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Cat versus Dog: the Endless Reprisals

gilescooper
August 25th, 2009, 04:28 PM
So, I've got this great silver-haired cat, around a year and a half old now, who just had a litter of kittens about five and a half weeks ago. She's an indoor/outdoor cat, but I've kept her inside for the last month and a half or so, and she has not expressed much interest in going outside anyway. However, we live in a kind of dense suburb (town-houses, duplexes, that sort of thing). There is a bit of suburban wildlife in the area; my roommate and I have seen possums and raccoons and such on the deck out back (we have a third-floor apartment, accessible from the decks on the back). Raccoons like to nest on the roof sometimes. Anyway the point is that there are strange, unknown, and large animals that lurk around what Catherine (that's her name, we call her Cat for short) considers her territory, especially at night.

Now, the kittens are approaching adoption age (I'm aiming at 12 weeks before I let them go). I'm inviting [responsible] friends over to pet them and check them out and see which ones they like, either by color and pattern, or by personality. One of my friends has the special circumstance of having a dog (which I think is about a year and a half old), so I told her to go ahead and bring the dog over to my apartment to see how the kittens and dog would react towards each other. Now, the dog was mildly curious, and the kittens gave a cursory hiss (however they did this the first time they saw me looming over them the day they opened their eyes as well).

Here's the thing though. Catherine, the queen, had a total freak-out. I mean, I heard sounds come out of her that I did not know were possible. She growled like a wildcat. Like a mountain lion, a puma, a cougar, a panther, whatever you call it in your part of the world. She lunged right at the dog. She was not happy with the dog at all!

We sequestered her outside for the rest of the visit, and the kittens and the dog got along fine, so the meeting served its purpose, in determining that the kitten will work at her house.

Now, I've searched around a bit and I see plenty of advice for how to handle a possibly aggressive dog when you have a new kitten. But, since my Cat is not at all happy with non-feline, non-primate animals (actually I've only tested humans; I will let you know when any other primates are introduced in the house), I was wondering this:

How do you introduce a larger pet in to a house that already has a highly defensive/territorial feline?

First, let me say that I realize that dumping a large semi-puppy in to a cat's nursery room is pretty stupid and her being defensive is to be expected. Perhaps a better question is:

How do I indicate to my cat that animals that she is naturally scared of are okay, especially when she has already been trained otherwise?
(Specifically, she has learned that larger animals like raccoons and possums are not to be trusted, so why should she trust an even larger, even less-cautious animal like a canine, which is her natural predator?)


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bendyfoot
August 25th, 2009, 04:39 PM
I have to say, I'm surprised that you didn't consider the fact that a young (kitten herself), inexperienced, new mom wouldn't have ten fits to Friday over a strange dog being in the house. What a completely unnecessary trauma for your poor cat!!!

Any introductions between ANY animals need to be slow, gradual, controlled and safe for all parties. Best to sequester each animal in their own space in the house (behind gates or closed doors) for several days to several weeks depending on the personalities of the animals. Gradually, and only when supervised and the larger animal is controlled and the smaller one has space to run and hide if it needs to, allow them to be in the same space as each other. Never just throw two animals in a room together, you're asking for serious vet bills!!! Count yourself very lucky that no one was hurt.

14+kitties
August 25th, 2009, 04:54 PM
Oh that poor little baby mom. :sad: Bringing a dog into the room and plunking it down in the midst of the room near her babies is one of the most traumatic things that could have been done to her. She is in a highly protective mood right now with babies to keep safe and her barely over being a baby herself. And putting her outside as if she was the one who did the wrong thing may have made it worse. The dog should have been removed immediately.
Please take the time to read these web sites. There are plenty more out there about introducing cats to dogs properly.

http://www.thecatsite.com/Behavior/50/Introducing-Cats-to-Dogs.html

http://www.samsmiles.org/catsdogs.html

http://leerburg.com/dog-cat.htm

Just as an offside - seeing as she is an indoor/outdoor - are you planning on having her spayed as soon as her milk dries up? :fingerscr

Jim Hall
August 25th, 2009, 08:39 PM
yah very good sites sorry but a big laugh catherine freaked eh? not suprised

gotta remember to take things from catherines point of view :thumbs up

ps getting her spayed would be a good idea