Help save my puppy from my bullying cat
August 9, 2009 2:46 PM   Subscribe

New female puppy and a larger, older male cat, please help us keep him from eating her! (more inside)

My boyfriend and I recently adopted a 3 month old minpin/chihuahua mix (she is Molly and she is VERY small). We have cats at home, 2 of which are 14 years old and 14 lbs a piece. We read all about integrating the home and are going slowly but we've run into a problem that we cannot find any information on and it isn't with the puppy... The problem is with one of the big cats.

I don't know if it's because she's so small and it has triggered some kind of hunter instinct but one of the big guys (Hill) actively stalks and attempts to attack the puppy when they are in a room together. When she's sleeping it's not an issue, he totally ignores her then (even sleeping near to her). She is never running after or chasing him when these attacks happen (she is so scared of him now she avoids him at all costs). She is usually just walking around exploring and he will stalk her from the other side of the room and then attack her by jumping at her and hitting her. The whole attack really looks like a cat stalking his prey and not a cat defending his territory.

We've tried a few things to try to "show" Hill that Molly is a new member of our family and not food: I lay on the bed with them and pet her and then pet him hoping everyone's smells would intermingle and he would stop seeing her as food, I've carried her around while he was watching and talked nicely to her, everyone pets her and talks nicely to her (and he's been getting attention too, we've been trying to make sure no one feels left out). Granted, it has only been a few days, however this is obviously not acceptable behavior and my googling hasn't found ANYTHING about how to correct this. Everything is aimed at stopping puppies from stalking cats.

We have a vet appointment this week so we'll also bring it up then, but in the mean time, anyone have any ideas? I haven't punished the cat at all for his behavior, worrying that punishing would bring bad associations with the puppy, but this is our first puppy/cat experience so maybe there's something we're missing?
posted by trinkatot to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Make with the spray bottle already.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

First of all, pics would certainly help.

Second of all, this sounds like pretty normal bastard cat behavior (note: cat person, not a dog person..). Spray bottle is a good call, punishing the cat might make her hate the dog more, but if she's constantly stalking the dog as is, how much worse could it be? Third, feliway seems to be the cure all for bad cat behavior.

Finally, you might not have a recourse until the dog fights back.. good luck with that though, because cats have been known to win in fights against dobermans and poodles.
posted by shownomercy at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

As the others have said, what is needed here is immediate negative reinforcement for bad behavior. Make with the spray bottle already.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:09 PM on August 9, 2009

Here's a picture of the little girl, if that helps.
posted by kbanas at 3:20 PM on August 9, 2009

Here is a picture of the cat (he's the black and white one).

The only reason I was hesitant about using the spray bottle is because I didn't want to associate bad things (being sprayed with water) with the puppy, but obviously I don't want the puppy to turn into a nervous wreck. (thankfully the other cats, while not overjoyed by her presence are at least ignoring her)
posted by trinkatot at 3:27 PM on August 9, 2009

Does the cat hit with claws extended or retracted? One could be a concern, the other is a cat proving his dominance over the puppy. If the claws are retracted, I'd go for watchful waiting.

What happens after your cat hits the dog? Does he keep hitting? Does he start shaking her by the neck? Does he run away? (Can you test this but be there to make sure that nothing bad happens?)

Do you have toys (maybe catnip ones) that the cat can stalk instead? A laser pointer?

Feliway is the standard option here, though the truth is it takes way, way longer than a few days for an elderly cat to get used to a new animal and not all cats ever like dogs.
posted by jeather at 3:30 PM on August 9, 2009

Are you SURE this is stalking behaviour, and not normal "what the FUCKISTHAT!?!" cat behaviour? Because every cat I have ever owned did that slow stalking walk towards new things in the house. If the cat isn't actually hurting the puppy, I don't think this is actually stalking, that said I wouldn't allow it to continue, I would definitely not leave them alone together, and distract the cat when this starts.
posted by biscotti at 3:36 PM on August 9, 2009

Cats are not really smart enough to make a causal connection between the spray bottle and the dog such that the dog would become the cause of the wet wet. There is no feline Spinoza, the cat will just eventually realize that the "water fur bad" happens when they attack the dog and (hopefully) stop.
posted by rhizome at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2009

I didn't want to associate bad things (being sprayed with water) with the puppy,

Actually you DO want the cat to associate bad things with the puppy. Or more specifically with stalking the puppy, that's what will make the cat stop doing it. So yeah, spray bottle.
posted by shelleycat at 5:06 PM on August 9, 2009

Thanks all! Spray bottle it will be!
posted by trinkatot at 5:53 PM on August 9, 2009

Just remember you can't really use dog spray baths after this point. Man, the haunted look my dog gave me when I realized what I was doing.
posted by spec80 at 1:21 PM on August 10, 2009

Oh wow, I reversed it. Reading comprehension fail. Sorry.
posted by spec80 at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2009

Just as a follow up, after a day or two the cat just stopped the behavior and just started ignoring the puppy. So serenity returned to the household. Thanks for the helpful suggestions though!
posted by trinkatot at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2009

« Older Why did WinFS fail?   |   Cooking Diary? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.