New puppy - will my cats ever come back downstairs?!(59 Posts)
We are a week in. Puppy is crated but my 2 6 year old cats are terrified. One did make her way into the kitchen but took one look at puppy and sprinted away. I know it's still early days but I had hoped they would be a bit braver by now.
I have feliway plug ins in a couple of places but any advice would be very welcome. I feel guilty!!
@Haffdonga - it was me who said about terriers. I’m glad things worked out with terrier and your cat so that proves there are always exceptions. It’s just that generally speaking, terriers can be a bit more risky around cats.
Haha. You’ll soon have the situation we have with the cats tormenting the poor dogs. We have converted the garage to a dog bedroom to keep the poor baby pups safe at night. (One 60kg and the 16 week old pup 25kg. But still? Those kitties are mean!)
The cats are 6 and one truly rules the roost! It is a fairly big house over 4 floors so the cats have room to roam. I've got a stair gate on the kitchen door and her crate is in the kitchen.
I knew it would not be a walk in the park, and since my opening post the cats do seem as if they're finding their feet a tad. Not to the extent that they will stroll into the kitchen while she's in here (although I did come home earlier and catch one licking her lips and the puppy bowl empty - puppy asleep in her crate) so maybe it's going in the right direction.
But you're right, it's bonkers to suggest that cats and dogs cannot co-exist!
The advice we had was get cats first, ensure they are settled (rule the roost!) then introduce the dog.
I grew up with lots of both in a very large house and I think if you have room then it's fine and also if they are all young when they come then it's fine or the dog comes first then the cats it's fine but to get a puppy with a small ish house and established cats is bonkers .. the cats will probably get over it eventually but they won't be the same .
I'm amazed by all the people saying that cats are traumatised by living with dogs. What's the betting that those cat owners have never actually owned a dog and are basing their 'knowledge' on stereotypes?
I've grown up with cats and dogs, always one or two of each.
My country grandma had about ten of each Never a problem. Just about everyone I know who has a dog also has a cat - probably hundreds of happy cats living with happy dogs in total. I have never heard of a dog that couldn't be trained to live safely with a cat or a cat that couldn't adjust to sharing contentedly with a dog.
Have you got a big house ? It is a bit silly to get a puppy when you have established cats in a normal sized house in my opinion . They probably won't get over it for a long time to be honest , just make sure they can eat and sleep somewhere safe from the puppy .
Someone said anything except a terrier. Not in my experience. The puppy we successfully introduced to adult cat was a terrier. Terrier and cat became close friends and would curl up together. Terrier was quite capable of understanding that she didn't chase her own cat
but woe betide random neighbourhood cats who stepped foot in her garden
I'm so glad for the latter responses! I was beginning to doubt myself.
Both have come down today to explore, they scarpered once they saw her but it was progress. In themselves they are as they always are, happily purring and rubbing against me. Not off their food or hiding away. I've taken puppy's bed upstairs today so they can smell her on that.
Puppy is completely unfazed by them and wants to play.
We had three cats when we got a 3 year old rescue dog, a very calm Lab. One was about 18 and it was love at first sight and she actually forgot how much she hated our younger 3 year old cats. One of the younger cats was fairly indifferent and pretty much ignored him, but then this was a cat who faced down a visiting English Mastiff! The other cat probably took about a year to stop flouncing.
Introducing a dog to cats is not a crime!
I had this kind of dog / cat predicament but the other way around - we introduced a cat into a dog household. My aunt had a much cherished indoor only quite elderly cat. My poor aunt was diagnosed with terminal cancer and we promised my aunt that we would take her cat when the time arose. Our crazy Labrador was soon put in his place by the newcomer - it was embarrassing to watch the cat kick the Labrador from his dog basket and reclaim it as her bed whilst the dog tried to fit in the catbed! The cat and dog got on fine as long as the dog realised that the cat was boss. The cat flourished in our multi children, multi pet household and loved venturing into the garden. I missed the cat so much when she died but I'm so glad we gave the situation a go - on paper it sounded like it wouldn't work out but in reality it was fine.
People who say cats and dogs have a natural animosity may be right but then so do dogs and other dogs, and dogs and humans, and cats and other cats etc. We choose to live together with these other species in what are frankly unnatural conditions but we've all evolved to learn to co-habit. Dogs and cats are just as able to learn to live with each other (if done carefully) as cats and cats.
In fact we have recently found it far more traumatic to introduce our 5 year old cat to a new kitten. Older cat literally took one look at the newcomer and ran outside and stayed there. He took up residence under our garden hedge on hunger strike for about 2 weeks. He refused to have any truck with the whole swapping scents and treats advice the websites give. He stopped eating and lost a lot of weight even though I was very careful to feed him separately in a place kitten couldn't go. It was only by keeping him locked inside for a month that he learnt to tolerate the terrifying ferocious tiny baby. Now 6 months in, I wouldn't call them friends but they'll put up with each other peacefully.
The best advice is give your cat plenty of space out of puppy's reach. When they come in to contact let cat take it at his own pace and keep puppy very tightly under control. Reward the puppy effusively for calm gentle behaviour with cat. Accept that your cat will have to work out for himself that standing his ground is less exciting for the puppy than running. Don't leave them alone together until puppy has learned not to chase. Then enjoy watching their bond. They can eventually bring each other pleasure and play.
KatharinaRosalie Your poor cat looks utterly traumatised 🙄 !!
Thank you to those who have given me positive affirmations that it can work but takes time. They are slowly becoming bolder but even when she's in her crate they still run away. But baby steps and we will get there!
@happy97 it took a while but our cat is ok with our dog now. We made sure she had her own space and can escape from the crazy dog when she needs to and that has helped. We also make sure she gets enough love and attention from us without the dog as well. Dog is 1 now and while they are not best friends (he has way too much energy for her liking) they can happily be in the same room together. Just give it some time 😊
Of course you can successfully introduce cats to a puppy . Some people here are being quite ... extreme.
We introduced puppy to our quite timid adult cat who was horrified for a week or so. She actually refused to come in the house for a while. Within a week or two cat realised puppy wasn't going to eat her and eventually learnt that a sharp smack would stop any playing nonsense. Within 6 months they would curl up together and within a year they became proper friends. They actually became very firm friends and ddog would protect her cat in the garden from the neighbour cats who had previously bullied her badly.
We got a rescue dog when our cat was 8yo. After a few days we found a stair gate with a cat flap in it (on amazon) It was invaluable. The cat could have upstairs as territory but get downstairs when the dog was out (walkies) or when he felt brave. At some point the dog will need freedom out the crate too. It took 2 weeks for the cat to get brave to come down when dog was roaming downstairs. 2 months for them to full establish the power balance (cat at top of course and via a few nose swipes to the dog) and probably 6 months before I would say they were good friends.
Stick with it - they will more than likely work it out. I was quite present with them though, and leave and sit command training with the dog was always exercised in relation to the cat's presence.
Not long, lots of tasty treats and fuss near the puppy (best when puppy was tired and less like to bounce) and they some came around.
They used to fight over her
They were only 8 months themselves though so maybe a bit more adaptable than older cats?
Our old grumpy cat for used to a visiting bouncy retriever puppy after 2 weeks. But just got used to, we kept it so they both had space.
Cats hate change, we’d never get a new sofa if out cat had a vote, but he comes round.
Not a terrier, she's a retriever.
Thank you for the advice!
To clarify - we put pup in crate for short periods several times a day so
cats could sniff her. Other times pup was free and we kept them completely separate.
No, just crated when we were introducing the cats so they could sniff her through the crate. It took a few weeks before they got a bit more comfortable with each other but I’m sure yours will. Cats and dogs in the same family situation will mostly sort it out and end up fine unless you’ve got a terrier type in which case I wouldn’t recommend. My dog will still chase cats outside but adores our two.
Should have said that we got dog when she was a puppy. It will be fine OP.
@Canshopwillshop Was your puppy crated all the time? Mine only is at bedtime so maybe I should change this.
We got our dog when we had our 2 cats aged 5 and 1. We introduced them very slowly as you are - puppy crated so cats could sniff her etc. Within a couple of weeks they were fine and they all curl up together on the sofa now. The cats are boss though!
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