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Kittens, Part I: The dog (long!)

October 13th, 2005, 02:53 PM
Okay, I have a quandary. I have two new kittens who are about eight weeks old. I also have a fourteen year old lab mix, Ebony. However, Ebony lives at my parents' house as she would never be happy in my apartment. (She can't manage the stairs, for one thing.) Still, I want her and my kitties to be friendly so that I can take them over with me if I ever need to housesit or something.

Anyway, I had the kitties over there for a few days and Ebony is very excited about them, but good about not bouncing at them or chasing them. The problem is she keeps whining at them. She didn't the first two days they were there, but now she starts whimpering as soon as she sees them.

I tried making her sit and lay down, but I use those commands sparingly these days because her arthritis makes it hard for her to sit unless she is standing "just right". Anyway, she would sit/down and keep whimpering. Tried "quiet", which is a command she knows, but that would only keep her quiet a minute.

The kittens aren't really afraid of her, but her size and noise are enough to keep them from getting too close to her face. They are free to "get away" from her by going into the bathroom (the door is only ajar enough for them, not the dog), under the bed, or on any part of the hardwood floor. Ebony will only walk on rugs because of her arthritis. I think they'd be very friendly towards her if she would just keep quiet and stop trying to get up and examine them.

The first two days I was there, Ebony was curious but quiet. I just wish she would be again! She really loves them, though . . . Sometimes when she was standing by the bed, peering under to check for kittens, they would come out from under the opposite end to take a look at her wagging tail . . . When she looked over her shoulder and noticed them batting at it, she actually lowered it so it was wagging lower than normal to give them a better target! And she just stood there wagging until they lost interest. :)

I thought about making her leave the room the kittens had access to whenever she started whining . . . Do you think that would work? Also, do mother dogs ever call their puppies with whimpers? Ebony is spayed, but is acting very motherly towards the kittens and she doesn't whimper when they're both near her, only when one is where she can't walk or "out of sight." Her happiest moment was when they fell asleep on her doggy bed and she could give them a good sniff and lick. ;)

Currently the kittens are back at my apartment and Ebony is very depressed that they're gone.


Lucky Rescue
October 14th, 2005, 06:20 PM
I'm not understanding what the problem is? Is it the whining(?) because it sounds like Ebony is very nice with the kittens.

She only whines when she can't get to them? That's probably frustration and excitement.

The kittens would get over any fear of her in a short time, but unless they are going to live with her, they may become afraid of her as they get older and they don't see her very often. Plus cats don't like changes, so taking them to your parents' place will become stressful to them as they mature.

Have your parents considered getting Ebony her own kitten? :)

October 14th, 2005, 10:31 PM
I agree with Lucky, having observing my brother's chocolate lab with kittens and cats. Whimpering is from frustration, not anything else. And it IS very stressful for kittens at that age to be uprooted too often. Maybe your folks could get the dog a kitten of her own?

October 18th, 2005, 05:44 PM
You have a 14-year-old dog who lives in a different place, and 2 8-week-old kittens...hopefully Ebony has lots of time left but realistically it sounds like she's doing just fine for whatever time she will have with her new 'cousins'.

For what it's worth, my sister and brother-in-law did the same thing when their 2 cats were kittens, wanted to take them along on family visits or whatnot. Problem is, cats are not like dogs - dogs are more into their people and are just not stressed much (usually) by moving around, visiting, overnights etc. Cats are way more into their physical environment, and I don't think it's in their best interest to bring them places unless it cannot be avoided. Myself, I'd say they will be MUCH happier, much less stressed, and much safer left at home. You can go and spend time with them, visit a couple times a day. If it's too far, you can get a friend or neighbour to visit, feed them etc. With my dogs, I'll bring them almost anywhere (that I can), for an overnight or whatever, but with my cats removing them from their home is a last resort...just not enjoyable for them.

October 18th, 2005, 05:48 PM
Thanks guys . . . I'm not worried about the kittens, they take it all in stride, but more about Ebony's worries. But I took the kitties for a short visit to Auntie Ebo after they went to the vet (for checks ups and medicine for Remy's cold) and Ebony was great this time . . . She just peered at their carrier while they dozed. :)

Phantom (the cat) acted like there was a bomb in the carrier, though. Poor kitty, she's such a spooky little thing!


October 19th, 2005, 12:48 PM
I have to disagree with the 'cats get stressed when in new places' comments.

My boyfriend acquired an 8 week old kitten last year around this time. He'd never really had his own pet, never mind a kitten, and thus had no idea of the do's and don'ts. So, he took his little Tiger everywhere with him. He got her a harness and leash and took her everywhere, pet stores, visits to my parents house, driving to pick up his kids at their mothers, family or office gatherings, soccer games and practices, etc. All that to say, if she hears car keys, she comes running, when you open the door, she runs out to the vehicle. She loves to go in the car and is not scared or uncomfortable looking when we go somewhere new.

I have to say, she is much more independent than your average dog is, but is also much more social than your average cat is (she greets people at the door). She needs to be in her harness and on a leash because her recall sucks, but she will sit and stay for a moderate amount of time if asked to.

October 19th, 2005, 04:05 PM
Your BF's cat is NOT usual, far from it. There are cats who are exceptions to any rule but overall, cats are generally not good travellers and very few enjoy it. I had one (hand-raised) who was OK with it, from having travelled so much as a kitten, but by about age 2 even he didn't like travelling. Because there are occasional cats who tolerate travel well doesn't change the fact that the vast majority are stressed by it.

October 19th, 2005, 04:19 PM
Ok, so maybe Tiger is special, (she isn't the first cat I've heard of who travels with her owner though) but shouldn't the kittens be allowed to see if they like travelling?

I mean, maybe its like people saying that small dogs aren't house trainable and are stupid... because their mother in law had a small poodle who piddled on the floor and was never taught the meaning of the word sit. Its easier to grow into a stereotype than to break free from it.

October 19th, 2005, 05:00 PM
So far they dislike being shut in their carrier (although they are fine with the carrier itself--I leave it open at home and they like to play in it), but are unphased by new places . . . even the vet's. (Even after the second visit, when they knew about the Thermometer of Doom!) Once in a while I'm going to go to the vet's and just sit in the waiting room with them for a bit so they don't freak out when it's check up time. My parents' cat, Phantom, is so scared of the vet's that last year she actually hurt her tooth biting the wire door on the front of her carrier. :(


October 19th, 2005, 05:38 PM
I guess it's personal view, is instead of getting a pet and trying to change it into something it isn't, why not just accept that cats don't generally travel well or cats are obligate carnivores and not designed to eat vegetarian diets, or hard-core working-type herding dogs aren't matched to city living. That's not a potshot at the person with the cattledog but just an easy example. I honestly feel that despite that a rare few cats may actually do OK with travel, for most it's an unneccessary stress that's more about what we want than what they want. I think the fact that we rarely see cats who go out with their owners as a dog would supports the fact that in general, they don't like it. I know there are lots of cat owners who would do it if they could.

But I also don't like debarking on the basis if you can't have barking, get a quiet breed (or a cat or rabbit), and declawing on the basis that cats have claws and if you want a cat it's unfair and inhumane to have that conditional upon removal of their claws.

This IS just my opinion. But it's based on my own values as well as many years doing rescue, where I consistently see pet-owner relationships in distress based on the owner trying to make the dog into what they want - make the round peg fit into the square hole. Matching dog to applicant is huge in the rescue I'm with for this reason - you can't change compatability after the fact, I have to make sure the dog I'm adopting them is going to match their lifestyle, environment, etc. If someone was really set on bringing their pet everywhere, I'd probably suggest a rat to be honest - they are tailor made for that and almost all would LOVE it!

October 19th, 2005, 06:09 PM
I have to agree with you on most points doggirl. I'm not saying we should force the round peg into the square hole, more like give the peg a chance to find out if its shape before painting it round. Does that make sense?

I also should stress that a cat that's never left its house, likely will be very upset if you take it places, but a kitten who's grown up going everywhere might enjoy doing so for a long while. But rest assured, that as soon as the cat stops like going places, we aren't going to force the issue!

October 20th, 2005, 10:56 AM
I'll be happy if my kitties at least tolerate going places. Some travel is inevitable since they're going to have vet check-ups once a year (or is it twice a year?) I never want to put them through the terror that Phantom has, where she's clawing frantically at the bars of her carrier, biting them, and finally has to be literally shaken out of her carrier at the vet's. It seems to me that the best way to prevent that is to show the kitties that not every trip results in someone sticking a thermometer in unpleasant places.

Plus I'm often called upon to housesit and dogsit for my parents. (My dog lives at my parents' house, as I have a second-floor apartment where she couldn't make it up the steps.) If I'm dogsitting, I want to be at my parents' house, as Ebony is old, arthritic, and usually has to go potty in the middle of the night. So if at all possible, I want to get my kitties familiar enough with my parents' house that I can take them over there for a few weeks, rather than leaving them at my apartment and constantly driving back and forth between them and Ebony, leaving them alone all night.

Anyway, so far the only part they don't like is not being allowed to roam freely in the car (which of course I won't let them do because it's dangerous.) Booster especially likes to explore new places . . . At the vet's, he jumped off the table and wanted to go through the door to the backroom where he could hear the dogs barking and cats mewing.


October 20th, 2005, 11:20 AM
I'll be happy if my kitties at least tolerate going places. Some travel is inevitable since they're going to have vet check-ups once a year (or is it twice a year?)


Then keep taking them 'fun' places and it shouldn't be a problem in the future. :thumbs up Check ups are at least once a year, more if they get sick or eat something funny, or have to be 'fixed'.