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Pet World: What to do when new cat and old dog don’t get along

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We adopted a cat in mid-March. She is approximately two-years-old. She was captured as a stray and spayed. They put her up for adoption, I'm guessing, because she is very social with people. We were told she "hates" other cats but is okay with dogs. We have an elderly male dog, 13-years-old, who is totally complacent about everything. The cat has started to lay her ears back, meow annoyance and chase him from wherever she doesn't wish him to be. Thus far, our corrections have been clapping hands with a displeased voice. She will exit the situation but will repeat behavior later in day. I've also sprayed pheromones around sleeping areas and tried calming cat treats. I would appreciate any suggestions to curtail her behavior. A can of coins or noise correction would freak out our old dog.

–Regina, Northampton, Pennsylvania

Dear Regina,

Whenever a new animal is brought into the home, there is an adjustment period for everyone. In order to have harmony, the new arrival must find some space to call her own, which means the other animals already in the home must give up some space. This can cause conflict and take many months to work out.

But you can help things along by creating some private space your feline can call her own. This might involve putting up a doggie gate that she can crawl under or over to access a room that your dog can’t access; moving boxes out from under beds so she has a place to escape; or leaving empty boxes in closets so she can sleep in them. But the thing I recommend most is getting her a tall cat tree with lots of perches and levels so she can expand her territory upwards. Rub cat nip on the cat tree and add a few treats to each level for about a week to encourage her to climb up. Although, I think she will be on the top perch on the first day, as she will quickly recognize this is her space to claim. Adding this tall cat tree can immediately reduce conflict between your dog and cat.


Pent up energy also can be a problem for some cats. Because she is a stray, she may be used to spending time outside. If so, consider training her to wear a harness and leash, so you can eventually take her into a yard for some mental stimulation. A 10-minute “walk” in the yard every morning can give her mind something to do.

If you don’t have a yard or supervised outside time won’t work, then make sure she receives a minimum of 10 minutes of exercise/playtime, twice daily. Animals that don’t get exercise/playtime can remain moody and irritable with the other people and pets in the home.

Dear Cathy,

I have a nine-year-old, female German Shepherd dog. We have had her for six-years. She is a rescue, and we are her third home. She is a sweetheart, however, has anxiety issues when we go for our morning walks. It is difficult to get in a four-mile walk while avoiding other dogs. I can feel the anxiety in her voice when another dog approaches. After reading an article by you, I am hoping that you can give us a suggestion of what we can do to help her.


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