(Pet harmony filter) A little over 3 months ago, we adopted Phoebe
, an 18-month old poodle/bichon cross. She's a fantastic dog, very well behaved, perfectly lovable and playful and awesome in every way, and we adore her. We also have 4 cats, 3 of which have settled down and seem to have gotten used her. But not Phil
. Phil hates Phoebe with white-hot kitty hate. And it's breaking my heart.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So the gist of things is that Phoebe's a very playful dog. She's completely non-aggressive and does not bark, bite, growl, or jump. However, she just LOVES to run. When we first brought the dog home, none of the cats wanted anything to do with her and they'd all dash away to hide, which the dog saw as "Oh boy!! We're playing chase! Hooray!! Fun fun fun!" and she'd bound after them. But things settled down eventually and most of the cats have figured out that if they walk around the house and go about their business normally, and don't speed around in a mad panic, Phoebe leaves them alone and everything's fine.
Phil, however, has not figured this out and relations seem to be getting worse and worse between him and the dog. He either runs in abject terror away from Phoebe (which causes the dog's chase impulse to kick in); or if the dog walks anywhere within Phil's eyesight then it's nonstop hissing, growling, ears-back, hackles up aggression on the part of the cat. Phil has advanced on Phoebe and bitten her at least twice (that I was there for) -- not enough to break the skin but enough that she yiped. The dog is now afraid of the cat. The cat's terrified of the dog. And the cat just seems to be getting more aggressive.
Last night the dog was following me around the house and we passed a room where Phil was. The dog didn't even know he was in there and walked right by him.... but when the cat saw us from his perch, he lunged across the room, out the door, and tried to attack the dog with a bite; which he would've done if I hadn't stepped in his way and yelled at him. He tried it again this morning in the kitchen. Phil has had the dog pinned in corners, as he stood growling menacingly at her (scaring the dog enough that she was shivering), multiple times. So now I'm faced with a very aggressive unhappy cat who is actively terrorizing the dog. I'm very concerned that either the cat will cause serious injury to the dog; or the dog will say "enough is enough" and bring tragic retribution back on Phil.
Some more background:
- The dog's access to the upstairs is blocked off but the cats have free reign of the whole house. I have been careful to give the cats lots of quiet, comfy, safe space to call their own.
- Phil has pretty much sequestered himself to the upstairs and rarely comes down to the main living area with us any more. The other cats are back to their normal routines.
- The dog is crated for 4-6 hours a day while we're at work, and the cats can move freely anywhere they want all day. The dog also sleeps in the bedroom with us (with the door shut), so the cats have run of the house every night.
- All cats still receive tons of affection & attention (well, for Phil, it's at least when he chills out enough to come down & say hello)
- The dog leaves the cats' stuff alone: she doesn't eat their food, try to steal their toys, or use their furniture.
- They're all indoor cats & everyone is spayed/neutered
- The dog is about 16-17 lbs. Phil is about 15-16 lbs (similar size)
- I've tried anti-anxiety meds (diazepam) on Phil, but it made no difference. He stilled hissed & growled, drowsily.
- The vet had no constructive suggestions
- I understand the reasons the cat is behaving this way (feeling threatened, upheaval in his home, his territory has changed, etc.), so I'm not looking for opinions on WHY we're having the problem, but how to fix it.
- I've tried talking to Phil and reasoning with him, but unfortunately he doesn't speak English.
So is there any hope that Phil & Phoebe will come to a truce? How? My husband seems to think they'll eventually work it out. I'm not so sure. Phil is (was?) my favorite cat, and I admit I even had dreams of him & the dog being good friends. And though I hate to think about it, I'm afraid that it will come down to re-homing Phil. (My husband thinks if anyone needs to go, it's the dog because the "cats were here first." My perspective is that the dog is perfectly happy, but it's Phil who's miserable so he may best be served by another home.) But let me reiterate, I really, really don't want to re-home anyone. Has anyone gone through this? Does it just take time? Will an animal behaviorist help? Other resources?