Is this really what happens every time we try to introduce our cats and dogs? This week we discuss some ways to integrate the two. Recorded as the WildPaw podcast with Karen Wild and Jon Buscall
‘Fighting like cat and dog?’
How do I introduce my cat to my dog? Often I have had clients with a new dog or puppy and an older cat. Bearing in mind that I have just obtained a new kitten myself, I thought I would go into detail about how the two should be put together, if at all. Are cats and dogs able to get along? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes, no.
First and foremost, no matter what we say here, do not try and introduce them without professional help. I did have a client who held new rescue dog and old family cat nose to nose and ordered them to ‘make friends’ at which point the dog grabbed the cat and sadly killed it outright. Shocking I know, but it really happened! So DO NOT TAKE RISKS. It is far better to take a while over introductions, use a muzzle if necessary, and take things very slowly than to sling them together and hope they get along. I do know of a one-eyed dog that was given that free for all opportunity.
We tend to think of one species as wanting the same as the other species. In other words if we are a die-hard dog owner, we might anticipate that the cat is going to behave and react like our dogs would. Note I say ‘our own’ – don’t forget that every dog and cat is different. It’s based on a whole raft of things from genetic input to early experience and all the learning that has gone along the way. So truly there is no single successful route. This can also be compounded by owning more than one dog, or more than one cat.
Introducing a new dog to an existing dog, or new cat to an existing household cat carries it’s own recommendations too! Don’t assume that just because they are the same species they will get along. And don’t assume that because they are different species they won’t get along. It can be a surprise when the cat leaps effortlessly onto the worktop to chew on the roast chicken that was hitherto out of bounds to any other pet! (quick break in writing this just then, as dog and kitten were just chasing one another up and down my stairs!) Some tips on how to help them get along:
Old cat, new dog (puppy)
BEFORE YOU BRING THE DOG HOME
For the cat: Provide an aerial route of entry and exit for the cat This may include • Putting up shelving • Internal doors or even windows fitted with cat flaps • Use a stairgate
Ensure that the cat has a safe area they can retreat to and be prepared for them to go there regularly. Give the cat some safe places they can go where the dog cannot. For many owners this is upstairs. Many clients tell me the cat retreats upstairs and no longer comes down. This is often a cause for sadness for owners but the cat needs to have safety. Give the cat access to food, water and litter tray! Consider using a pheromone product such as FELIWAY For the dog: A young puppy needs supervision and training.
Do not leave the puppy and cat to just work it out for themselves. This can be enormously stressful for both animals. An older cat knows how to defend itself and will definitely do so. A young puppy has not learned manners yet and unfortunately, ‘crash bang wallop’ of a young pup is not really suitable cat manners. Remember that cats will go to incredible lengths to avoid conflict if they can. Cats do not have the facility to be ‘appeased’ like a dog can. Holding a cat to supposedly ‘calm it’ whilst your dog investigates the cat freely may well end up in some nasty scratches and bites to whoever is holding the cat.
A rescue dog that you do not yet know properly is also a situation that needs treating with great caution and patience. • Use a crate (if dog accustomed to this) • Allow cat to come and go • Keep dog busy and allow them to relax – keep this going in several short sessions per day until your dog is totally relaxed about cat moving around. • Next progress to keeping dog on a lead. A useful way is to teach the puppy or dog an ‘OFF’ command and a Rock Solid Recall – both handouts are on my website DO NOT ALLOW THE DOG TO CHASE THE CAT – a cat will almost certainly RUN and this will set off the dogs prey instinct.
New kitten or cat, old dog
Rescue cats? A lot depends on their history. Sometimes you may not get any background on what the cat is used to. Again, don’t take risks – if things do not go well, seek professional help.
Other topics we cover in the podcast:
Dogs and fireworks.com – how did your dogs cope with fireworks night?
Here are some of the comments we got from the site which reached a huge number of visits over the past few weeks and especially this weekend, and on Nov 5th itself Kathy (from twitter) “Conditioned the foster dog using your fireworks video; no fear at all, even went outside while they were on. Then asked for treats!” Helen (also twitter) “Thanks for the help guys, Naboo calmed down a lot with your tips x” Lisa (owns a 10 month old and an 18 month old dog) “10mth watched some at backdoor & was abit skitty but got over it- yey for dogsandfireworks.com!” I mentioned the site got record number of hits on Bonfire Night itself. What might this mean? I am not sure if people are realising for first time that their dogs are stressed – or whether they didn’t know you can help in advance. Either way our next target is for New Years fireworks which will of course include our friends in the US. So get preparing, get your bits and pieces together and enjoy fireworks without stress!
DISCOVER DOGS – Earls Court, London
Discover Dogs, organised by the Kennel Club, London’s biggest event on four legs, is returning to town on 13 and 14 November as the grand finale of London Dog Week. Children under 12 can get into this doggy extravaganza for free, making this a day out that the whole family can enjoy. Discover Dogs is a unique platform to celebrate dogs in our society and educate dog lovers about more than 200 breeds of pedigree dog, which will be at the event for visitors to meet, greet and discover.
Australia has added more dogs to their list… Chihuahua and Pomeranians! Yes, Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are on the list of Queenland’s 100 most menacing dogs. Controversial new state laws have added these small breeds to their list effectively declaring them as mencaing breeds. This is aimed to reduce the growing rate of dog attacks in the state. The news report states that only 110 dogs have actually been declared menacing in Queensland! Nevertheless authorities predict that this number will rise as awareness of the new laws spreads. And yes, larger breeds such as Germans Shepherds are on the list, but it appears as we expected, really, that these are not the only dogs causing fear. Under the new law a dog can be declared menacing if they cause fear in a person – which can uinclude rushing at a person from the other side of a fence. Other breeds on the list are shar pei, maltese-crosses, a fox terrier-cross and a poodle-cross. Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/chihuahua-pomeranian-on-queenslands-top-100-dangerous-dogs-list/story-e6frfkvr-1225948875890#ixzz14gQW4qx2
Is it too early to mention the C word (Christmas?) Intellidogs Advent Calendar is coming!
We are looking for donors for prizes, sponsors and of course fascinating doggy related Christmas stories. If you have a favourite charity or if you represent a doggy or pet charity we want to hear from you. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org Next week’s podcast will include Tips on Mud Management News and hopefully some interviews from Discover Dogs