, had the cat run I am sure Devil Dog would have chased given half the chance. He is still not okay with one of my mums cats as it runs on sight of the Devil Dog. I can't see this ever changing. No amount of training will stop Devil Dog chasing small furries. Devil Dog and the cat now cope with each other but in no way are they friendly. They can be left in the same room without killing each other. Ocassionally Dog will chase or Cat will dive bomb off the freezer onto Dogs head hmm

Whippy was smaller than the cat. She is 'unsure' of the cat. If he wants to get into bed with her and snuggle she is happy to, but she knows better than to disturb him unless he approaches her.

The JRT I had for a few days was niether cat or dog friendly. If you had chicken or cheese you were King of the World in his eyes. Getting him to accept being in the same room as Devil Dog was easy, I would go so far as to say they were quite friendly in the end. Devil Dog is much more confident around other dogs now than when we first got him and mainly ignored the JRT's growling. Whippy is very nervous. Getting the JRT in the same room as Whippy was a nightmare. JRT would growl, Whippy would run, JRT would chase, all hell would break loose. It would haven taken weeks if not months to solve this and I'm not sure I would have the exeprience to be 100% sure I was making the situation better not worse.

The cat was a similar story to Devil Dog, JRT could be distracted as the cat did not run. They never became friends and couldn't be left alone, but I am sure with more time they would have accepted each other.

The rescue have no idea how confident you are with training or how much time and effort you are willing to put in. Nor do they know your cats. If your cats run this makes your job a lot harder and would involve having to leash the dog and/or crate the cat. They wouldn't be able to be left alone for even a second without these precautions. A rescue cannot guarentee that you would do this, no matter how hard you promise. People lie. People believe they have the time/energy/experience to deal with such problems, but when it comes down to it, the novelty wears off after a few days.

emptyshell Thu 02-Jun-11 13:32:49

I'm currently waiting for a homecheck and a cat-workable greyhound to be found for us (I'm assured it's possible!).

Our current dynamic is funny. OK so the cat's an overly spoilt mardy primadonna who made things a hundred times harder with her trying to spoil for a fight (you'd think losing one leg to a dog before we got her would make her MORE cautious - nope it made her flipping Rambo on three legs). Dog is, well being honest here, a lazy bugger and has long ago concluded cats are too much like fucking hard work to bother with - cat starts on him and he just rolls his eyes and plods off. Taken a good 3 months+ to get to that level though - lots of time with the dog on a lead and removing him from the room if he made moves toward the cat (these were distinctly more "woooohooo plaaaaaymaaaate" than "nom nom nom" though), and then the cat conducted her own campaign of terror/dog training as well. She's the sort who'll stand her ground and swipe thankfully, rather than one that will leg it and we're now at the stage of a truce - probably never be "friendship" but she'll allow him to sniff her backside, he moves out of her spot on the bed when demanded to and I caught her washing his ear the other day... but the combination of personalities with this pair is akin to the Queen being forced to shack up with Rab C Nesbitt.

noscat Thu 02-Jun-11 13:57:48

I'm in the middle of getting my rescue dog used to my cats, and vice versa. I was dreadfully worried at first because she was desperate to chase them - barked incessantly etc. Nearly two months on, the youngest cat (7 months) loves the dog, the second cat decided that he would tolerate the dog but at arm's length. The third cat hasn't accepted the dog at all - still lives upstairs and refuses to come down, and although the dog is generally ok with two of the cats if she catches sight of him through the bannisters then all hell breaks lose! I was naive because the rescue centre said she was "cat friendly" - I didn't think it would be quite so hard or take so long, but I suspect as outlined in the posts above the test would have been a walk through a room where a cat was quietly sitting in a cat carrier. I feel a lot closer to reaching my ultimate goal of sitting on the sofa surrounded by all of them though - only one cat to go.

izzybiz Thu 02-Jun-11 15:19:22

Our old SBT was already ours when we got our cat as a kitten, the dog used to try and get her at first but soon learned that she wasn't allowed to.
She would still chase other cats outside though.

We now have another SBT that we got as a puppy, cat is now an older lady.
When we bought pup home the cat puffed to three times her usual size and the dog was scared of her!

Now the dog is fully grown the cat tolerates her!
The dog will go to wherever the cat is sitting and gently mouth her while the cat attacks her face, she seems to enjoy it hmm
Crazy dog!

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