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Hi,

We have an approximately 7 year old spayed DLH (likey a maine coon mix, based on looks and personality). She came to us as a stray 5 years ago, via a neighbor who worked at the local shelter and thought we'd be a good match for her (quiet and no kids). She came scrawny, matted, hostile, and afraid of everything. Five years later, she's a totally different cat: sleek, talkative, confident (okay, arrogant :lol: ). Really a great, loving, lap kitty. Velcro cat.

We'd had friends who visited with dogs, and she wasn't good with them as a rule, save a quiet elderly dog owned by my best friend. They had a few hiss-and-spit moments, and the dog would just sigh and ignore it. They eventually learned to hang out in the same room quite peacefully.

This year, we decided to adopt a dog (my husband is a dog person), so we did our research, picked a few breeds likely to do well with cats, and decided to wait and see if a shelter dog appeared that would work for all of us. Meantime, the vet said it should be no problem as long as we took it slow and easy on the introductions. Last month, a 10 year old neutered male sheltie ended up at the local shelter after the death of his owner. He had some minor health issues (fatty tumors, obesity, some small dental problems), but was otherwise a sweet, slow, quiet dog who had lived with cats before. After much soul-searching and discussion, we decided to bring him home.

The initial introductions were slow, on-leash affairs, and went very well (dog has his own bedroom with baby gate, the cat's food is upstairs where the dog can't go, and they are totally segregated during meals). After a couple of weeks, we started short off-leash, very supervised time together. They ignored each other beautifully. The cat would meow politely when she wanted to get past him, he'd move obligingly. The dog has been nothing but submissive and respectful toward the cat. The only problems we had were a couple of occasions when he wasn't paying attention and almost stepped on the cat, which she corrected with either a loud meow or a small hiss and gentle paw tap. We thought it was going great, as did the vet and our shelter-worker neighbor. I did have one friend who was of the "toss 'em together and let 'em fight it out" school, but no way was I taking that advice.

Until this weekend. The cat had a major hairball issue over the weekend, and got rather hostile to the dog being near her (I understood this, and took pains to give the cat lots of space). But since she cleared the hairballs this morning, she's been downright bullying to the dog. Wherever he is (usually sitting quietly and minding his own business), she goes there and forces him to move by either meowing loudly or hissing and swatting him (he cries and runs away). I stopped her from doing it this morning with a gentle verbal request to "leave doggie alone," but neither animal listens to my husband well, so we've had a few spats while he was in charge of the animals. As yet, I've not resorted to things like water spray or harsh verbal correction, as neither animal responds well to that.

Is this just a passing phase due to an under-the-weather cat, or should I be looking for patterns getting established? The cat is #1 priority, as she's adopted me as some kind of momma-kitty, but I don't want her terrorizing the poor dog (who is as sweet as can be). I know he hasn't been bugging her because they've been 100% supervised together this whole time.

Also, the cat has a vet appointment later this week to make sure that her excessive shedding is (as I suspect) stress-related from the new dog, and not something more serious...I have groomed her a LOT, and there's no end to the fur (not patchy fur loss, just overall shedding). I'll make sure at that time that there are no hidden ailments that could be making her ill-tempered. She's not doing any of the things that I'd expect an overly-stressed cat to do, like elimination problems, scratching, and no redirected aggression at us after dog spats (in fact, she wants love and patting almost immediately, and it's a fine line to walk between reinforcing her aggressiveness and comforting her).

I'm wondering if I should be really concerned here, or will this likely pass? I've scaled back the dog/cat interaction to leashed and gated for the next couple of days (until the vet visit) to see if she just needs some extra time and space to feel better. I really would like this to work out, as this dog has suffered enough loss recently, and I've poured years of time and energy into socializing the cat and working to reduce her fears. I'd settle for them ignoring each other, I don't expect them to be buddies, but I guess what I want to know is at what point should I be thinking about throwing in the towel? I don't want to give up too easily, but also don't want to stress two innocent animals because I'm too stubborn to see when it's not working.

Thanks for listening to this ramble...obviously, I'm very concerned to do what's best for both animals (I've been told on more than one occasion that I worry WAY too much about it <sigh>)
 

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Welcome!!!!!!!!!!! Your story sounds an awful lot like mine. About 2 years ago, we adopted Howie- a 12 year old cocker spaniel mix, and brought him home to our 2 cats, who had never been around a dog. We had several incidents like yours, and the first couple weeks were an adjustment for everybody, but you should see them now!! Everyone gets along, and we finally have the dog we wanted :) Thank you for adopting an elderly pet-I think they are the best kind :D I know everything will work out for you.

Here is Howie and his kitty friends, today:



See? it will work out :)
 

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Thanks!

I am just concerned that things will get worse rather than better. My nerves are pretty much shot at this point from worrying. I'm pretty sure that Assumpta (the cat) was badly abused before she came to us; they'd about decided that she was unadoptable because of her hostility (which I don't get, because the night I brought her home, she sniffed around a bit, ate a big bowl of food, and fell asleep in my lap...*this* is an unadoptable cat?). I'm pretty sure she also had some bad dog experiences as a stray, so I'm worried that I'm just bringing that all back <sigh>. Right now, I feel like the worst cat servant in the world.

And BTW, adopting the older dog was a principle for us...he was also on the way to "unadoptable" due to his tumors. Right before we made this decision, my brother-in-law had told us of his plans to breed a mediocre-quality young chocolate lab he just bought "so they could make their $400 purchase price back," :evil: despite my strongly worded "for every puppy you make, a dog dies in a shelter" speech. My husband offered to write him a $400 check on the spot *and* pay for the spaying, but to no avail. So when we saw this little Sheltie (okay, not little, he weighs twice what he should, though he's on a good diet now and is losing weight slow and steady), we decided that he was exactly what we were looking for. He's a doll. So is the cat. I don't expect bosom buddies, just want a peaceful tolerance. :)

I think I just need someone to tell me that I'm not royally messing this up, KWIM? Thanks!

Oh, I wish I'd had a camera a few days ago when the cat and dog were sitting side by side in the kitchen watching my husband make a sandwich, both following every move with great interest, united in a mission :p
 

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It sounds like you and I see exactly eye to eye :D I'll try to give you some more reassurance- One of my cats, Ashley, we had adopted from the shelter(of course) and she had a bad history. She was about 3 when we got her, and had already had several litters of kittens. She had also been abused very badly and was scared to death of everyone and everything. Five years later,she is now my little princess :) She still flinches when you reach toward her head/face, and dissapears when anyone comes over. I felt AWFUL when we brought Howie home, Ashley was under our bed for weeks 8O Now, she and Howie are actually friends! She is the only cat he allows to use his water and food dishes :lol: So just try to hang in there, and let us know how it goes.


Sorry, I am addicted to pictures :roll: Here is Ashley:

 

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I think both your much loved kitty and your new dog can count their lucky stars that they have such loving, careful, attentive human "parents"!

I too have an exceedingly confident, self-assured, spoiled, "petted darling" of a cat. Yoda is an 8 year old Oriental Shorthair. Since the age of 2 he has lived happily with a mild mannered Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. About a year ago, I decided to adopt a greyhound. The young male greyhound I adopted, Piper, was considered "cat safe" and has proven to be a real sweety with Yoda.

After a few weeks of fridgid aloofness, Yoda decided to put the new dog in his place. He didn't resort to swatting or spitting. He actually assaulted poor Piper as he lay peacefully napping in his bed. Yoda races through the house for fun and on one of his passes through the livingroom, he landed hard on poor Piper 8O, who leapt up with a startled yelp. To drive home his point, Yoda repeated the assault later that evening. Having established his position of superiority to his satisfaction, he has essentially ignored Piper since. Perhaps as soon as your cat feels that he has established himself as the boss, things will settle down at your house.
 
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