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Acclimating cats to dog

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Here's my situation, I'm hoping for some words of wisdom from someone!

I used to have two cats and a dog. The cats came first, then the puppy was added. All was happy. The dog grew, everything continued to be happy in Doolittle Cottage. In the past 6 months I lost both cats to old age - 14 and 19. We then got two new cats form a local rescue organization whose owner had recently died of cancer.

They were brought in and *given* the guest room on the first floor of our house. This was almost three months ago. They are basically still living in there and don't interact with us or the dog at all really. Every once and a while when one of them realizes the dog is upstairs asleep on the bed she'll come out and poke around, and I can see furry evidence that thye do come out when we're not around - fur on the curtain above the sink in the kitchen and similar things.

The dog is a sweet, usually gentle black lab/border collie mix weighing about 70 pounds so for a 10 pound cat that's intimidating. Of course she's afraid of EVERYTHING but they don't know that. She would love to play with them but they see that as aggression and they're afraid of her an hide under the bed most of the time. ~sigh~

So, here I am, open to suggestions. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 4
Is your dog schooled in basic obedience? Will she listen to you even when she is excited? If so, then introduce her gradually to the cats (one cat at a time) Make sure the dog is on the lead. Put the cat in a carrier (although a large cage is so much better. I use a large hospitality cage when I introduce cats and kittens to my German Shepherd. I put the cat in the cage (which is one of the largest cages they make) big enough for two shepherds to sleep in and turn around in. I cover the cage with a blanket and then go fetch Kenai, putting her on the lead. The first thing I do, and the only thing I do, is I allow her to see the cat, and to sniff the cage. The cat will usually spit, hiss and flee to the back of the cage. I then turn around and take the dog out of the room, come back and give the cat a special treat, talk to it and let it out. I do this several times a day for a week, or until, on the first contact there is no adverse reaction from the cat.

I then go to phases two where the cat is in the room, not in the cage, and the dog is on the lead. Let the cat see the dog, watch the reaction on both animals, turn around and leave. Come back and reassure the cat feed it let it go out in the house.

The third phase is the dog and the cat in the room and the dog on command only. Kenai's basic commands are sit, stay, and no chase! If the cat runs and she looks like she wants to play- the NO CHASE command will stop her.

My dog has successfully helped raise dozens of orphaned kittens and helped soothe dozens of terrified cats (usually ones who have been abused) It is so funny to me to see big tough ferals spot Kenai Mom in the yard, and run up to her and rub all over her and lay on her. They remember how she helped them and they all love her. My latest three now lay with her, nibble her ears and swat at her paws. She sometimes looks at me and in her eyes I can see her saying "Do I really have to put up with this?" But she does, because this is a safe place for animals and none of my animals get hurt here intentionally and all my animals get along.
post #3 of 4
Hissy's ideas are good.

Also "settle" is a very useful command for the dog: www.doggiedoor.com/settle.shtml
post #4 of 4
Great suggestions Hissy!
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