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can cats and dogs be introduced?????????

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Help!!!! I moved my cats (ages 5 and 6 years) in with my fiance' at the end of June. The older one has finally started coming out of the back room...but we can not get them to stay in the same room without LOTS of fighting.
the younger cat is too scared to even come out.
it's been over a month!!!!
any ideas (except getting rid of my fiance' ) would be sooooooo appreciated!!!!!
post #2 of 9
Hi, I dealt with this at some length in how I got my older Beduin sheep-dog to accept a new kitten (I will try to remember which thread it was on). The best thing is, of course introducing kittens to older dogs or puppies to older cats. When you try to combine two adult populations, it is a far more difficult situation. It takes constant vigilence, and even the need for 2 different escape-poor fenced areas, with careful control of both populations inside the house.

Please give very specific descriptions of your exact set up, ages of animals, and the hours of the day you can be in direct control of things (do you both work outside the home? Do your work times overlap or are they the same? Are you willing to invest all of your home-time to this problem for a few months and some of your home-time thereafter?)

There is no quick or easy answer. So please write a very detailed description of each animal, ages, temperament, behavior so far, and how you have been trying to handle it.

It is too flip to say -- get some Bach's Remedy to cool things down. You may resort to that together with behavioral re-training, but I don't think artificial elixers or drugs are a first answer. You have to first get the solutions for the behavioral problems on track.

You both have a very big job ahead of you. The other solution is to give away or put down either the cats or the dogs. I personally would try behavioral retraining or giving animals away to nice homes -- waiting for the right one to come along and putting up with the misery of the situation in the meantme.

As a very first step even before you answer my e-mail, you should designate a room with a door to use to keep cats and dogs absolutely separated. Then we can try to go from there.

The second absolutely necessary step is to make sure the dogs are obedience trained (another time-consuming job) -- that they will come, sit and lie down on command, and that they will drop things they have taken into their mouths or stop barking or chasing on command. An older dog who has had a lifetime of being taught by instinct and other dogs to chase and bark and snap at cats is going to take special care to retrain. They may never be 100 percent inhibited against these behaviors when you are not at home. We can talk about this later.

I am waiting to hear from you.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
oh Catherine, thanks for your reply.

Tigger, 6 years old. He's my oldest cat. Prior to this his temperment was typical cat. Loved to be petted, was friendly with anyone. For the most part he was only around me and my other cat, so he led a pretty relaxed life.

Ali, my precious baby, who is 5 years old. She's 1/2 siamese and has always been afraid of anyone besides me and Tigger. She would always hide under the bed if people came over...only if they were there for several hours would she stand off and watch things, rarely coming to anyone. but as soon as they were gone it was normal and she was a regular lap cat.

Katy, the dog, a jack russell terrier, a little over a year old. obedience not even in her vocabulary unfortunately. wants to chase anything that moves. I don't think that she intends to do anything but play, but she isn't capable of understanding that the cats aren't interested.

Glen, my fiance', 42 years old...not very patient with obedience training. He took Katy to a 6 week course (1 day a week)in obedience when Katy was about 5-6 months old.

Is it too late to try Katy in another obedience class?

We both work 8-5...and once we are married (Sept 8th) we will be there regularly at night and on weekends. Right now, Glen is the only one there every night.

the cats are currently in the spare bedroom and are able to roam the house during the day, while Katy is kept outside. they both come out at that point and live "normal" lives.

once we come home, ali stays behind the bed and will only come out if i shut the door. tigger will come out anywhere as long as he doesn't hear katy's collar.

Katy doesn't go looking for the cats but will chase them if they move in front of her.

I think I answered all your questions...we are willing to try anything.
post #4 of 9
Oh, dear, In my experience (and also by reputation) terriers are the very worst possible dogs to have in a family with cats. There are marvellous exceptions to the rule, and we will hope that Katy is one of these. No, she is not at all too old for obedience training. And the courses that meet once a week require practice every day to "take" successfully. Get in touch with your local American Kennel Club chapter and find out when they hold classes. You may have to be the one to do the training if you very-soon-to-be husband finds it difficult to stick to it.

I would take advice from the teacher of the course. If you have the money, you can turn to a professional trainer to keep Katy for a while and do the training for you, but it is very expensive to do it that way, and really you need to be able to work with your own dog in the end anyway.

A terrier MUST NOT CHASE! They are bred to kill small animals. The fact that terriers usually no longer work in their "professions" does not mean that their hardwiring has disappeared. However, they are loyal dogs and very trainable and clever, and if they are well bonded, they would almost die rather than disappoint or disobey you. So you have a dog with the right hardwiring for being extremely trainable.

I would keep the animals very separate until after your wedding, and then I would instantly sign up for training with the first obedience class.

This is one of those situations where you have to chose between a mangled or dead cat and the tedium of obedience training. I know which course I would choose and I imagine you would do the same. I wish you very good luck in persevering.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your honest opinion. I pray that all turns out well. I would have to give the cats away before I could watch them get hurt or suffer in a life of solitude. They are, afterall, my precious babies.
We will continue to keep them seperate until the wedding. And then will begin obedience training right away for Katy AND Glen.

I never thought anything would ever seperate me from my kitties...sure adds to the wedding stress.

Again, thank you for sharing and I will be back for sure after the honeymoon and let you know how things are going.

post #6 of 9
Just wanted to tell you that it IS possible for cats and terriers to co-exist peacefully. It does take a lot of effort and training, but it can be done. I have two Australian Terriers and now two cats, and everything's good. My older Aussie does have a rather high prey drive, but fortunately he is also a very sensitive dog, and thus always tries to keep me happy so he is very easy to train in most cases. Even after about a year of training, he on occasion still did start chasing a cat if they ran past him, but a reminder from me and he came back to me and now half a year later, he doesn't chase. The younger one never did. But still, they'll never be 100% reliable, which is why I always keep the dogs and the cats separated when left alone, and I'm not there to supervise.
post #7 of 9
Just an afterthought -- If you are going away for a honeymoon, make sure that whoever is left to care for the animals is very well instructed about how to keep the animals separate. You may want to designate one room (which two cats, it has to be a larger one), cat-proof it as well as possible (for example, all breakable temporarily banished to cupboards and drawers, the bed stripped and all mattresses or cushions bundled in HEAVY plastic and then covered with lots of blanket, rug, or cloth material to give the cats something comfortable to be on), toys on the floor to give them something to do (be sure they are not the kind the cats can swallow, because they can have an emergency and no one will be around to help), and a litter box, non-tippable water dish, etc. Then just keep them in that room.

A better alternative might be to have someone take the dog home with them for the duration and let the cats have the whole house to roam in. I have friends here who went to Europe (the whole family) for a month, and they followed this advice carefully, placing the dogs with a friendly relative and leaving the cat-proofed house (all 7 rooms!) to the cats, with a neighbor to come in every day to feed and water the cats and sit an talk to them a little, and also to check the level and level of disagreeableness of the litter box. The cats were quite comfortable, althought extremely glad to see their family (even though they had some old socks lying around that belonged to different famly members), and the dogs were in the same state -- comfortable, pampered, but glad to see the family. It all worked out very well.

All this is pretty obvious, but sometimes one forgets every single potential problem that can occur without a human presence in the house. (for example, if the cats can run in the house, and if you have a stove top that uses natural gas, turn off the gas at its source. My cats seem to think it is funny to shove on the gas burner levers.)

Try to find a solution that will lead to a happy homecoming after a happy honemoon.

And congratulations in advance and best wishes for every happiness.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
We had already decided to board the dog at her favorite place (she likes it so much I wanted to suggest they just keep her ) for the whole week. And the cats will have free reign of the house (as they do everyday). We will be home 3 of the days without the dog so hopefully the kitties will have a chance to realize their mommy is around for good and maybe feel a little more at ease.

thanks for all your advice!!!!
post #9 of 9
Please do not give up - no matter how long it takes! Just make absolutely sure the cats are safe. The dog must be very firmly trained and it can be done. Our family has introduced many cats and dogs that later became great friends. Some adapted as quickly as a week or two! But my brother has been trying for 2 years and the cat and dog still avoid each other, but there's no fighting. I think they didn't try hard enough to train the dog. We actually find it easier (and quicker) than introducing two cats!! With our last introduction (a Labrador), we kept the dog on a leash while around the new cat for about a week (or as long as it takes) and every time she so much as perked up her ears (like when they see a squirrel or something), we would yank the leash and scold her. She got the message pretty quickly that the new cat was not like a squirrel. Of course, some dogs are more difficult. Our dog had other cats in the house that she loved, but when I brought the new one home in the carrier, she went absolutely nuts - totally unexpected!!

I have known people that give up too easily and it's sad. I guess they're kind of like children. You have to teach them that these are going to be the rules and they will learn to live with it! Just don't compromise your cats' safety.

Hope this helps.
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