7.05.2011

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

One of our two cats, Rohan, recently had surgery. The problem -aside from a massive bladder stone- happened when we brought her back from the hospital with the Lampshade Of Doom (tm) on her head. All of the other animals reacted in very different ways.
"I do not like the cone of shame, but these drugs...WHEEEEEEE!"

Sadie was merely curious at Rohan's drunken gate, and inability to walk in a straight line due to the anesthesia. If a dog could be amused, this was it. The look she kept giving us was clear. "Hey, mom, this is HILARIOUS! I don't know what you did, but what a great party trick!"

Rohan and Sadie enjoying an afternoon snuggle
Zeppelin was totally disinterested, and couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. He went back to sleep.
Ro is fairly convinced Zeppy is her long lost love. Zeppy is convinced otherwise. Ro waits for Zep to sleep, and then cuddles next to him. Poor Zep- every time he wakes up, he's got to be thinking "What did I DO last night?!?"

The unexpected issue happened when Rohan's litter-mate, a cat she has known her entire life, had reacted with outright rage. As far as Baja was concerned, this limp, awkward black cat-type thing that REEKS of hospital, urine, and is shaved in unmentionable areas, has got to be a Rohan Impersonator, who has come from another planet to infiltrate planet earth, and needed to be hissed at, and attacked.

When that didn't work, Baja hid upstairs under our bed for 4 days because that's the only place The Cone Of Shame prevented Rohan from going.
"We'll always be sisters and love each other, right?"
"Yes. Unless you show up with a lampshade on your head, shaved in unmentionable places, and clearly on drugs. Then the deal is off."


Throughout this entire experience, I kept thinking of all the people that integrate dogs and cats together in a single environment. Sometimes, as in our case, we have very few issues and it's a peaceable kingdom. However, some people can have a very difficult time integrating new pets into the home, even if it the new pet is the same species.

So what do you do? If you're trying to integrate dogs and cats, think of what each animal will need:

-Dogs will need a reliable recall, leave it command, and, if things get really bad...drop it. Let's face it, the cat won't listen- the burden is on your training, and your dogs ability. You might have to use a leash at first to work on things, and to keep both parties safe. I discussed "how to teach leave it" in a previous post.

"Hey Cat, I thought I was supposed to chew on you.....! Drop it...DROP IT...ow."
Everyone worries about the cat, and they should...but cats have KNIVES that come out of their feet and can do some serious damage to a dogs muzzle, eyes, and you if you get in the way. The only time I was sent to the hospital working with animals was when I decided to move the 9 pound cat instead of the 40 pound dog he had cornered. I should have picked up the dog instead.


-Dogs and cats should ALWAYS be supervised at the beginning. Cats and cats should be supervised at the beginning. Dogs and dogs should be supervised at the beginning. 16 year old teenagers should be supervised at the beginning. When not able to supervise, put the new animal in a designated room or space where she has the necessities: Food, water amusement, and safety. A litter box if it's a cat in question.

You can see Baja has always had a safety gate  to get to her safe-zone.

 -Both animals will need their own space. After 4 years, we still use a gate for "The Cat Room", which is really a laundry room/second bathroom. That keeps the dogs away from the cat food, and the irresistible Kitty Crunchies (read: Kitty Poo). It also allows the cats some space that is just theirs.
Baja LOVES this closet. It's in a high place, dark, and filled with clean laundry we'd rather she didn't sleep in.
So of course, it's her favorite place.  





Yes, it's hideous. I'm pretty sure the only reason they like it is because I hate it.


 -Varying heights: Cats LOVE high places. Cats also love dark small spaces. Ugly, yes, but it's worth it for the cats to have a safe place to go where they feel safe, and where the dogs can not get them.



Dr.'s Foster and Smith offer these wall mounts that can be at varying heights, and as complex as you want. Also, less ugly.

 - Honesty from you. It would be absolutely unfair to a highly prey driven dog, who will chase everything, and introduce a cat that will run and trigger the prey response in that dog. It would be equally unfair to introduce a new bouncy puppy to a household that has a 17 year old cat who is afraid of absolutely everything and can't get away to safety fast enough. Think about the animal(s) you already have and think if it would really be fair for them to integrate a new critter into the home. If you have a social dog that seems curious around cats, or a cat that doesn't seem to care when there are visiting dogs over, then those might be excellent candidates for a multi-pet/multi species household. If it's not the case, you still might be able to get another pet, but you really have to do your homework or consult a specialist to help with the integration.
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