How do you make a cat and a dog get along?

Everybody’s being really helpful in my new cat thread, but since this is a new specific issue I thought I might get a better response making a spin-off thread.

I have a dog, age 14. He’s a West Highland White Terrier, about 16 pounds, and in very good shape for his age. Lots of energy, very spry. On Monday, I went to the shelter and adopted a cat, age 1. While the cat gets acclimated, the dog has been pretty much stuck in his room (a spacious laundry room with plenty of me to rub on him and all - he spends his nights there anyway and it’s not a big hardship) and outside. He didn’t even show any interest in the smell of the cat on my hands.

So, today, I put the cat in its crate and brought the dog in on a leash to meet him. Somehow I saw things going better in my head - it was a disaster. The dog went nuts, barking and making that screaming growl that usually means something’s getting hurt. It even went after the cat’s bed because it smelled like the cat. (The cat wasn’t so thrilled either.) I dragged the dog back to the laundry room, where he’s still barking. Are they ever going to get along? I can seperate them if I have to, for the rest of their natural lives, but I really don’t want to, and every time you close a door at the cat it cries and cries.

I honestly don’t know if the dog can ever be trusted around the cat. He’s sort of ill-trained, which is all my fault. He’s sometimes aggressive to people, notably men. He’s very sweet with me but he can’t really be picked up whenever you want to, he has to be in the mood, that sort of thing. What can I do? What do people who have had this problem end up doing?

Weren’t terriers bred to kill smaller pest animals, like rats and foxes and such? Could that be part of the problem right there…that the dog sees the cat as prey?

Yeah, and the terrier we had before Haplo was a hell of a mouser. The cat’s about his own size, though. I thought it was going to go okay, actually - at first he just sniffed at the carrier curiously, and then it was on, bitch.

Time. The only thing that will make them get along is time, and they may never get along.

What kind of time? Should I keep taking the dog in on a leash? Alternate room use so they smell each other? I don’t really care if they like each other just so long as nobody gets hurt!

Cover the cat in peanut butter and the dog in the water that comes from canned tunafish.

Tape them together and put them in a big burlap sack. After about an hour of this they will either be best of friends or one will have proven themselves the dominant one and the other will fall in line. :slight_smile:

Seriously though, give the cat a blanket and the dog a blanket, let them sleep on them for a week, then switch them so they get used to the way each other smells. That is what I did when my roommate moved new kitties in the house and it seemed to work rather well.

We were worried about our border collie, Diamond, when we brought our new cat, Nomar, home.

We kept them apart for the first day or so, but then we relaxed about it - we knew Diamond wouldn’t hurt Nomar, we were more afraid of N hurting D!!!

D went crazy for a while - typical border collie behaviour - trying to herd the cat, doing crazy circles all around him, totally obsessive. They still wrestle and stuff, but they have a great time together - everything worked out fine once we stepped out of the picture and let them figure things out on their own.

But were any of these dogs actually violent when they met the cat? Haplo wanted to kill it.

The cat climbed up on the windowsill behind my bed this morning that looks out on the deck, where the dog was. Dog went nuts barking.

Does your cat still have claws? We always had both cats and dogs growing up. When we got a new cat or new dog, we just let everyone loose in the house (making sure there are plenty of places where said cat can sneak off to for cover) and let them hash it out (our cats still had front claws)… Usually after a few swats on the nose with a clawed paw, the dog lost all interest and they slowly became friends…

That is just what happened in our cases, I would hate to see something bad happen in yours…

The cat does indeed have claws. The dog, also, is not allowed in some parts of the house that the cat now has free rule over. It would be possible, say, to put a baby gate up in the doorway and give the cat a definite escape route. I just don’t know if I’d dare do that considering how enraged the dog is. I’ve only ever seen him like that with a possum before.

I had a labrador retriever that hated cats. And was fast enough to catch a cat and kill it one time.

The vet told us to be very firm with him when we were out walking. A sharp yank on the leash and a loud and firm “NO”, each time he even looked at a cat. He got the idea and quit messing with cats.

Later, when we had a cat “adopt us”, the dog never messed with her. Though if looks could have killed her. . . (I have a mental image of laser beams coming out of the dogs eyes and the dog using those beams to slice that cat into a gazillion tiny pieces)

You need to make it clear to the dog that the cat is a part of the pack. Let him see you holding it and petting it, and scold him when he acts even the least bit aggressively toward it. If he thinks its part of the pack he’s far less likely to attack it than if he thinks its an intruder.

Now, from the behavior you describe in your OP, it sounds like he views himself as dominant over you so he may not respect your inclusion of the cat in the pack. Definitely keep him on a leash or otherwise constrained for the first several meetings until he has calmed down around the cat.

You know your dog better than we do, so trust your instincts. In this case, it sounds like your instincts are telling you that a baby gate may not hold your enraged dog. I think you’re being wise here - it’s best to to err on the side of caution.

For starters, I’d suggest keeping them separated until the dog can handle seeing the cat without freaking out - this, to me, is a no-brainer, unless you prefer the chance of owning a dead cat or a blind dog. But, how to do this? Is it possible to put the cat in a living space where the dog can see him, but can’t possibly reach him, and hope that the dog will eventually lose interest?

OK, I’ve got it. Install a screen door with storm windows on the cat’s room, so the dog can spy the cat through the glass. :slight_smile:

I did like the idea of swapping their blankets periodically. And please do make sure that the cat has plenty of escape routes and furniture he can climb to get out of reach of the dog.

That’s all I got, other than wishing you good luck.

I’m definately going to try that blanket swapping thing. I put double sided tape on that windowsill to keep the cat off it (for one thing, it’s very narrow and the cat almost ended up stuck, since it’s actually behind my headboard) but maybe I should encourage the cat to sit there, perfectly safe from the dog, when the dog’s outside. It’s funny to me, though, that when I pet the dog after I’ve petted the cat, Haplo doesn’t even seem interested in what I smell like. When I’ve been touching another dog he crawls all over me sniffing at me. Also, he didn’t seem upset when I tried to introduce them until he really saw the cat, I think - he sniffed at the carrier quite calmly and then went crazy.