cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry) - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
 
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cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

Hi;

I am brand new here and really hoping you can help me out!

I have a 14 month old lab who is very high drive. However, I have always considered him cat safe, as he interacts appropriately with my parents two older cats.

Fast forward to bringing my four month old kitten (Elsa) home. She has a very shy personality but is coming out of her shell with me quite nicely. However, she is frightened of the dog and hisses/ growls at him. This sets the dog off and he barks and lunges at her. They were familarised through a bedroom door with each other's scent/ sounds. I've tried introducing them with the dog on the leash and with the dog in his crate. My last attempt ended with an upset dog, terrified kitten, and very bloody hands.

I don't ever want to be the person who gives an animal up (she is from a local rescue) but Elsa can't live the rest of her life in a bedroom either. The noise the dog makes is an issue in my living situation as well. I only considered her personality with respect to how she would interact with me, as I considered the dog cat safe is any situation. This may have been a mistake but I am commited to making this work!

Thank you so, so much for your help!

edited to add: the dog does not mind the cat until she reaches her 'saturation point' and hisses/growls at him...i truly would not have brought a cat into my life if i didn't consider him cat safe prior
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 11:28 PM
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Re: cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

How very upsetting! Sad as it is, some dogs just don't like cats, or just bark to "talk." Either way, Elsa is sensitive, and not able to deal with the lab's barking and lunging. It's possible that you will have to return her. I know that's upsetting. I love both dogs and cats, and during my adult life, have always had both. What a difficult decision.

If you want to try something to calm her first, you could try Feliway, or speak to the vet. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this situation.




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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 09:27 AM
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Re: cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

I would seek a professional dog trainer to work on bringing the dog's reaction to the kitten under control. At least, see what they advise. Good luck. I hope you don't have to return her.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 02:43 PM
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Re: cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

When I got Miu, I wasn't 100% sure how she'd react to Rocky the dog. I'm fortunate that they get along. The only thing I was more or less sure was that she was a mellow, friendly cat. I didn't do much socialization when I got Miu home. She's from the shelter and 2 months old when I got her. I assume her age and previous environment helped her to be more mellow. At first, she hissed at him because he was sniffing curiously. I didn't do any of the stuff I was supposed to do like getting blankets of their scents so they get used it, socializing through a door crack. However, four months later, they now have a weird relationship, but it works.

The only thing I can think of is a combination of the advice from the others. You could try Feliway to familiarize her to the surroundings (imagine, she has to get used to both the new place AND a barking/lunging dog.). Also, to train your dog to be more calm in her presence. It could be his barking is scaring her, so she hisses, which gets him excited even more...so more barking... it's like the chicken and the egg.

Perhaps you'll have to confine her for the time being. Giving her the run of the place would be overwhelming for her, possibly confusing. If she has a room to call her own, she may feel a bit safer...somewhere she can run to without the dog getting to her. I had Miu confined in her cat room up until a week or two ago.

I hope this helps. Feel free to give us an update and we'll see what we can do to help!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 03:00 PM
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Re: cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom_to_Elsa
Fast forward to bringing my four month old kitten (Elsa) home. She has a very shy personality but is coming out of her shell with me quite nicely. However, she is frightened of the dog and hisses/ growls at him. This sets the dog off and he barks and lunges at her. They were familarised through a bedroom door with each other's scent/ sounds. I've tried introducing them with the dog on the leash and with the dog in his crate. My last attempt ended with an upset dog, terrified kitten, and very bloody hands.
Sounds like you really forced things, unintentionally of course. The cats must ALWAYS be able to get away from the situation. The second you cause a cat to feel trapped, it's all over.

I recommend that you read through my Jonah Intro thread, chronicling my introduction of rescued kitten Jonah to my 2 resident adult cats and 3 adult dogs.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=62659&hilit=jonah+introduction

If I were you, I would go back -- waaaay back. I would set the cat up in her own room, and after a few days of NO contact to let things settle down, I would set up 3 babygates in the door (see the thread) and go VERY slowly. The key is always to make NO new steps until things are 150% relaxed at the current step. Slow and steady wins this race!!

It will take weeks if you do it correctly, esp. b/c the cat is now already convinced the dog is bad news. Even when you finally get to the point where you open up the room, leave the bottom gate up so the cat can always get to the "safe" room. As long as she knows she can get away, she will be more willing to chance it.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 03:49 PM
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Re: cat/dog interaction help please (long, sorry)

I couldn't agree with Hoofmaiden more. Your cat totally has to have a 'safe' place where she can retreat to if she feels threatened. Giving her that place will help her to calm down and feel more comfortable with her new situation. Yes, it's a hassle, but just bear in mind it'll be temporary. We had no room to confine Miu and finally had to use big cardboard boxes as panels to fill in a door. (It was a room with 2 entrances, one entrance had a door, the other one didn't have one). We kept her in there til we couldn't any longer. Even after your dog and cat get acquainted and settled, your cat should still have some place she can use as a retreat if needed.

And yes, go through Jonah's journal. It's a very interesting read and helped me as well.
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