How our cats and the new puppy get along is my most primary concern. The cats own the house… it is their domain. One is 11 years; two are 3 years, and a 7-month-old kitten. It is a houseful. We were used to a rather sedate older dog around, who was trained to ignore the cats, so she really was not a factor. A puppy though, is an entirely different matter. To start off, we sectioned off a portion of the house that included our bedroom (where the cats sleep most of the time), so that they would have a safe haven. Our puppy cannot access this area – but the cats can get in and out thanks to this amazing gate! We did have to tape a piece of cardboard on the cat door area, so it is just big enough for a cat to slink through, but not a puppy. This will work fine until puppy is a bit bigger. We also installed several Comfort Zone Feliway Plug-In’s to help with any potential anxiety. The cat’s food, water, and litter boxes have always been put where dogs cannot get to them, so we had that covered already.
I realize we are going a little overboard, and some people just plunk the puppy down and let everyone figure things out – but as I said, the house is the Cat’s House! We do not want to make them feel uncomfortable or unable to access their food, water & litter boxes. Last thing we want are inappropriate behaviors starting up, which could very well happen if the cats feel uncomfortable.
Day Two: More training with treats when Cosmo is around so both kitten and puppy think being around each other is a fun, calm activity. Our puppy got in a little chase here and there, but Cosmo didn’t seem to mind and would just hop up off the floor to safety. Our female cat ventured out on high places a few times while the puppy was out, and the two boys stayed in the bedroom, though at least ventured from underneath the bed!
Day Three: We continue our positive training, though Cosmo and the puppy seemed to have some fun chasing around the house. Cosmo still continues to not care one bit if the puppy tackles him or nips at his tail. He just dashes away and up, if he wants to get out of the way. VERY HAPPY! Our female cat is out a lot more, but cautious. The other boys are still in the bedroom, but we have seen them venture into the hallway.
Day Four: Going great! Cosmo and the puppy have much fun racing around the house, and I just can’t get over how Cosmo doesn’t care if the puppy tackles him! There has been zero aggression between the two, just play, though I try not to let chasing get out of hand. I don’t want the puppy to think chasing ALL the cats is a good thing. About the same with our other cats.
Day Five: Miracle! Our other male cats have started to come out a lot more now. They have even realized when puppy is crying, that means she is put away and can’t get to them. I have to laugh at this! They have even been seen slinking around when the puppy is napping or chewing on a toy quietly. Very good progress.
Day Six: Things continue to improve!
One Week Later: Everybody is doing very well. Our older male cats are still cautious, but out and about a lot more, even when our puppy is around. We try to work on behavior training with her so when she sees a cat, and doesn’t try to chase, she gets a treat. The puppy and Cosmo continue to do well, and I hope that one day they might be good friends. Our female cat is out a lot, creeping and hiding around watching the puppy. She did give the puppy a lesson the other day when she got too close, which was good. Puppy was SCARED at that paw smack (our cats have claws, but are well socialized and do not use them – she just smacked her and scared her) – and likely won’t be chasing that cat anytime soon – which is just right.
I’m hoping that after a few months and things are more “normal”, we’ll be able to open up the other area of the house to the puppy, but for a while, we’ll keep it as is. Besides, it’s a lot less space to have to keep track of a puppy and potential potty-mistakes!