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I Need Your Help... Doggie and Kitties Are Not BFFs

Thanks so much for helping out – and sharing stories – about unleashed pets! When luckyme wrote to PetSugar asking for advice, I thought we'd try another team effort here! Read through her story, and then share any tips or experiences in your comments below.

"We started our little family with two finicky cats. Raven and Talcom. They are three and four and still quite particular.

In November someone attempted to break into our home (while I was here, with our six-month-old daughter!). The police officers told both my husband and I that one of the best security systems we could have would be a dog. A month later, we welcomed Holly to our family. She is an energetic, one-year-old Golden Retriever. We adopted her from a service dog program in which she was a flunky (the worst of the best, as my friend says). In case you're wondering, the reason she didn't make it was because she wasn't as responsive to treats as they would have liked. Being that treats are a cornerstone of the training program, she didn't have much of a chance. But, on the plus side, she did come with some basic commands. She can sit, stay, come, shake, and a few others.

To fast forward to now,


It's been two and half months and our cats are still having a really hard time with her. Granted, she did chase them when she first came into our home, but that has since subsided. We're just not sure what to do. We have baby gates up all over the house, both for the baby and the cats. They have plenty of "safe" places to go. Holly has no way of getting to their food or litter box. We have made her lay down on the floor so the cats can come smell her when she's in a calm-submissive state (thank you, Cesar). Beyond this, we're at a loss. We do not want to get rid of her or the cats. We would like for everyone to eventually co-exist peacefully. Any advice?"

Join The Conversation
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
It just takes time. They may never be BFF's ... but they will eventually co-exist. My newest cat took about 5 months to totally accept the dogs. Of course, they loved her from minute one. (Loved - wanted to chase, sniff, etc.) Now ... she loves on them when in the right mood but mostly just tolerates them. And if they're not in the house - she actually searches for them!
Stupidasscat Stupidasscat 9 years
Like alot of the stories we started with one cat (Stupid, trust me if you meet him you'd understand) and then got a kitten (Marbles) which made the other cat mad and hide til he realized he just gave the rest of the house to the kitten so he came out of hiding and they are now buddies then we introd a new doggie (Wiley)picture a cross between a deer, greyhound and Wile E. Coyote (her namesake) and the cats lost it, WE the so called owners got attitude and owners of cats know how vindictive they can be. After about 2 months Marbles warmed up to her it took about a year for Stupid to be ok with her (I think he kept hoping she was just a visitor)and now we will catch them sleeping together usually with Wileys head on Stupids butt he has lots of junk in his trunk. So no worries they will learn to live with it.
ladybug41 ladybug41 9 years
Even if the dog chases the cats to play, the cats get scared. We had a 3 year old setter when we brought our first cat. She is a high strung dog and she chases *everything*. Even flying birds. We were very careful in never letting the dog loose when the cats were nearby. We leashed the dog for the first introductions, put them on both sides of a closed door, placing sometimes their food bowls on each side of the door, rewarded the dog every time she remained calm around the kitty and gave the kitty ample space and time to get used to the cat. We brought in a second cat, stray kitty that came up to me on the street. Same approach. Our older cat passed away and we brought a kitty a few months ago. Same approach. Everybody gets along beautifully now. My dog chases the neighbor's cat but she does not chase ours!! Time, patience, avoiding any chasing situation and making sure the cats have places to go and feel safe seems to be the way to go.
mara_viajera mara_viajera 9 years
Your own attitude and apprehension are a factor in how your dogs and cats treat eachother. We have two dogs and two cats that get along well, but when we first brought Genie home she immediately attacked the cats as if they were prey. My husband worked with Genie and managed to teach her that play was ok but malicious pursuit was not allowed, by praising harmless play and sending her to her kennel when she was too rough. However, when I was in the room, my energy still made the cats anxious and the dog excited, and the situation would get tense again. It took my husband convincing me to calm down and not try to interfere with their play for us all to be comfortable in the same house. Now the cats instigate playing chase as much as the dogs and everybody gets along well.
Leopardcc Leopardcc 9 years
Well I really hope it settles for you soon and you can all live under one roof without any trouble. Cats just like to run everything, they will adjust though so try not to stress yourself about them too much. :)
luckyme luckyme 9 years
That is a good tip Leopardcc. We have been working on giving the cats some space from her. She loves to be outside, so she spends a lot of time in the yard. She also likes to be in the car, so I take her with me on errands and whatnot. That way the cats can be out and about without the fear of being chased. I also wanted to point out that what Wakeupanddora said about having two dogs is interesting. We were pet sitting my parents dog, Tegan for 3 weeks and Holly really could have cared less about the cats when she was here. All she wanted to do was play with Tegan. Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have a difficult time convincing my husband that we need another dog ;). Had it not been for the attempted break in, I don't think we would have the one we have now.
Leopardcc Leopardcc 9 years
Another thing that is helpful is if you could maybe put the dog in the bathroom, or some other room with a door, for a bit. Then let the kitties smell her under the door, this sort of tricks the cats sometimes into thinking that they still run the house. :) It gives the cats some time to have the house to themselves again.
hottpink hottpink 9 years
My hubby and I are just about to embark on this adventure! We have 3 kitties, all of them are 4 and very soon we will be adding an adopted Greyhound to our family. These are all really great tips that I know we will be using!
luckyme luckyme 9 years
DeanMartin, that is hysterical. Our white cat is kind of an ass like that. He will hiss and yell at her when she's just relaxing and paying him no attention. Well of course, this alerts her and she thinks he wants to play. Then he runs and she chases him and she gets in trouble. We tell him to zip it too, but the dog gets the brunt of it. I really wish we could reason with the cats, "Don't run, she won't chase you. Don't hiss, she won't really know you're there..." Alas, they are not that intelligent. Oh well, I'm sure with time we'll reach some sort of happy medium.
luckyme luckyme 9 years
Thank you all for your advice. I realize that this is a common problem, but I just figured we would be to a more friendly place by now. The cats adjusted with much more ease when the baby came home, which I am so surprised by! They even sleep in her room... I like the idea of the treats for the cats when they are being friendly. That's about the only time our black cat will come out, anyway. He is so insanely addicted to his Kitty Kaviar (or cat crack, as we call it), that I think he would risk death to get it. Also, I don't think I clarified this in my little story, but Holly is in no way aggressive. She is not chasing them to hurt them. She's just a big baby that wants to play. I guess we probably need to give it some more time and be patient. I just feel bad for the cats. It can't be fun to live in fear all the time :(
deanMartin deanMartin 9 years
i don't allow the dog in the laundry room anyway, so that is where sammy's stuff is, there is a kiddie gate so the dog can't get in, and sammy feels special to be able to share a room she thinks is just "ours" cause even though i "might" let the rest of the family into the laundry room it hasn't actually happened. my grown daughter will stand in front of the gate and ask me if the kitty is in there and will i get it for her? sammy is convinced that she is special now, and the only one allowed in with mommy's private stuff:) Sammy is still kind of a mean cat though, we found that her trick lately is to trap the dog if it has to pee, so that it will get in trouble for going in the house, real nice isn't she?
lawchick lawchick 9 years
I totally agree with Leopard. When my husband and his 9-year-old lab mix moved in with me, I had a 3-year-old cat and a kitten. We put up one of those baby gates with a door for the kitties so that the dog could only go in half of the house. We put the kitties' food and litter on the side the dog can't go in. The dog is friendly, but hyper. He clearly did not want to hurt the cats, but they were terrified of them. It took the kitten about a month to become more comfortable with him. The older cat, who was shy to begin with, took longer than that. He hissed and growled and hid under the bed. I felt terrible about how traumatized he seemed. It has now been six months, and the animals are co-existing nicely. I don't think they will ever cuddle or anything like that, but the cats aren't afraid to fall asleep in the same room as the dog. I think they feel safer when they are up high, so you might want to get some of those hideous carpet trees for them. It should improve in time! I think Leopard's advice about reassuring the cats is really smart!
Leopardcc Leopardcc 9 years
It will just take some time really, they should adjust and I would hope that you would not get rid of any of your pets. Sometimes cats just have a hard time adjusting to any type of change. Just keep reassuring your cats. Have your dog lay down, calm submissive like you stated, then have the cats come near and give the cats a treat while they are close to the dog, then they will associate the dog with good things! Good luck!
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I think the others have given some great advice. Growing up, we had our dog long before our cats, so it was more of the dog adjusting to them - and realizing that he no longer was king of the house.
mannylove mannylove 9 years
As many have said above, time is the will take longer than a few months...maybe up to a year, maybe less. I would say having a safe place that the cats come get in & out of, but the dog can not helps. Maybe leaving a door slightly open, not sure if your dog opens doors or not. Also I found helpful was praising them when they were nice to each other, every time one passes the other, telling them good boy/good girl & a nice pat or kiss from you..maybe give the cats a treat if they are nice around the dog. But most of all, be patient & let time do the work, eventually they will co-exist in peace, they may not ever be best buddies, but they will learn to live together without causing chaos!
JessNess JessNess 9 years
I think it will come with time. If you have a place that is purely for the cats where they can feel safe then they will eventually come around to the dogs I have never had a a cat and a dog but when we did introduce a second dog to our first dog, who we had already had for 4 years, it took about a year for them to finally get along. They still have tiffs every once in awhile but with time they have definitely become friends
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
I don't really have any suggestions, but I can certainly offer some sympathy - we're going through somewhat the same thing ourselves. We had 2 dogs, Tasha and Sabaka, when our cat, Piper, joined our family. She got along *wonderfully* with Tash and Baka, but about 2 years ago, Baka suddenly passed away, and a short time later, we brought in Xander, who was just about 6 weeks old at the time. Piper had *no* idea what to make of Xan. We tried to help her get more used to him while he was still small, but she just hissed, spit and ran. Two years on, he's now 85 lbs and she *still* hasn't really warmed up to him much, though she is willing to be out and about more than she had been for a while. We've given Piper a nice, tall, kitty condo, so she can perch up there in the living room well out of Xander's reach, plus her food bowl and litter box are behind a baby gate, and we've put a kitty door in one of the bedroom doors so she can dive in there if she needs to. Right now, all we can do is just hope that since Xander show now be fully grown (it sometimes takes big dogs 2 years to become adults) he'll start to lose some of his extra puppy energy and become calmer so Piper will start feeling comfortable around him. Good luck with your little ones! It's not easy, but hang in there, and just be sure to give the cats some extra, special attention - when we do that for Piper, she seems to be less scared about being out in the living room with us, at least for a while.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I read an article about introducing a new cat to the current feline occupant a few years ago. One tip was to spray a towel lightly with a fragrance and rub the cats with the scented towel. I never needed to use the tip, and I don't know if cross species towel rubbing would be effective, but it might be worth a giving it a thrifty shot!
stefsprl stefsprl 9 years
It just takes time. Both of our cats were less than a year old when we got our puppy. The poor dog thought the cats were great, but they absolutely despised her! They started hiding and sulking, which was really unusual. They came out of that fairly quickly, but were still very skittish whenever the dog was around them. We've had our dog for about 9 months now, and things have calmed way down. One of the cats will occasionally play with her, and while the other keeps her distance, her personality went back to normal after a few months. Cats just hate change, so I'm sure their little worlds have been turned upside down. Give it time, and make sure you keep those "safe places" for the kitties...they'll adjust eventually, even if it doesn't happen as soon as you would like it!
wakeupandora wakeupandora 9 years
** and not that i encourage a housefull of animals - but i think having two dogs, they occupy each other and spend less time tormenting the cats!!
wakeupandora wakeupandora 9 years
i have two shiba inus and two cats. the shibas chase the cats relentlessly. our female cat puked for the first two months of our first dog (a basset we fostered). Its never easy. our male cat is easier with the dogs, he's more curious and gets 'caught' by the dogs more, they mouthed him but don't bite him. my advice would be don't force it. give your cats a hideaway - i have two printer paper boxes that have a hole cut in the lid for them to get in, and i have an old sweater in each box. its seclusion when they want it. they can also jump on top of the fridge to get away. their food and litter box are also sacred places where the dogs cannot go. other than that, i don't try to force any friendly behavior or cuddling. I'm sure in time, they might get close enough to be friendly - but not now. especially taking into account your dog's age - young and playful!! i would let it be, especially if they can co-exist. Just get a few secluded hideaway areas for your cats - maybe a cat door in your basement or bathroom door for them to hideaway from the dog? Nature always works itself out!
sweet-pink-dior sweet-pink-dior 9 years
My family had two cats (1 for about 7 years, 1 about 2 years old) when we brought in our first family dog as a puppy. My old cat did not mind at all, but my younger cat FLIPPED out! She would never come inside, stopped eating and became very unhealthy. I was so worried about her, and there was nothing we could do because we could never find her! A few months later she finally started coming back to the house, and it probably took a good year to be as comfortable as possible with the new puppy dog. Now it's been about 7 years, and everyone gets along fine. In my experience it's a real shock to cats who have never had contact with a dog before, especially in their home, but sooner or later they begin to adjust. I think getting a dog was a good idea, but unfortunately the only thing to do is give it time. Even when puppies get older, they are still energetic and can give off that engery to cats who may be irriated by this. I think as your dog gets older you will see changes. If things get abnormal or unlivable, defintely contact your vet for the best advice!
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