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.