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My Pet World: Reader takes right steps toward dog, cat introductions

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We just took in a five-year-old dog from a family friend who could not keep him anymore. All is going somewhat well, but he does not get along with my three-year-old cat at all. We have tried to introduce them with him being held back on a leash, but he constantly keeps going after the cat. The cat pays the dog no mind. But the dog doesn't seem to be improving at all. It has only been about three weeks, but some of my research suggests this may never change. Are there any tips or suggestions you may have on how to get the dog to just be able to live in the same house with my cat? -- Graig, West Babylon, NY

Dear Graig,

I applaud you for keeping the new dog on the leash these last few weeks. I know it's inconvenient to "walk" the dog around the house, but it gives the dog and cat time to get to know each other without the dog chasing and scaring the cat.

In addition, use a baby gate around the house to keep the dog from chasing the cat. The baby gate provides the dog and cat some much-needed nose-to-nose time, which can help further cement their friendship. Animals learn a lot through scent.

At the same time, reinforce "sit" and "stay" commands with your new dog all throughout the day, so he learns to listen to you. He doesn't have to love the cat (and vice versa), they just need to respect each other.

Once they are comfortable together, keep the leash on the collar for a few more days, so you can grab it, if needed. If after all this, the dog is still acting like he wants to hurt the cat, then you may have to re-home the dog. But generally, if the dog is just anxious and highly-interested in the cat, and not growling and showing signs of aggression, they should eventually learn to get along.

Dear Cathy,

We have a three-year-old domestic cat. She has always had a picky appetite, and has times of affection and aloofness. We recently acquired a rag doll kitten. For the last month, our older cat's appetite and playfulness have diminished appreciably. The two of them interact very minimally; the older cat seems to allow the kitten to have the run of the house. Basically, we would just like to bring back her personality. Any tips? -- Mike, Newington, CT

Dear Mike,

If the new kitten got the run of the house from the start, the older cat may be feeling stressed by the new household dynamics. Cats are very territorial, and it would be easy for a dominate personality to change the mood of the entire household. Introductions go best when cats have time to adjust to each other more slowly.

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Go back to making proper introductions by putting the new kitten in a room with a litter box and toys for a few days, giving your older feline the chance to relax and roam the house again. During this time, take turns sitting on each side of the door, using a feather toy under the door to play with whichever cat is on the other side. Fingers crossed they will connect each other's scent with something fun, and reintroductions will go easier.

Once they are around each other again, make sure there are at least two litter boxes. Also, don't feed them near each other until you are sure they are friends. They need to have their separate spaces.

If your older cat continues to have a poor appetite, however, please get her checked by a veterinarian.

Dear Cathy,

I have a cat who is five years old that we rescued from the Humane Society. He is a Russian Blue and a great cat, except he will not any wet foods. The only think he will eat is dry food. My vet has no answer. He is very healthy, but wonder what we would do if he needs a pill or other oral medication. We have tried all kinds of food, including tuna and chicken, and he will only drink the juice. - Harry, Marana, Arizona

Dear Harry,

Even cats who eat wet foods know how to eat around their pills. If you ever need to give your cat a pill, use a pill popper, available online and at pet stores. It looks intimidating, but is easy to use. Ask your veterinarian or watch an online video tutorial to learn how to use it.

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(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

(c) 2017 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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