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Has anyone had experience with adding a dog into a previously cat-only household?

I have my two girls presently, and they've never shared a home with a dog, or any animal that they weren't raised with. All my life I've wanted a dog and I've recently considered making that leap.

I know that all cats react differently, so it's hard to judge. ;) Has anyone done this before? If so, how did it turn out? Any advice?

I'm not yet sure that I'm going to try; over the years my cats have always managed to dictate what happens in my life, one way or another! Considering that they're still going through occasional "arguments" that result in Polly spending a few days in the bathroom, it might not be a good time to add another family member. But I'd love to read some anecdotal evidence, if anyone has any!
 

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I've also wanted a dog all my life, but I think my girls would kill me in my sleep. I know many people here have done it successfully, hopefully you'll get some good advice. So you're not moving across the pond?
 

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I don't have dogs in my household, but my cats have interacted with the dogs at my parents' place when I've brought them over for a visit (my childhood pomeranian still resides with my parents, along with two dachshunds).

It really depends on the dog. I strongly recommend any introduction be done on a leash at first, then you can assess how the dog will react to the cats without putting the cats in harm's way. If you plan on adopting from a shelter, you'll probably want to see if you can find a dog that has been homed or fostered with cats, or is listed as "cat-friendly."

My dog-cat introductions went differently for the two different breeds. My pomeranian (who has a history of marked indifference towards other animals) sniffed each cat a few times and then promptly decided they were of no interest to him, and ignored them. The cats hissed and ran away at first, and Apollo growled for a while, but being ignored got them interested, and before long, Apollo was following Sambu around, trying to bat at his tail like it was a cat toy, and Athena got comfortable enough around him to just go about her day.

The dachshunds were a completely different story, and the primary reason I recommend introducing on a leash at first. Being an instinctual hunting breed, they unfortunately saw the cats as prey, and each tried to lunge at them. They kept whining and straining to get at the cats, so I never felt comfortable letting them off the leash around the cats and keep them strictly separated from the dachshunds when we're over at my parents' place.

So it can go either way honestly. A dog that is comfortable with cats, or a dog not prone to chasing other animals, or possibly a puppy young enough to be safely trained around cats, would probably be fine. A dog with a strong hunting instinct that has shown a habit for chasing, and/or killing small furry animals may be potentially problematic.
 

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Oh, I should also add that both my cats were fairly young (Apollo was maybe 6 months, and Athena 4 months) when introduced to the dogs. I don't know how much different the situation is with adult cats.

Hopefully someone else with more experience in this matter than I will have some good advice to offer you!
 

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We fostered dogs when I lived back east and my ex husband's cat seemed to handle puppies best. He was fine (but cautious) with adult dogs but he was a *great* puppy trainer.

I think it depends on the temperament of your cats and how the dog acts when it comes into the house.

He would never smack, scratch or bite the puppies but he had this stare.... he'd back them into a corner and keep them there until they were rescued. If they were quietly playing with a toy he'd come over and lay next to it and just stare at them and they'd leave the toy and slink away. He was such a monster but it taught them such great respect for cats.

It was a great thing when we got our Alaskan Malamute. She was my first northern breed and I was really concerned about the high prey drive and possible aggressiveness but with his training and our socialization she was a giant teddy bear. If a small dog/cat ran from her she'd stop to watch but in the 4 years she lived she'd never give chase and I credit that to Anthony's training and dominance over her.
 

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When Tammy was about 4 years old we got Jive, our rather silly Border Collie dog. They were both 4, their birth dates are actually only 2 weeks apart born in 2000 (I like to call them my Millenium babies). Anyway, border collies are known to a be a lively, intelligent breed who like to 'round up' other animals. Tammy had never lived with a dog before. We brought Jive home and Tammy soon showed him who's boss. In hindsight we didn't really introduce them properly (I blame my parents, I was only 16 at the time) as Jive was kind of just 'plonked down' in front of Tammy. Tammy is a very strong willed cat though, she's not easily phased and is NOT afraid to exert her power. In other words, she growled Jive into submission. Jivey is a big old softy who, it turns out, loves cat... He is obsessed with Tam, he'll watch her intently for hours, he'll stop breathing to listen if he can hear her bell, he always tries to sniff her bum! Tammy spent around 5 years ignoring Jive, she'd sit in the same room and walk by him paying him no attention... But if he tried to chase or round her up, well- he got hit on the nose on more than one occasion. They are now both 10 years old and you could describe them as friends. They are by no means snuggly together, but they'll touch noses and they miss eachother when they go to the kennels/cattery.

So, considering Tammy had never lived with a dog, I'd say she coped quite well. My Uncle has cats and dogs, he has never had a problem. They automatically sort out a pecking order- guaranteed a cat will be at the top!
 

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I have had no problems, and have almost always had both-- at least one of each. :) I know I'm biased, but I credit that to the fact that every dog I've had was a collie. I think that would be true of most gentle breeds.

My collies adopted and nursed a stray kitten. It was a lovely sight. :) They remained great friends into the cat's adulthood.
 

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Oh, I should mention that we rescued Jive from an abusive and neglectful home where he lived with 15 huskies and 5 other dogs. He was a very difficult boy at first and took a LOT of training, on more than one occasion he was aggressive, but only ever towards other dogs. My parents even discussed putting him to sleep as, after 1 year, there was no improvement (he got expelled from dog training school!). But Mum couldn't do it and persevered, now we just couldn't imagine a more loving softy. He was just trying to survive, he knew no different. Even through all that he was NEVER aggressive towards Tammy, or us. We've never seen him snarl or show his teeth. I'm by no means saying all, or even most, dogs will be like this- but it gives hope if such a difficult dog could be introduced to a cat.

This is him now!
 

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We had a dog for 3 years before we got Casie. My parents don't remember how it happened, but Casie put him in his place. He never bugged her after that. When he died, we waited a few months and got Woody. Casie was downstairs when we brought himj home and she just sniffed him and walked away. She never got along with him and we had him for about a year or so when Casie died.

It took Cherry a little while to get used to him. Now she knows where to hide. But they both fight over me, so it's not very good...when I'm not home they are find, though.

Maybe you can have someone bring over a cat friendly dog and see how your cats react?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So you're not moving across the pond?
Alas, not at this time. Work is going very well, and kidling should be moving to the area this summer, so I can't leave in good conscience. Welshman is planning to move here, however, it's just a waiting game. :D

Thanks for the stories, everyone! My biggest concern is with how old the girls are; Mimi is seven and Polly must be nine by now. Polly tends to be pretty set in her ways, so I'm not sure how accepting she would be. I thought it was worth asking about! :) I appreciate all the input!
 
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