Roommate's approach to fixing his dog's bad behaviour is through telling him "don't do that", and my cat is in constant fear.
April 6, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Roommate's dog is untrained and terrorises cats. The roommate won't do anything really (except verbally address his dog "don't do that") Needless to say the dog does many things that are bad besides terrorizing my cat and another roommate's cat Like a parent with an out of control child, what do you do???

Best possible solution to this ordeal of my roommate's untrained dog and my desire to not have my cat live in constant fear?

Has anyone dealt with a situation similar to this? If so how did you fix it/approach it? The roommate does NOTHING to fix his dog's bad behaviour, except "tell" the dog to "not do that" -_____-But the dog just won't listen!! Gee I wonder why??? -___-

Some basic info:
I just adopted a cat last Saturday. I must also note that another roommate (I live with 6 people) also has a cat. I treat my cat as if he was my child, and I don't want him to leave my room, really because I'm scared that the dog who is untrained and unruly wil chase/and or injure the cat in some way. The other day I let the cat go down to the second floor (I live on the third floor of a 3-story house), and he was checking out the metal staircase that leads down to the third floor..where the dog lives. The stairs have gaps between each step. The cat was so startled by the dog's sudden barking, that he slipped and almost fell through a gap between a stair, got its leg caught in another one (could have easily broken its leg..) and rushed up back to my room.

This really pissed me off. I'll also add that the dog does the following:

-We have a whiteboard in the kitchen, and the dog's owner will write "Please don't leave food out/ containers on the floor because the dog will eat it and get sick"

I can't leave cat food out in the kitchen to feed the cats because the dog will eat it, his owner will get mad and express so on the board, which he has done several times...(what's the difference between dry dog food and dry cat food...???) This being said I must feed the cat in my room. Which sort of sucks.

-The dog will tear through garbage and eat anything that in sight that is food. He hovers like a hawk when someone is eating anything in the kitchen. Dozens of times the dog has taken garbage...and teared it to pieces all over the living room. My roommate only tells his dog "don't do that" but GEE how come the dog continues to do this? He's also torn through an entire bag of garbage...trash was everywhere...and the composte bin must be locked because he goes through that too.

-This week he barked NON-STOP for 3 days in a row.

Like I said I treat my cat as if he was my kid. I view my roommate's constantly barking dog as an out of control child whose parent(s) failed to bring it up correctly. My cat lives in the house too, and shouldn't have to live in constant fear, or even injure itself because this dog is untrained.

I really want to spray the dog with water anytime it does something that it should be corrected on but I don't want to create problems in the house!!
posted by pixienat to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it were me, I'd move out. How much time is left on your lease?
posted by brainmouse at 2:49 PM on April 6, 2012 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I have a year before I transfer to a UC (University of California) , I'm not moving out until then. Plus, I live in SF, a very ageist city and it's nearly impossible for someone under 25 to find a room to rent, that and under 25 with a cat. The dog should know better than to do whatever it does -__- Maybe I'll bring in the "dog whisperer".
posted by pixienat at 2:53 PM on April 6, 2012

Best answer: This person is being a poor roommate as well as a poor dog owner. Can you get together as a group and have a "come to Jesus" meeting with her regarding her dog? Not yelling or accusing which might put her on the defensive, but calmly stating "Your dog terrorizes my cat. This is not acceptable. Can you train your dog, crate it when you are not around, keep it in your room, rehome it, find another place to live, [other solutions]?"

This is if you still want to live there. Unless you are locked into an expensive and hard-to-wiggle-out-of lease, OR this is a dream dwelling for whatever reasons and you'd be hard-put to find something just as nice, I would move out, simply because while most Bad Dog Owners are clueless rather than malicious, this woman might either be of the "I know my dog is a nuisance but I don't care" camp or the "I know my dog is a nuisance but GRAR DEFENSIVE DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO GRAR" camp. If she's well-meaning but clueless, suggest a dog-training course (many shelters now offer them).

On preview: SF dweller! I sympathize as I used to live there with cats! See my suggestions above to have a meeting with her. Do your other roommates feel as you do, or is it just you? If you can get your other roommates in your corner, that will help a lot.

In the meantime, can you keep your cat in your room with food, water and litter? I think in this case it's very important that your cat have a safe refuge.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:56 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

This guy sounds like an ass. But. How long did you live with this dog before you decided to adopt a cat a week ago? Is it suddenly crazy bonkers dog, or was it already crazy bonkers dog and you decided to bring a cat in?

Look, the guy and his dog both sound really pretty horrible, and I would find it totally unacceptable. And I hope you find another place that is nice for both you and your cat! I'm just not sure you thought this big decision through maybe as much as you might have.
posted by Glinn at 2:58 PM on April 6, 2012 [12 favorites]

How does your other roommate manage this with their cat? It sounds like you were aware that your roommate had an untrained, unruly dog - why did you adopt a cat knowing that the dog would eat its food, chase it, etc?

Honestly, you should return the cat to the shelter if the choice is between leaving it in your room all the time or the dog harassing it all the time.

It sucks that you have to pay the price for your roommate's rowdy dog, but maybe you need to be another place before you can have a pet. If you can't move, then it's not fair to the cat.

Of course it is also worth trying to reason with the dog owner, but if he he hasn't been willing to train the dog before, this is unlikely to change. The dog shouldn't "know better". Dogs don't know what humans want from them until they get taught. If no one is willing to train this dog what TO DO, not just punishing it, of course it will eat anything and chase prey.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2012 [16 favorites]

There seems to be three issues: food in the kitchen and the dog, and your cat and the dog, and the barking and the dog.

My parents have a dog that goes through the trash or will eat off the counter if you turn your back for a moment. The dog is rather dumb. So my parents have a heavy trash can with a lid, and never leave anything on the counter. Can you ask your roommate to put the dog in his/her bedroom while you eat?

I am not sure that you can train out the dog's instincts to go after the cat. So never give the dog the opportunity. Ever. Don't let your cat eat in the kitchen. Don't let your cat within sight of the dog.

If the dog is barking, tell the owner. Make it his/her problem. Dog barks, you complain, dog shuts up for a while. Rinse, repeat. Make it more annoying for the roommate.

Finding a place when you have a cat is hard. Perhaps consider not having a cat in the first place. You've only had a cat for a week- do you have to keep it? Can you afford all the vet bills? An emergency three months from now when X happens? If not, then you can't afford a cat.
posted by Monday at 3:03 PM on April 6, 2012

Best answer: +1 on the Come To Jesus talk.
You and the rest of the roommates need to discuss this before hand, come to a definite conclusion and action plan and THEN discuss with Crappy Dog Owner.
It's like an intervention, only different.
Make sure it's fair but firm to everyone involved.
posted by THAT William Mize at 3:06 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You can train dogs to not destroy things or chase after cats. The cat was adopted from a dog rescue shelter. My friend who volunteered there could train the dogs by spraying them with water to reinforce "no" to not chase after the cat(s). I knew the dog did dumb things with the trash...but because the cat as from a dog rescue shelter I'd presume it as be fine with dogs because my cat is a cool cat who gets along with most animals. Plus the rescue got shutdown so I can't return it.

It's fine in my room and I supervise him whenever he walks around the house. Also the dog is a dachshund, not like a big pitbull or something.
posted by pixienat at 3:12 PM on April 6, 2012

I'm not saying you're overreacting, but you come off as really dramatic and that is not the approach you should take with your roommate. That will provoke defensiveness.

Some of the problems are merely logistical. Leave your bedroom door open so the cat can get in/out, but put a baby gate up so the dog cannot get in. This gives the cat a safe refuge. Do you have the whole third floor? Put the gate up at the top so the dog can't get in, problem solved.

Get a trash can with a lid. Don't leave food out anyway, that's gross. Put baby gates up so the dog can't get in the kitchen while you're eating.

Don't leave cat food where the dog can get it - there IS a difference between the two and it's not good for one species to repeatedly eat the others' food. Put it in your bedroom with the aforementioned open door.

As far as the barking, that's the part where you need to have a Serious Conversation and insist the roommate get dog training. Whether or not you keep the cat, you'll have to deal with the barking if you're not going to move.
posted by desjardins at 3:13 PM on April 6, 2012 [19 favorites]

Best answer: You've made a very bad choice to bring a new animal into an already bad situation. Since it's less than a week, if returning it is an option, I'd strongly urge you to consider that possibility. You should not have put the poor creature in this position.

If you really can't return the cat, I think your only real hope is to slowly introduce the dog and cat under controlled circumstances and let them get used to each other. Don't let the cat wander around unsupervised to eventually encounter the dog, have them deliberately meet in controlled circumstances. You may have to work on (non-violently) disciplining the dog as you go through this process.

Have your roommate agree that this is okay before you start so they don't freak out if you reprimand their dog. It may actually prove generally useful for the dog to recognize someone in the house as Alpha, and if it ain't his actual owner, it could be you if you're up to it.

I assume this was mostly a rhetorical question, but cat and dog food aren't all that similar. Dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores so the nutritional profile of their foods are very different. Cats also have a number of necessary nutritional elements that their bodies don't synthesize, so they must have them in their diet. You won't seriously harm a dog (aside from puppies, for whom cat food is too acidic), necessarily, by feeding it cat food (though feeding it nothing but cat food would be a problem long term), but feeding a cat a steady diet of dog food would kill it.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

Oh - does the cat have claws? The cat will train the dog if he gets too close, and the dog won't bother him again. It will take one swipe. Dogs' noses bleed like crazy.
posted by desjardins at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some dogs cannot live with cats. Period. You chose to get a cat and put it in this situation so you need to manage it, not the dog owner. The dog was there first.

Also cat food is very bad for dogs, you should definitely not leave it where the dog could get into it.

Desjardins, some dogs will just kill a cat that claws them, I don't think the op should take that chance.
posted by fshgrl at 3:27 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Um there was a cat that was living here before the dog arrived too.
posted by pixienat at 3:29 PM on April 6, 2012

Best answer: If the dog sees the cat as a playmate and tries to play with it as if were a dog (chasing, mouthing), that may freak the cat out at first but it's not the same thing as "terrorizing." My dog chases my cat around, tries to stick its nose up the cat's butt, puts the cat's whole head in its mouth, etc. At first the cat was petrified. Now it's merely irritated by such shenanigans, because the cat has learned that the dog means no harm and is merely... slobbery. It seems that there's at least a possibility that you're being a bit overprotective.

The constant barking would drive me nuts too, though. Sounds like the dog needs a regular exercise regimen to burn off some of that excess energy.
posted by jon1270 at 3:31 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I second the "Why did you get the cat in the first place, knowing there was an untrained dog?" and the "What about the other cat and its owner?" questions!

And want to add: Did you adopt a cat that was really familiar with dogs?(I realize it came from a dog rescue shelter) Did you introduce the new cat properly to the dog?

It is certainly not right that the cat has to deal with this level of stress on a daily basis and is restricted to only your room. Also it does not matter if the dog is small or big - if the cat is scared it is scared.

Your cat is not your child - it is a cat, with cat needs. Before adopting a pet one should familiarize oneself with the pets needs and think about if one can offer the proper living arrangements and care.
You could try to find some other place to live (even in SF).
Also try to think of smart solutions- feed the cat someplace higher where the dachshund won't get to, get bins that fit into the kitchen cabinets or requires some effort to be opened etc. Punishing the dog is not the solution here.

Does the dog annoy the other roommates as well? Get them on board and speak to the dog owner. If they are not willing to get some training for the dog or make some effort to help the situation they need to move out. A dog barking for 3 straight days is a sign that something is not right - does the dog get proper attention, walks, food? Does it get taken to the vet regularly so you know it is not having any health issues? Maybe it won't need a whole lot of effort to achieve some improvement.

P.S. Please don't feel like under attack, people try to help you.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:31 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Is the dog actively being aggressive towards your cat, or is Kitty startled by generic barking? If the dog is aggressive, then now might not be the best time to adopt a cat. You'll do much better if you work with the roommate to solve these problems first, and then get a cat after the dog is under control. But I assume the dog and the other cat get along okay, right? So it's just an issue of the dog being a nuisance, and not actively harmful to the new cat? That is much more doable.

You've only had Kitty less than a week -- he's going to easily frazzled by his new environment for awhile, and the dog is going to be equally frazzled. Neither one has acclimated to the situation yet, and so you shouldn't draw final conclusions just yet from less than a week of interaction. If neither animal is potentially dangerous to the other, they probably will get acclimated and settle down after awhile. Have you properly introduced them, and under the supervision of both you and the dog owner?

That doesn't mean the dog should continue on as-is, though. You need a meeting, and Kitty is the perfect reason to start this conversation. Your roommate definitely needs to make some of these issues go away, but won't do so if you approach it wrong. Your roommate loves the dog as much as you love the cat, so you probably won't have much success with taking an angry "YOUR dog is AWFUL and YOU'VE DONE THIS ALL WRONG" attitude like you've done in this question, even if it may be true. Ask your roommate how he's training the dog -- is there any way you can help? If he's using the water bottle method, for example, or the clicker method, offer to help reinforce that training when roommate isn't around. How should you respond when the dog begs for food when you're eating? When it barks? What you're doing with those questions is asking to help the roommate reinforce the training (and showing him you're on the same team and want the same things), but also pinning down whether the roommate is actually doing anything to train the dog. If the roommate isn't doing anything, then you can push them harder to actually start doing something.

It might be time for a big house meeting, so that everyone's on the same page about animal expectations. If roommates 1 and 2 work really hard to stop the dog's begging or barking, but roommates 5 and 6 accidentally encourage those actions, then it will be hard to actually change the dog's behavior.

You might also want to re-evaluate the behavior you expect out of the dog, as well. The conversation with the owner might be a good time to figure out what you can reasonably expect. Dogs eat things off the floor. That's just what they do. They have no problems eating poop, and they won't have any problems eating plastic or trash or compost or cat food. You probably won't be able to train the dog to never eat cat food, and to never sniff around the compost bin. Also, since the dog's a dachshund, you probably won't be able to train it to never bark. Dachshunds are a barky breed. You can absolutely expect your roommate to teach the dog to bark less, and to not get into the trash (by either training it or taking reasonable protective measures), and to not beg for food. Those are all very reasonable. But your standards for the dog right now seem unreasonable, and that will likely harm your efforts to get your roommate to train the dog at all.
posted by lilac girl at 3:37 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Um there was a cat that was living here before the dog arrived too.

Well what is special about your cat then? If the other cat and dog don't get along why did you get another cat? If they do get along why is your cat being "terrorized"? Did you discuss getting another cat with your roommates and set some ground rules? Did you research how to introduce a cat to a new place?

You are coming off as unreasonable and not knowledgeable about pets here fyi. Your cat is not a child and expecting your roommates to act as if it is, is nutty.
posted by fshgrl at 3:38 PM on April 6, 2012 [21 favorites]

Best answer: I imagine there was a conversation between you and the dog owner before you brought the cat in, discussing behavior, safety, proper introductions, deciding on how to handle territory, food, etc.?

If there was not, unfortunately, a big part of it was you fault. But that doesn't mean you can't fix it and make it work for everyone. Sit down and have that conversation now. Bring in the other cat owner as well, and come up with a game plan.

Dogs and cats are two separate species with different instincts, different training needs, different attention needs, etc. You need to understand things like prey drive, territory, safe protected space for kitty, etc. before bringing them together. (It sounds like you are a new pet owner, since it's a pretty basic fact that there is a difference in nutrients contained in dog and cat food and can create all sorts of health problems.)

Maybe do a bunch of research on how to bring in new pets into the house and share it with the dog owner. Slow introductions are good. Everyone in the house has to act the same to teach the animals anything that will stick. For example, if one of your housemates gives the dog a treat while cooking in the kitchen JUST ONCE, it will take forever to train out the hope of getting another treat.

And think positive. If you all get on board and come up with a good plan, chances are the kitty will gain confidence and the dog will accept the cat as part of the pack.
posted by Vaike at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can train dogs to not destroy things or chase after cats. The cat was adopted from a dog rescue shelter. My friend who volunteered there could train the dogs by spraying them with water to reinforce "no" to not chase after the cat(s). I knew the dog did dumb things with the trash...but because the cat as from a dog rescue shelter I'd presume it as be fine with dogs because my cat is a cool cat who gets along with most animals. Plus the rescue got shutdown so I can't return it.

It's fine in my room and I supervise him whenever he walks around the house.

OK, so you're telling us two different stories. If he's fine in your room, and you supervise him all the time, then what's the problem? Your original post said you didn't want your cat to have to live in fear, and it sounded like you didn't want him to be stuck in your room all the time either. Which is it?

You can take the cat to another shelter if the original shelter got shut down.

As for training the dog, you can try spraying him or shaking a jar full of coins to make a loud noise when he does something you don't like, but it will be most useful to train what you want him TO DO by rewarding with treats. You have to teach the dog to "leave it" (the food, the cat), and reward him with really good treats. The dog will quickly learn when you don't have your water sprayer handy, and will just continue bad behavior when it knows it's out of punishment range. It's easier to teach a dog to leave something alone through positive rewards for doing so rather than punishing. But, it also takes time and repetition to teach a dog to avoid something that it likes (eating food, chasing cats). Is the dog owner willing to take the time to train? Are you?
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You brought a rescue animal into a situation it couldn't handle, without thinking through the ramifications and without a backup plan.

Right now, you've taken on responsibility for an animal and you have to discharge that responsibility. That may mean returning the animal to the shelter, it many mean moving on, it may mean a controlled introduction. Frankly, nobody here can give you much useful advice because you're not coming off as a reliable narrator. I suggest you talk to the shelter, explain the situation and ask for their advice and help.
posted by Leon at 3:48 PM on April 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

Also, a raised feeding platform is what many people do who have dogs and cats together. At least that can solve one of your problems.
posted by Vaike at 3:52 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Fshgrl I get it you love dogs more than cats, that's cool but my child comment was me exaggerating? I don't really think of my cat as "my child", meanwhile my roommate has mentioned that he is his dog's "dad". I think of my cat as an addition to the house that we all live in and share, and his wants and needs should be respected too. Since he(roommate) has never tried to fix the dog's behaviour of chasing my roommate's cat around, or a former roommate's cat around, it wasn't until I myself got a cat that I was able to try and do something about it. The current roommate who has a cat is a terrible pet owner, that's why he never attempted to stop the dog from scaring his cat. The woman who moved out who too had a cat was an alcoholic who as never home and neglected her cat. While I liked both of those cats, it was not my responsibility to look out for them because they were not my own.. (However I'd feed them from time to time and took care of the neglected cat until her owner as kicked out). So my cat is special because it is my cat and my responsibility. The dog is annoying, and maybe I was upset because my cat almost fell through the stairs?
posted by pixienat at 3:57 PM on April 6, 2012

What did your roommates say when you talked about it before you brought the cat home?
posted by brainmouse at 4:00 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

OP, I know you feel attacked and defensive, and angry because your cat was almost hurt. But... this dog has a history of chasing cats. You brought in a cat. You haven't told us how you prepared for that, so it is our current understanding that you did not actually prepare. Not only that, but the well-being of the other cats didn't seem to matter much to you. Did you offer to adopt the cat who has a "terrible owner"? Why did you get a cat?
posted by Glinn at 4:14 PM on April 6, 2012 [16 favorites]

It sounds like perhaps this dog has been a long-term problem, and it's not a case of the dog's behavior suddenly changing with the addition of your cat. Additionally, for various reasons you don't want to move. Okay, let's go from there. You say you're one of six roommates; has this dog been a problem to all the rest of the household, or are you the only one who has objected?

If the rest of you are unanimous when it comes to disliking the dog's behavior, when you have that Come-to-Jesus meeting with the dog's owner, try suggesting that the dog owner (and their dog!) be the ones to leave.
posted by easily confused at 4:18 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is the dog chasing the cat because it's aggressive or is it just barking at something new, the cat runs and the dog being a dog chases a moving object and the cat freaked out. A week is not a lot of time for the dog and cat to work out their dynamic. If the dog is as smallish and your cat is pretty much full sized all it will honestly take for the dog to loose interest in chasing the cat is to corner it and the cat to dab it one with its claws. This is not always the best result for the dog, my brothers pitbull lost an eye when he decided to chase my cat one day, but having said that the dog will learn to respect the cat.

If you can't feed the cat on the floor is the a patch of counter space you can feed your cat on in the kitchen that the dog can't get to? Not everyone like cats on counters but it is a very effective way to keep the dog out of the cats food.

As for the dog dragging out the garbage all the time if it bothers you buy a bin with a lid, I know you shouldn't have to fork out for something someone elses dog does, but it's no fun to find rubbish everywhere and terrible dangerous for the dog to be eating rubbish anyway. Maybe your other room mates can all chip in, pedal bins aren't that expensive and are easy to use handsfree.

You might also want to invest a little time into some behinds the scene dog training, just because the dog won't behave for it's owner doesn't mean you can't get it to behave for you.

A water pistol is a great way to deter the dog you just have to be sure to squirt it while it is doing the wrong behaviour and then praise it when it stops and acts correctly. So the dog sniffing the cat quietly gets a pat and a treat, chasing the cat and it gets squirted (just don't get your poor cat by mistake). While it might not make the dog stop chasing the cat while you aren't around, it will mean your cat can come out and hang out with you in some peace and quiet.
posted by wwax at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2012

My comments have nothing to do with "not liking cats" (which isn't true). They are based on years of experience dealing with people who impulsively get animals they are not knowledgeable about and cannot or will not prepare for or care for properly.

You know how they say love is enough? It's not.
posted by fshgrl at 4:25 PM on April 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

Your current living situation - with this dog in particular - is not THE BEST environment for a cat. (I'm actually surprised that you were able to adopt a cat as a young renter).

To do the best thing for this animal, please consider returning her.
posted by k8t at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a dachshund (and two other dogs) that all get along swimmingly with both our cats. We have put a lot of work into making out multi-species household work. Your RM’s dog sounds bored and unhappy. Does he have toys? Does he get regular walks and play time? This week he barked NON-STOP for 3 days in a row. This is what bored dogs do. I know, it really sucks.

1. Best possible solution to this ordeal of my roommate's untrained dog and my desire to not have my cat live in constant fear?

The third floor needs to be a no-dog zone. Install a baby gate at the top of the steps. Cat can leave your room and dog can’t get in.

This being said I must feed the cat in my room. Which sort of sucks. Well, too bad. You knew what this dog was like before you got a cat. You should have been able to anticipate this problem and plan accordingly. In my house, we don’t feed the dogs and the cats in the same place for the same reason. Cats get fed in a room the dogs can’t get in to.

Also, you all need to stop leaving notes on a whiteboard and start talking to each other. I can’t tell from your post if this is something that you’ve already done or not.

You keep talking about your RM’s lack of responsibility in regard to his dog. But I think you need to examine how irresponsible it was of you to bring a cat into a house that is this dysfunctional. Your responsibility, in regards to your own pet, starts even before you bring them home. It starts by making sure your future pet will have a safe place to live.

Again, get a baby gate. Designate “dog areas” and “cats areas.” If you can’t do this you need to find this cat another more suitable home.

I’m afraid to ask, but… are any of these animals getting proper veterinary care? That’s a really integral part of responsible pet ownership. When you take your cat to the vet, and you need to do within the next couple of weeks if you haven’t already, you should ask for suggestions on dealing with a cat-dog household.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:12 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Also, direct your dog owning RM over to Dr. Sophia Yin's website. Excellent training resource. And EVERYONE in the house should watch the video "How Fido Learns."
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:17 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sorry for the multiple posts, but OP - you should check out this AskMeFi thread about what that couple thought about before getting a cat. Maybe it can help you in the future should you want to get another pet.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am also going to suggest declaring the third floor a dog free zone and put a baby gate at the top of the stairs. Along with this I suggest you ask the dog's owner if you can train it to not chase after your cat. Do NOT allow the dog and cat to interact without very close supervision.

Beyond the baby gate and/or training the dog, or letting the situation continue as is, your only other option is to re-home the cat.

I do sympathize with your situation. I have four cats of my own and they are my babies and I spoil them and my dog rotten. BUT, and it's a big but, I wouldn't have brought a cat into a situation like yours. Good luck with whatever you do.
posted by deborah at 8:44 PM on April 6, 2012

"The other day I let the cat go down to the second floor (I live on the third floor of a 3-story house), and he was checking out the metal staircase that leads down to the third floor..where the dog lives. The stairs have gaps between each step. The cat was so startled by the dog's sudden barking, that he slipped and almost fell through a gap between a stair, got its leg caught in another one (could have easily broken its leg..) and rushed up back to my room.
This really pissed me off."

I understand that the cat is your child, but you need to let go a little and let the kid fall down on the playground a few times. Cats are supremely graceful beings... except when they're not... and it could just as easily have been the sound of a siren or car alarm, or a leaf suddenly falling outside a window, or his own tail that startled the cat. Of course it would be terrible if your cat really did break a leg, but I think that has a lot more to do with it not being suited for these metal stairs than anything else. It'll adjust. Even if the dog and cat got along there would be sudden barking and chasing each other around the house.

Give it some more time. It's been a week. I've had cats that hadn't come out from under the bed after a week, and there were no dogs involved.

And remember that people, like animals, are territorial. The dog and dog-owner were there first. It is your job to secure the cat's space, not the dog owner's. It is your job to secure the cat's food. Imagine that a roommate of yours brought home a rabbit or guinea pig (or other prey for cats). It would totally be your roommate's responsibility to ensure its safety, since you can't drive the predator instinct out of the cat, can't supervise the cat 24/7, and it would be cruel to lock up the cat all day when it previously had the run of the house. If that roommate asked you to change a lot of things about your way of living in the house, or to train your cat, it would be a huge imposition and you would be doing them a huge favor to acquiesce. So when you talk to your roommate, please be nice and realize that they aren't obligated to do anything about their dog's behavior (which seems unruly but not dangerous). Your other option is to move out.

That said, it's the roommate's responsibility to curb other dog behaviors like the barking and trash-eating, but that's a separate conversation.
posted by ke rose ne at 9:31 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry to break it to you, but when YOU bring a new animal into the house it is YOUR responsibility to make sure it interacts well with the other animals.

The dog's barking at a new cat? Well, your roommate should be happy it has an actual dog. What YOU should do is bring the cat down, perhaps in a carrier, and introduce it to the dog. Right now both the cat and the dog knows there's another animal out there, and both of them are freaking out about it. If your cat were a puppy it would be barking as well.

If the dog was there first and the cat isn't working out, I think it would be your responsibility to get rid of the cat, and next time check with the other animals in the house before adopting animals.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 4:30 PM on June 25, 2012

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