Many people enjoy having more than one pet in the household, but adding another animal can come with challenges. Some dogs are more domineering than others, yet you don’t want an overly aggressive dog who won’t allow your second canine friend to eat or play with the toys. And, if you have cats, you’d like to see your feline friends get along. Or, if you have a mixture of dogs and cats, you’d prefer the dog not aggravate or chase the cat… or the cat to constantly swatch and scratch the pup. Just like blending human families, blending a furry family can take a great deal of patience and a lot of time. Be prepared to work with your animals in order to experience harmony in your home.
We had a dog named Cody, a cocker spaniel we adopted from our local humane society in 2008. He was wonderful with our blind springer spaniel, Sage, but she took more time to acclimate to Cody living with us. And, Cody was terror for our two cats. We didn’t properly introduce Cody and the cats, and for several weeks, even into a second month of living with us, Cody chased the cats every time he saw them. Finally, one of our kitties had enough and she swatted his face. That’s all it took and the chasing ceased. It was still another month before harmony set in but it did happen.
After Sage passed, we waited another year to obtain another dog, and this time we chose one who had been around, and therefore, was good with, both dogs and cats. Mary became our next dog, adopted in 2013, and she and the kitties get along wonderfully!
Cody passed away in January 2016. In October, I brought home a small Pekinese mix named Lemmons, again from our local humane society. He had not been around cats, but the shelter staff “tested” him by taking him into the cat room; Lemmons behaved well. And, when I brought him home I introduced him properly to the cats, taking things slowly and having them sniff each other through closed doors. All seemed to be going well. Then, the day I let Lemmons and our cat Murphy near each other, he lunged for the back of her neck. Too much trauma and drama, so I decided he would do best in a home without cats. He had also snapped at Mary a few times. Lemmons was later re-homed through the humane society with someone who had no other pets and to my knowledge, he’s doing much better in that setting. And, my household is harmonious once again.
Sometimes blending furry ones into one household doesn’t work and a person must make the decision that is best for all animals (and humans) of the household. There is the right home for that animal; it just might not be yours.
As my husband and I once again consider adopting another dog – Mary is lonely as the only dog in the house; she had a smaller pup friend in the household before ours and then of course, she had Cody when she first came to live with us – we will once again seek a smaller dog that has been in a multi-pet home. We are hoping to find our next furry friend later this year, possibly another Cocker Spaniel, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Bichon Frise, or a Shih Tzu. Each breed is different, in personality, in activity level, and in requirements, just as people are different. So, I’m studying, I’m asking questions, I’m researching. Petfinder.com is a great way to find a new furry friend and the various rescues and shelters in my region are also excellent organizations to contact.
If you’re looking for a feline or canine companion, visit your local rescues and shelters and check out Petfinder as well. Just remember that blending a furry family takes time and patience so do your homework first for the right breed and the right individual.
My husband and I recently adopted a Pekingese mix, adding him to our household that includes felines. This is not the first time I’ve brought home a new dog into a family with cats, but it is the second time I’ve faced challenges.
More than eight years ago I adopted a cocker spaniel named Cody; he came into a household that included a blind springer spaniel and two young cats. My kitties had become accustomed to living with Sage, the blind springer, so they naturally gravitated toward Cody. That’s when I was reminded not all dogs are used to cats, and the chase was on! For many months Cody “protected” Sage and me from those pesky felines (in his mind) and the cats remained secluded from the rest of us. I was to a point where I thought of re-homing him. But, one day, one of the cats stood up for herself, swatting Cody in the face when he chased her, rounding the corner of the bedroom. That action caught him by surprise and chasing cats became history.
Cody passed away in January at more than 17 years of age. Now, we’re facing the same situation with Lemons – a cat-chasing newly-adopted dog. This time, however, my cats are much older and a bit crankier due to arthritis… and I’m sure despondent because they’ve been displaced by a dog not much bigger than themselves. You would think I’d have learned how to properly introduce pets – in particular a dog to cats. We’ve only had Lemons less than a week, so I’m hoping implementing ideas from the American Humane Association can still be applied.
This wonderful pet rescue organization suggests several steps to introduce a new dog into one’s home that includes cats. Here are some of the recommendations:
I’m hoping to not have to use a professional behaviorist or take our newly adopted dog back. Cody ended up working out just fine with our cats; I’m believing Lemons will, too, with hopes that his Toy Spaniel sweet temperament will kick in as he becomes more comfortable in his new home, our home, and that the cats will adjust to him as they did to Cody. However, I’m also aware their older ages (Lemons is 8 and the cats are 11) may be a hindrance to that adjustment… but I’m hopeful that’s not the case.
Read more information on introducing dogs and cats to one another, including bringing a new cat into a household with a resident dog, by visiting the American Humane Association’s website: http://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/introducing-dogs-to-cats/.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.