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Dog and Cat: the honeymoon's over - help!

October 1st, 2006, 02:13 PM
Two months ago we adopted a 3 year old husky/shepherd/lab mutt (Maggie):dog: , and already have a 6 year old was-a-feral-kitten cat (Bo):cat: who is pretty touchy about new things. We picked Maggie because she was supposed to be good with cats.

The original meeting went pretty well, better than we had hoped. Bo hissed, and Maggie played submissive, freezing and turning her head, being as non-threatening as possible. After that, Bo pretty much ignored Maggie, and she would avoid him at all costs. Pretty funny seeing an 80lb dog run from a 12lb cat who just wanders into the room. Lately, they have started sniffing at each other and walking away. But then there's the last few days...

*A couple of times Maggie has taken a few steps towards Bo, causing him to get defensive - arched back, hissing. She backs off then.
*Once, Bo walked between Maggie and her stuffy toy (which was on the floor, 5ft away), and she growled at him.
*Yesterday Maggie growled and it turned out that Bo was coming up behind her as she lay on the kitchen floor.
*Friday Bo approached her bowl while she ate (dumb cat!) and she growled again. Luckily Bo gets the hint of the growling and leaves.
She is not food protective with people at all - anyone can stick their hand in and take it. Same with toys.

They have also done the sniff and walk away thing, so it's not all negative.

So, my question for all you expert people is - how should we deal with this behaviour? Give the dog heck, give the cat heck, give them both heck? Ignore it and let them sort it out, or would that leave it to escalate? Is this sort of behaviour to be expected now that they are getting more comfortable with each other?

October 1st, 2006, 04:56 PM
first off i wouldn't call myself and expert i just go by expeirence. i have two cats and a dog. it has been two years and only one of the cats have accepted the dog but only on her terms. i ALWAYS supervise their interactions and there is never toys or food allowed. there could be adverse reactions from both sides if and in a way i am more worried about the dog getting hurt, cats are fast. i have a bedroom that the cats food is kept in because they pick all day but daily feeding for both the cats and dog are done at the same time. i have always fed the cats let the dog know she is at the bottom of the pack and the cats come before her in rank. once the dog is done her bowl goes away and the cats food gets put in the room upstairs that the dog is not allowed access. As for toys dog is also none food aggresive........i can puts my hand in her food.....but she does growl over toys as yours does.............therefore no toys when the cats are down. they can have enough fun with each other why add the hassle of toys. like i said i just go on experience...............and i watch the body language of both animals. i hope in some way this can help.

October 1st, 2006, 05:19 PM
don't give either of them heck. this sounds NORMAL to me. you've had this dog for 2 mths. she will need MUCH MUCH more time to adjust to the family (namely, Bo).

all the things Maggie has done, aren't that alarming. The cat snuck up on her, got between her toy, came up while she was eating.... seems to me Maggie was warning Bo in a very appropriate way and Bo got the message.

You added a new member to your "family pack" and they are trying to work out the pecking order and each other's space. I certainly wouldn't trust the new dog with the cat, unsupervised. But I do think you should continue to let them interact (supervised) and as long as there is no fighting, chasing, or hurting, let them figure out their boundaries.

October 1st, 2006, 06:24 PM
Thanks for the responses! I feel relieved to know it's not unexpected behaviour. I just didn't want to ignore it if we should do something. So we'll just continue to keep an eye out, and put the dog's stuffy away until playtime.

The cat does eat and sleep in rooms that the dog's not allowed into (den and bedroom, we have a baby gate), but the dog's food is in the dining room ('cause of the mess!). Hopefully Bo got the message and will stay away from Maggie at supper time.

At least their relationship is progressing! Maggie's been a great addition to our "pack".