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Old Cats, New Dog

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum, and I need some help. Here is a long and short of the problem. I have two fifteen year old cats that I have had since they were 8 weeks old. They are a male and a female, both 15 years old, and both have different medical issues, but are generally healthy for their age. They live at my parents' house where I am renting the upstairs while I'm in between apartments. I adopted a dog two years ago that is a very high prey drive breed.  I worked very hard on his training prior to ever having him around the cats at all. Before we moved in, his "down/stay" and "leave-it" commands were extremely reliable. I also made sure he was able to focus on me via eye-contact prior to having him around the cats, that way he would not stare at them and cause them any anxiety. For the first two weeks we only had the dog in the shared part of the house for a few hours a day, always on a leash. We made it so that both the dog and the cats have their own private space within the house where the others cannot go. Also, the "dog's space" is a part of the house the cats never used to go in anyway so they didn't have any space taken away from them. We used nurturecalm collars for the cats to help them adjust to the dogs presence. Turns out the dog isn't a problem at all, he never chases them, barks at them, stares them down, etc. when he gets excited when people come home we bring him to "his space" so that he isn't too exuberant around the cats. Buttercup (the female cat) has adjusted VERY well, she has even been known to curl up in his dog bed with him. She follows him around the house. Pepper (the male) on the other hand HATES the dog. If he is lazing around on the back of the sofa or chairs he is totally calm and doesn't care what the dog is doing, but if he is on the ground with the dog is walking by he will attack him from behind. Claws, but no teeth. If the dog is laying down and Pepper comes in the room he will start stalking the dog in his bed. At first I was okay with either of the cats hissing or displaying a little aggression because I wanted the dog to have a healthy fear of them. But now the dog is terrified of Pepper, he cowers, and averts his eyes... etc. I don't like the my dog is scared, but I'm really concerned about Pepper because he is clearly stressed out. I don't know what to do to help Pepper de-stress, and in-turn protect my dog. 

Pepper has a vet appointment tomorrow for his annual exam/geriatric blood work, etc. 

Any ideas? Questions I should ask the vet? 

post #2 of 7

Some cats just don't like dogs. I have one cat that LOVES dogs, any size or shape. Then there is one that is indifferent to them and could really care less. And then there is the one that absolutely HATES dogs to DEATH. He has two different responses to dogs that I have is stalking, aggressiveness, etc. (like your cat is displaying), or just straight hides from them and won't come out until the dog leaves. He once attacked my friend's german shepherd, but is afraid of my other friend's mini poodle. sigh. I have seen other cats have preferences on WHICH dog. I doubt, at 15, he will decide to change his mind about dogs.


Since you said he only attacks with claws, not teeth, you might consider a regular nail clipping routine. Or putting those soft paw things on his claws.


Good luck!!

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Since he is older and has some arthritis I am wary of trimming his nails as he seems to need them on occasion when climbing on furniture. He doesn't use his scratching post like he used to so his nails are sort of dull anyway, and something I have to "peel" them (I don't know how else to explain it) so that they don't get too long. By just schluffing the outer layers off he still has sharp enough nails to help him climb if he needs to.

post #4 of 7

Clipped nails have never inhibited my kitties. Even our clumsiest cat, Bill, can climb just fine with his nails trimmed short. I have even heard of cats being able to climb trees with soft paws on their claws! You'd be surprised!!

post #5 of 7

Hello and welcome to TCS.


There are a couple of things I suggest you may want to try. First one is trying a few feliway diffusers around the house. These work like the plug in air fresheners, but emit artificial pheromones to help calm some cats. These do take a least a week to start working.


Second, I'd take a step back, and try doing reintroductions between Pepper and the dog following this guide:


Though this article refers to 2 cats, these are still the steps needed to get Pepper comfortable being around the dog. Newcomer will = your dog.


This article may also have additional tips near the end, since the first half deals with the need to have the dog trained, which you have already done.


Hope this helps a bit and good luck to Pepper with his vet visit. :)

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

I can't use the plug-ins as my mother claims they give her headaches (I can't smell it... but she hates them). Does the spray work similarly well? I could try using that if you guys have had good results with it. I brought one of the dogs blankets down for Pepper and put his microwave heating pad under it so he would be inclined to lay on it.. he just peed all over it. He has a history of peeing on things he doesn't like (i.e. my step dads slippers, the floor outside the dogs room, and now the dogs blanket. On the rare occasion he has snuck up into the dogs room he pees all over the dogs bed and in the dogs toy bin. I should mention we have had him checked for urinary issues, including x-rays to look for stones and he is in the clear with all of that. So next I guess I'll try using catnip on the dogs blanket so that Pepper may associate dog smell and catnip together= happiness.

post #7 of 7

The feliway sprays are only good for small areas, blankets, towels, a sleeping spot, ect, and need reapplying frequently. Feliway is odorless to us. The pheromones would be no different then if a cat rubbed it's face along your hand. If you then sniffed your hand, you'd smell nothing. I know normal diffusers used to fill a house with scent could for sure give some (even me depending on the scent) a headache, but have never heard this of feliway diffusers. dontknow.gif So sorry this option is unavailable to you as it really can help. There are spirit essences you could try, like Jackson Galaxy's line.

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