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Need Advice With Cohabitation- Cat + Dog

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Wrathlorien, Nov 25, 2021 at 10:10 AM.


  1. Wrathlorien

    Wrathlorien PetForums Newbie

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    So, through various circumstances, and not really of my own desire, I've ended up taking in another cat. His name is Russel. He's been passed along a few families, to my knowledge. Last one before me was my niece, she ended up breaking up with her partner and moving out of their apartment, so she could no longer take case of him. Nobody could bear giving him to a shelter, so I ended up taking him in, much to my reluctance.

    Now, I've raised a lot of cats. More cats than most people have known in their lives. I'm very good with them and I can read even subtle body language. So this little guy isn't a problem. He already trusts me a lot and I've already got a handle on his quirks. Plus he's not the first cat I've adopted, so I know how to break the ice between him and my other cats.

    No, the problem here is my mothers dog. My mother bought a Jack-chi (Jack Russell/Chihuahua) about a year ago. This dog is the biggest terror of a dog I've ever known. I've had other dogs in my life before that have passed away. Two big mutts and a Greyhound/Doberman mix. Those dogs were all increadibly well behaved, and they were so friendly with cats that you'd find the dog and cat grooming each other fairly often. But this little terror is like a crackhead. He has limitless energy, a single minded devotion towards whatever thing, usually a toy, catches his interest, and he doesn't understand being told off. He can actually get snappy if you try to be rough with him as well. I'm currently sporting a plaster on my right index finger from a bite yesterday. (And one on my ear from the cat nearly putting its claw clean through. Don't ask, lol, yesterday was eventful.)

    Now, this little brat, named Pickle, is fine with all my other cats. We raised him from a puppy and they were here before him, so they fairly peacefully coexist. (Unless he's messing with a toy and disturbing the peace.) But this new cat... he reacts to it like he does when he sees a stranger cat on the garden fence. He's gets so excited that he starts visibly shaking, and he wants to run straight to him. As to what he'd do if he got close to him, I don't know. They've had one meeting so far, and it ended with the dog getting his nose scratched and the cat climbing up the curtains. After that, I had to isolate the cat in my room with me last night and, no exaggeration, he's been at my door, sniffing, barking, squealing, all night long. I didn't exactly get much sleep.

    And honestly, it doesn't stop there. I don't believe his reaction is entirely just because it's a new creature he's never met before. Because this poor, sweet cat has the unfortunate circumstance of having a meow that sound exactly like a squeaky toy. You know, the kind of toys he spends every day mindlessly obsessing over? It's uncanny. I've never heard a meow like it. So I genuinely think that his meow is exciting the dog.

    With all of that out of the way - cohabitation. This poor cat can't live cooped up in my room all day every day, nor can I put up with that, I simply don't have the energy for it anymore at this age. But I'm stumped at how to even slowly introduce him to the rest of the household when the dog is so fervently excited by his mere presence. I don't know how to let them see each other without the dog, the cat, or both, potentially getting hurt. (This mix breed of dog has eyes that bulge out of their heads. His eyes leak like crazy so you need to constantly clean them. So with this feature, I'm especially worried about claw damage.)

    So, I need help from people who know dogs especially well. Small dogs have never been my thing, so it's essentially a big blind spot in my experience. If anyone has any advice on how to go about this introduction, please do voice it and I'll actively answer. Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Bizzi Kizzi

    Bizzi Kizzi PetForums Junior

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    When I took in a dog that wasn't very cat friendly, I put a baby gate across a bedroom door so that the cat could get out and in but the dog couldn't get in. It also gave them the option to meet at the door. I also put a cat bed on top of the wardrobe in one of the other rooms so that she had a safe space if she came out. They never became friends, but did manage to co-exist.
     
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  3. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    This hasn't worked so you need to try another tack. has he actually seen the cat or is it his meow hes responding too. ?

    Can you get the dog to focus on you at all? Ive used a clicker with my pet introductions.
     
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  4. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    There’s a great sticky on dog and cat introductions
    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/how-to-introduce-dogs-and-cats-successfully.534671/

    Terriers can have big prey drives, and a lot of the time, dogs don’t generalise. So your dog has learnt that it leaves the cats it knows behind but doesn’t know about this knew cat. It does sound quite intense if I’m honest, and I would keep your mind open as this may end up in rehoming.

    I would set up baby gates so your cat can get about and the dog can’t follow. And make sure the cat has lots of safe places to go away from the dog, high places and maybe a room or two where the dog is not allowed. You don’t want the dog to practice chasing at all so you might think about keeping the dog on a lead so you can control interactions.
    Please stop telling the dog off, it doesn’t understand and you’re probably making him anxious of you. You need to reward the dog when he’s being calm around the cat. Do you use kongs or anything? A stuffed kong (stuffed with peanut butter, wet food, kibble) will help distract your dog but also reward him for being quiet and calm. This might take a long time, there is no quick solution unfortunately and you may have to manage their interactions for a long time. They may also never get used to each other.
     
    lullabydream and kimthecat like this.
  5. Wrathlorien

    Wrathlorien PetForums Newbie

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    Already done that with the baby gate, actually. I had one incident of excited tail wagging and shaking in excitement, until the cat walked off and he started barking up a storm. I was already planning to do that a few more times. The only thing I can do really.

    As for putting the cat up high, the dog would jump up at the place repeatedly and bark/squeal his head off. I genuinely think that would just tease the dog more.

    He's seen it once, when they were introduced, and a second time through a child safety gate. First time, Dog ended up with a scratched nose, which did nothing to deter his enthusiasm. I then had to hold him back, and when I let him calm down a second and let him go again, he climbed onto the kitchen table (he does that) where the cat was, and the cat climbed up the curtain and nearly pierced my ear with its claw. If it were up to me, I would have put him in my room before the dog ever saw him and started with the baby gate introduction. But, typically, family didn't want to listen to the guy who's good with animals.

    I taught him very basic whistle commands when he was young, so that snaps him to attention. It's the only time he'll listen without fault. But the thing usually makes him very excited like we're going to play, so I don't know if that would just make the situation with the cat worse or not.

    I won't just pass him along again. The poor thing is the most gentle, well behaved cat I've ever known, yet he's been passed around like second hand goods. While I'm typing this, I just caught view of him burying his head into his old bed that came with him in his carrier, purring and pawing at it. He misses his owner so much that it breaks my heart. I will exhaust every single option before I even consider putting him through that again.

    As luck would have it, I have one baby gate, and have already been doing basic introduction with that. But this cat in-particular is a rather gentle creature. He very slowly and carefully walks around places. He's not much of a jumper. I don't think he's going to ever take an active role in skirting around the dog. He'll probably just slink away.

    Nah, the dog isn't getting anxious of me. He genuinely doesn't understand what being told off means. If I strongly shoo him away somewhere, he just thinks its more play. Play is all that's in his brain, every minute of every day. He's increadibly simple minded, and single minded. Infact, he's gone many times with neglecting his dinner because he's too focused on his toys, so he picks play over food every time.
     
  6. Lyracollie

    Lyracollie Crazy hamster lady

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    Can I ask how much exercise and mental stimulation the dog gets? Sounds like he has a lot of pent up energy and needs a bit more training.
    How long have you had the cat? I have a Jack Russel that I had to introduce to my two cats, she'd never lived with them beforehand, took a few months to get them all tolerating each other.

    Sometimes it just takes time for everyone to adjust, personally I didn't keep them separated as long as I was in the same room, then if the dog started to chase or get wound up I'd call her back to me and get her attention onto something else and over time she gave up the chase.
     
  7. Wrathlorien

    Wrathlorien PetForums Newbie

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    The dog generally just sprints up and down the yard every day after balls. It's a large yard and he full pelt sprints around it all day with his limitless energy. He doesn't really have an off switch. He can run around enough to make himself sick and still keep going, so I don't let him get to that level anymore.

    I did train him as much as possible, but he's just not a regular dog like the last three I've owned. Every other dog I've had, I've trained from a young age and just been generally smart with. They would respond to their names, come to me when called, stay or go away when told to; I always taught them to behave. But this dog from day one just doesn't pay attention to anything except his own toys. He just doesn't listen, and doesn't understand the word "no." I think it must be the Chihuahua in him or something, because he sure doesn't act like a Jack Russel. If I try to put them in the same room like you said, currently, he'd chase the cat and ignore me entirely. So I'm going to give it a slow burn for them to get used to each others smells through the door, and through a child gate, before I try anything more energetic again. Rushing into it will only stress out the cat and excite the dog.

    I've had the cat for two days now. This post is essentially helping me prepare for the long road to cohabitation. I'm the only competent one managing this situation so I'm trying to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible. When I last took in a stray (cat in my profile picture) it was back in college some five years ago, and my last dog was still alive. Tilly was an Alsatian mutt who was very well taught, there was never a single issue with her and the new cat, who was also very aloof and looked down on the dog like she was a lesser being, as she ignored her and went about her day. But this time, I've got an increadibly hyperactive dog who doesn't ever listen, and an increadibly gentle cat, who just wants peaceful times with no fuss. It's essentially the same situation but flipped on its head.

    And just to stress the point before I get any scathing remarks about training, he's my mothers dog, not mine. When she got him around a year ago, I wasn't even so much as told in advance, so I did the best I could with training him at the time while she spoiled him rotten. And I also didn't decide to take in this new cat, it just fell to me as the competent one to take care of it once it did arrive. I'm just doing my best with the situation at hand. So I very much appreciate all of the support and advice given. Rest assured, the cat will be well taken care of no matter the outcome, I'm just trying to improve his living circumstances as much as possible. It would be best for everyone if he could roam free around the house with the rest one day.
     
  8. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    Cats generally feel safer up high. I’m not suggesting you put the cat up high but make sure it has places to get away from the dog, including high spaces. I did say it would be a long process, but you need to prepare rooms for when they can share space. And also why I suggested keeping the dog on the lead when around the cat so it cannot go and jump up at it or anything.

    Again, I didn’t say you just pass the cat on but you do need to prepare for the fact that sometimes dogs and cats just won’t cohabit and you will have to make a difficult choice. It is not fair on either dog or cat to live in a constant stress situation. I’m not saying give up now, give it time and see, but if there is no progress over time then you will need to make a decision. It is good that he has someone who wants to try and give him a loving home.

    I think, the fact you said your dog bit you, does show that it is not indifferent to you telling him off and has obviously felt anxious or stressed enough to respond.

    I think, if you want to make this work you probably need to address the dogs energy levels. I appreciate he’s not your dog but if no one else is willing to put in the effort you may have to to live in harmony! Chasing balls is a very high arousal game, and it can keep dogs in a high arousal state instead of tiring them out and they don’t switch off. Pelting about will also make him fitter. How much brain training do you do with him? Does he do any mental stimulation games? I would try doing something more mentally stimulating with him, it can be as simple as scattering treats or kibble in grass for him to sniff out. There are also puzzle games you can buy. Or you can use empty toilet roll tubes or cardboard box filled with tissue paper and treats hidden in there. These games will help use his brain and tire him out and teach him to settle. A stuffed kong will help too as chewing and licking are calming activities.
    Games like this should lower his arousal levels and chill him out a bit and help with him being calmer around the cat. It might take a while for him to learn these games but it will be worth it. I’d also maybe make him a spot or a bed in the living room and train him to settle on there, so when the cat is about you can ask him to ‘go to bed’ or something, then give him something to chew on or do mentally and he can settle on his bed with something nice.
     
  9. Lyracollie

    Lyracollie Crazy hamster lady

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    Ah okay, so still very early days then!
    I know he's your mother's dog and I can understand how annoying it is when a family member doesn't put in the work, but as you've mentioned the dog is obsessed with playing with his toys have you ever tried using them as a reward in training instead of food or just praise? He might respond to you a bit more if he thinks he's going to get something super fun out of it.

    As for the Jack Russel part I've certainly met my fair share of hyperactive and over-stimulated ones, they can be quite the handful! :D I just got lucky that mine's a people pleaser and prefers being a couch potato to bouncing off the walls like a lot of them do. As chihuahuas and JR's are both terriers they have pretty high prey-drive which probably isn't helping in this situation.

    And like Teddy-dog said switching him to brain-teasing things like puzzles or kongs might be a bit better than hyping him up with the ball, but I hope he'd at least get a walk in-between just for exercise if that was the case. Could be that he's over-stimulated and can't settle.

    I think it's just early on in their relationship and as he's okay with your other cats he'd probably eventually get bored of the reacting, it's just all very new and exciting when there's a new pet about the house, it can take a few months for them to get used to each other from my experience.
     
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