Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Dog attacked cat(23 Posts)
We adopted a dog recently, she's the most lovely easy going dog I've ever met. The problem is we have a 20 year old cat who is very frail, the cat and dog live together happily most of the time but the dog has attacked her twice in the 5 weeks since we adopted her. The cat (Posh) can just be walking through a room and the dog (Bonnie) will jump from wherever she is sitting and attack, there seems to be no reason for it at all! Can anyone help? It's not playful at all, I'm actually worried that my cat is going to be killed by one of these attacks.
Just wanted to add that Bonnie is around 2.5 years old.
I think, sadly, you’ve established that Bonnie needs a cat free home. Normally I’d suggest returning her to the rescue, but I don’t know how that works in these troubled times.
You need to keep them separate for now, it sounds as if the dog is guarding her area, I'd only allow the cat in the same room if the dog is on a lead. If she ignores the cat then praise and reward, if she goes for it then you check her firmly with the lead at the same time as a firm 'no', they do learn if correctly monitored, but priority must be keeping your cat safe. (owner of six cats and three large dogs, including a lurcher.)
A lot of dogs have prey drive and will go for cats, especially if they haven't grown up with them.
You can either work with your dog on a lead, building up to being able to walk the dog calmly past the cat with no pulling or lunging, or return her to the rescue.
The rescue should really have been more sensible and responsible about this - they should have either known that the dog didn't like cats, or assumed as much, and not let the dog go to a home with a cat unless they she had lived with new cats e.g. in foster with no problems.
How have you let this happen twice? You need to keep them apart. Or yes the cat will quite likely end up dead.
Keep dog and cat separate unless you are in the room and dog is on a lead. Get professional help, many behaviourists will do remote sessions at the moment. The advise on here may be good but often is not. For example:
"If she ignores the cat then praise and reward"
Do this (above)
" if she goes for it then you check her firmly with the lead at the same time as a firm 'no'"
Do NOT do that (above) I'm a dog behaviourist. That will lead to the association cat =pain which can result in dog fearing cats. Fear is a cause of aggression.
If you work at it, this problem can be overcome. Good luck
Stair gates everywhere and "safe" places for the cat where the dog can't go. Agree the dog stays on a lead around the cat at all times and is rewarded for ignoring the cat. Cut off chasing of the cat before it starts. It's taken us 1.5 years for our rescue who was "good with cats" to stop chasing ours and that was with constant and consistent training. It was a nightmare. And that was without our dog being aggressive towards them, as such, just chasing and harassing them which was bad enough. They live together pretty well now, can be in the same room, lie on the bed with me etc but I'll never leave them alone together and I'm still really vigilant.
Thanks for the advice everyone. Bonnie was in foster care with 2 cats and no problems were reported (this is something I checked several times). I will be speaking to the rescue today and keeping them separate until I am confident enough to introduce them again safely. In regards to how it has happened twice, the first time was when they passed in the hallway 4 weeks ago, I have kept a very close eye since and won't let Posh in the same room as Bonnie unsupervised. The second time was last night, Posh likes to sit in the front garden and it seems she has worked out how to get to the back garden from there now, the conservatory door was open so she walked into the conservatory where Bonnie was sitting, walked past her and got around 2 metres away when Bonnie jumped. I was in the kitchen at the time.
You must never leave them alone. Keep the dog on a lead if the cat is in the same room. And don’t introduce them.
You need the dog to learn to ignore the cat completely.
You need to go back and get advice from the rescue and keep them apart just now.
I have used the following method to train rescue dogs to live with cats but some will just never be able to live with them:
Keep them apart unless dog on a lead. Get high value treats. If dog looks at the cat say 'ah ah' sharply and loudly then give dog a treat as soon as it looks at you and away from the cat Keep doing this until dog no longer wants to even look at the cat. This can take a few days or a few weeks depending on dog.. But you have to be extremely vigilant until you are sure dog is not a threat. Keep dog on lead and don't leave them alone together.
Checking a dog on a lead does not cause pain! All my dogs know from a word when they've done something wrong and are happy to oblige with no fear involved, they need to understand what is and is not acceptable behavior. I've obedience trained dogs for over forty years without using fear.
I'm glad this is something that can be resolved, I think we will definitely be seeking help from a behaviourist as soon as possible and using the suggestions from you lovely people in the meantime
I wonder if she was ok with the 2 cats as they were more of an attacking pack IYSWIM , whereas your elderly cat is an easy target . I’d be telling the rescue that the dog needs to go back and id call that essential travel . I’d then wait until the cat has passed on before you get a dog , at 20 she deserves to live out her life without having this kind of stress . With a cat that comes in and out it’s going to be quite difficult to keep them apart / keep an eye on them all the time especially with the better weather and having doors / windows open .
I rescued and fosterd ex-racing greyhounds with a very old cat. She liked them once they had been trained and would run up to the dog and bop him on the nose. We just got a new cat and my younger dog was again a bit too 'keen' on him. But I did the training and now they are friends.Another yhing we did was swap their bedding and brush them with same brush.
Get the cat checked.
My dog attacked my cat a couple of times, having lived together for years.
The cat had cancer. I think the dog knew, long before there were any actual signs. I think the dog perceived her as being more vulnerable.
You need to rehome the dog imo, it’s not worth the risk, clearly she’s not okay with cats if she’s attacked your poor cat twice now. I would not take the risk again.
Your poor cat. Why have you done this? Your cat is very elderly and you've introduced an attacking dog into her home
It's pretty selfish of you as so unfair to your cat. Too late now of course but I'd recommend rehoming the dog
Thank you again everyone, some great advice here. We decided that we couldn't take the risk any more, bonnie now lives with my grandparents who have a lot of experience, she loves it there and they love having her.
@LatteLarrys we checked again and again that Bonnie was okay with cats and we were told she was great with them. Posh loves dogs. Our pets have been adopted from dire situations and learnt how to be loved, I don't think that's selfish.
Good idea. I was going to say get rid of the dog. Id wait till the cats gone before you get a dog.
That's fair enough OP! Apologies for my post
That's good you've been able to rehome the dog.
Our cats are boss of our terrier but we still shut the dog away in her crate overnight or when we all go out because there is always that niggle that her prey drive will kick in especially when our cats decide have a giddy moment chasing around the house!