What do you do when you find out your supposedly cat-friendly dog isn’t quite the kind friend to cats you thought he’d be? Cat friendly dog. Those are the magic words for anyone looking for a pooch when they already have cats living at home. They’re magic words for a reason. Depending on his size a dog can be far, far bigger than a cat, and if he plays too rough or just plain attacks the cat, it can go from Hello Kitty to Bye Bye Kitty in a heartbeat. So responsible cat owners who want a dog always check to see if he’s a cat-friendly dog. BUT… What if you bring home a dog who’s supposed to get along with cats, but he really doesn’t?
I recently came across a post in a forum about this very topic. The post itself was rather vague, simply saying that the dog was not, in fact, cat-friendly, and that the poster was wondering if they should rehome the dog. Because of the vagueness of the question, I decided to write a post all about what to do when you bring home a dog that isn’t as cat-friendly as he was touted to be.
Introduction is Everything
First thing’s first. You really don’t know if the dog you bring home will love your cats or try to murder them until they all see each other for the first time. Therefore, you absolutely, unequivocally do not want to just thrown the new guy into your home. Sure, he and the cats might get along like gangbusters. But he also might try to make a meal of one of them.
When you introduce a new dog to a cat or cats in the home, you want to keep them separated. See, dogs, even seemingly mild-mannered ones, have an inborn instinct to chase anything that runs from them. And I can almost guarantee that unless your cat is super chill, he will absolutely run from a dog at the first sight of one. Keeping the new guy separated from the cats at their first meeting, and depending upon how it goes, for a while thereafter is a great way for all of them to get used to each other without the danger of kitty becoming a Scooby Snack.
Assess the Situation
So let’s say that your cat-friendly dog isn’t exactly as friendly as he was supposed to be. Here’s the part where you have to really take a long, hard look at the situation. Step back from your feelings about how cute the new guy is and look at what’s happening with a subjective eye. This assessment will determine if you can try to get your cats and the new dog to enjoy one another or if you should immediately find the dog a new home.
Aggressive or Overly Playful?
That’s an important question to ask yourself. Is your not-so-cat-friendly cat-friendly dog being overtly aggressive or is he just being your standard goofball dog? If the dog is doing things like nosing, licking, jumping on or around the cats, or other similar behaviors, your new dog is just being the classic doggy dummy. This type of behavior is actually an indicator that the dog is SUPER cat-friendly. Over time, your cats will establish in no uncertain terms what their boundaries are, and things should calm down.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the spectrum. If the new dog’s hackles are up, he’s stalking the cats, or doing things that seem just a bit too rough for even rough dog play, you could have a far bigger problem on your hands. This is the type of behavior that indicates that the new dog wants to make a meal of your cat. It’s not his fault. Remember that. He’s responding to his inner prey drive. However, it does mean that you need to immediately and without any delay rehome the dog. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for tragedy.
How to Make it Work
So if you’re established that your cat-friendly dog is just overly friendly, you’re looking at a pretty easy transition. Keep the new dog and the cats separated until the cats don’t freak out every time they see the dog. This serves two purposes. A: It helps your cats adjust to the new guy without being stressed. And B: It helps reduce the chances of the cat being injured by the dog’s overly happy attitude.
Another thing to remember is food. You should always keep the cat food well out of reach of the dog. For one thing, cat food is too high in fat, and it could give your dog diarrhea. Another reason, which is more pertinent to this article, is that even the most cat-friendly dog might snap or accidentally injure your cat in his drive to get to that delicious tuna-flavored ambrosia in the bowl.
It’s Easy to Tell if Your Cat-Friendly Dog Can be Trusted
And that’s it. It’s actually far easier to tell if your not so cat-friendly dog is dangerous or just a doofus. And I say that with love, because pretty much all dogs fall into that category. Step back, gauge the interaction of your cats and your new cat-friendly dog, and assess whether the situation is just an annoyance for your cats that can be overcome or a bomb waiting to go off. If you do that, you should be able to tell relatively quickly if your cat-friendly dog is, in fact, cat-friendly.