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Rehoming a dog in a house with an elderly cat - please tell me it's possible!

(50 Posts)
diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 17:17:19

After some advice - I've wanted a dog for years, I work part time and have the time and energy to spend with one, and would love my DS to grow up with one as I did.

My only reservation is my elderly cat. She's 16 but is in good health and could (hopefully will) be with us for another 5 years!

I've been keeping an eye on local rescues and there's one that tests the dogs with cats they have. They have a 2 year old whippet I've fallen for who has been fine around their cats. I'm considering applying for her. Does anyone have any advice about this? Is it very unfair to my cat who's been an only pet since her brother died three years ago? Surely there are success stories out there?!

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Lovemusic33 Thu 20-Jun-19 19:17:44

I’m in a similar position but my cat has lived with a dog previously, we want to rescue another dog after ours passed away a few weeks ago. I have introduced a dog to the cat before, the cat sulked and hid for a while, took a few weeks for him to venture anywhere near the dog. We kept the dog in the living room using a stair gate so the cat could go upstairs without the dog following. The cat ended up good friends with the dog and they would share a sofa together. It is doable but could also go wrong and you could end up with an unhappy cat.

diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 20:20:37

Thanks @Lovemusic33 . Glad to hear yours came around eventually! It's so hard to know how she'd react as she hasn't been around dogs, but she was never around babies until she was 10 and eventually grew to love DS smile. I suppose I can always express an interest and see what happens....

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MyGuideJools Thu 20-Jun-19 21:09:49

we've got 2 cats, aged 4 and 15
we got a puppy in April and the cats arnt keen. We have a stair gate and the cats have the run of the upstairs and even have their own bedroom. They sit on the stairs and watch the dog and the dog just looks at them (He did chase them on the first meeting but we worked on that)
They will come downstairs if the dog is outside but they are still quite wary.
The cats sleep with me at night so they still get time with me but it's been hard.
someone told me it took a year for their cat and dog to be on nodding terms.
We were on the list for a rescue for 18 months but none would home a dog with us because of the cats.

diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 21:51:56

Thanks @MyGuideJools. Eek. I specifically don't want a puppy as I think it would be too bouncy and hyper around her. We'll see what happens with the expression of interest I've submitted anyway.

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MyGuideJools Thu 20-Jun-19 22:31:53

I think that's it, the puppy is too bouncy for the cats at the moment, and he's quite big (lab). I'm hoping as pup gets a bit older and calms down 🤞 then the cats will be less freaked. Time will tell!
Right now pup is in bed and the cats are snuggled in bed with mesmile

MyGuideJools Thu 20-Jun-19 22:32:49

Good luck, it won't do any harm to show interest flowers

Wolfiefan Thu 20-Jun-19 22:36:10

Good luck.
We decided to wait as old girl wasn’t in the very best of health. My concern was whether an old cat could get away if a dog decided to chase.
We now have young cats and a dog. There have been occasions when they have leapt a fence or bounced up on the back of a chair to get away from our sighthound. Can your cat manage that?
If you do go ahead the Blue Cross has great advice on introducing a dog to cats. As does Dog training advice and support group on FB. Free and expert advice.
Good luck.

Branleuse Thu 20-Jun-19 22:43:07

I recently got a rescue dogs who was cat tested and extremely calm as shes a bit older (7) and has had puppies etc, which maybe it what calmed her, but shes a calm beautiful soul and has never chased the cats. Even my two more skittish cats got used to her within a week, and my confident cat took less than a day. It definitely can work. In fact they were much MUCH quicker to accept her than it took them to accept kittens a couple of years ago.
I dont know about your rescue, but mine did a weeks trial with us first.

diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 22:57:10

Thanks everyone. I've expressed an interest anyway, and would want to do a trial.

Yes, she can still move fairly quickly but I wouldn't want her to have to if I could avoid it!

I've also heard that @Branleuse - often cats will get on better with a dog introduced to the house than a new cat!

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diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 22:58:02

Sounds lovely @MyGuideJools !

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BatFacedGirl Thu 20-Jun-19 23:02:33

Yep it's pretty unfair to your elderly cat. She's not been brought up in a dog household so this is going to be quite the distressing shock for her. Your call of course but it's a poor idea

Wolfiefan Thu 20-Jun-19 23:02:47

A longline was my friend in the house in the early weeks. Meant the cats were NEVER chased. And that’s important.
Stairgates are great too!

Spookydot Thu 20-Jun-19 23:08:06

I have two cats and then got a lab pup. Similar to other posters, the cats were wary at first, and our dog was a bit excited by them. However they seem to have called a truce now. I wouldn’t say they are friends yet but a year in, nothing bad has happened and the cats still come home, so I assume they’re happy with it. smile

StCharlotte Thu 20-Jun-19 23:18:35

We had three cats when we adopted our Lab, one of which was 18. She fell instantly in love with the dog and they were very happy together until she died at 23.

We now only have the dog left and I'm desperate to get another cat but DH is adamant that the dog (13) won't like it. Dammit.

diaduittoyou Thu 20-Jun-19 23:22:55

23 @StCharlotte - wow, what an amazing age! Had she been around dogs before?

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Fucksandflowers Fri 21-Jun-19 11:24:47

Personally, I think it would be a spectacularly selfish thing to do.

She is 16, she isn't going to be with you long and even if the dog is genuinely cat safe I don't think she is likely to welcome any new animal with open arms.
Cats are territorial and solitary creatures naturally.

A rescue's version of cat testing isn't always as in depth as what you might expect.

Plus, the cats used are likely quite dog savvy and confident.
A dog that gets on fine with a bolshy, confident cat might take great delight in chasing and harassing a nervous skittish one.

Fucksandflowers Fri 21-Jun-19 11:28:55

Also, what do you plan on doing if your cat is unbelievably distressed and you feel like you can't keep the dog?
Send it back to rot in the rescue?
That isn't very nice either.

Leave the whippet where it is where it can hopefully find a lively forever home, wait for your cat to pass over then get a dog.

diaduittoyou Fri 21-Jun-19 11:30:28

I take your point @skittish and am starting to think the same in the cold light of day.

We've wanted a dog for so long and when she was 12 we said she probably wouldn't be around for much longer but 4 years later she's still going strong, so I could easily see her being around into her early 20s! But that's something we signed up to, and just because we want a dog doesn't mean it's the right thing for her.

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diaduittoyou Fri 21-Jun-19 11:31:10

Sorry response was for @Fucksandflowers!

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StCharlotte Fri 21-Jun-19 11:32:28


I don't really know. She came with the house! She was 16 when we moved in. I'm just glad her (many!) last years with us were happy.

It was very sweet.

Fucksandflowers Fri 21-Jun-19 11:43:39

Realistically, you aren't looking much over about 5 years though for the cat bless her.
It's not a massively long time really then you could get a lovely dog and your choice will be much wider as well as you won't necessarily need cat safe.

Branleuse Fri 21-Jun-19 14:01:57

i dont think its any more selfish than getting a pet or two in general. As long as you were clear with yourselves that the trial period was to see if it worked for the whole family including the cat. Giving a dog back after a trial period is not a terrible thing to do if it doesnt work.
It will also be good for the dog to learn to live with a cat in case you want another cat later too. There are lots of ways to appease a cat thats a bit put out by a new family member. I gave them more luxury food for a few weeks for a start.

Saying that, 2 is still quite young and playful and whippets are sighthounds, so id watch them carefully at first, but chances are would be fine.

JoinTheMicrodots Fri 21-Jun-19 14:05:12

I think it's very unfair, bordering on cruel, to your old cat. Wait until she dies!

HellInAHandCartThatsWhat Fri 21-Jun-19 14:11:40

We did it and it was fine, there was a puppy gate which the cat could get through and the puppy couldn't. We also created lots of space in the house. There was an initial bit of hissing but it all settled down remarkably quickly. They aren't friends, but if its cold they'll settle down together.

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