Can't we all just get along?
June 16, 2013 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Please help me to help my cat and new dog get along.

Well, the dog isn't really new. My mom got him 9 years ago as a puppy, right before I went to college, and she took care of him until she passed away a year and a half ago. My aunt adopted him after that, and a week ago asked if I wanted to bring him home with me. The dog is a toy poodle and I know him very well.

I have a 5-year-old cat who is pretty easy going. I introduced the dog last week, keeping him separated while I was out of the house. The websites I've checked mostly say to keep the cat and dog separated at all times until you know how the two animals will react to one another. I will admit that I skipped over this part because I know both animals very well. Most of the time they're fine; they occasionally make eye contact and sniff one another, mostly ignoring the other. Sometimes there's hissing or a slight growl. But every now and then my dog chases the cat across the room. He does not seem to be pursuing the cat for anything more than a few seconds and the cat always gets away. There are high places for the cat to escape to. The cat has never been hurt. Whenever I catch the dog chasing the cat I give a firm "NO" and put him in the kitchen behind a babygate.

My questions are as such:
1. How long, on average, will it take for the two animals to become comfortable with one another?
2. Is some amount of chasing just going to be the norm?
3. How will I know if the two will not be able to get along? My aunt said I could bring the dog back if things weren't working out, but I'd like to give things a fair shot because the dog was my mom's and since she's no longer here, I'd like to have the opportunity to care for him.

Thanks in advance
posted by thank you silence to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
Two things occur to me:

The dog has not been with you for long, and is probably still confused after a change of owner and home. You need to give this more time – others may have a better sense of time frame than I do, here.

The dog is not young. Since it's the dog chasing the cat you're probably fine. If you had a situation where a younger animal was chasing and possibly harassing an older animal that would be more of an issue.
posted by zadcat at 8:35 PM on June 16, 2013

1. Over the next year or so they should come to accept their new roommate, but I wouldn't get your hopes up over them ever being friends.
2. Yes, but discourage it as often as you are able. The dog should definitely be corrected for this behavior.
3. Since they are both well into the adult stage, there's a high chance that they will never get along.
Can you baby-gate off a bedroom that the cat can jump into but the dog can't?
That's how I keep the peace around here between a small dog and a cat who were introduced almost 3 years ago at ages 2 and 6. The cat still loathes the dogs existence with a great passion and the dog still takes chase briefly once a week, but with the introduction of 2 'safe' rooms for the cat, and the dog's advancing laziness, We've almost entirely eliminated the drama.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 9:53 PM on June 16, 2013

Our young dog still chases our 6-year-old cat that way after 2 years of having them together. The cat can jump higher, fit into small spaces and go into parts of the house (basement) where the dog isn't allowed, but even if the dog catches up with it there is no apparent threat of real damage. As far as we can tell, the dog just wants the cat to play, and expects it to play as if it were a dog, whereas the cat just wants the dog to buzz off. When things are calmer, they'll share a couch and even occasionally snuggle.

That said, our dog isn't into biting even when playing with other dogs, and we usually crate her when we leave the house. There also hasn't been any growling or hissing, just rambunctiousness and mild irritation, so YMMV.
posted by jon1270 at 3:04 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Our 14 yr old husky and 12 yr old moggy still have the odd chase. As long as it isnt aggresive and the cat can flee don't worry. Giving them a space of their own helps a lot in terms of general wellbeing.
posted by BenPens at 4:15 AM on June 17, 2013

It sounds to me like they're relatively comfortable with each other now. They'll be in the same room, make eye contact, and sniff each other--that's all comfort-level stuff. By comparison, I've introduced three adult dogs to my household of six adult cats; the dogs have all been here for 3+ years, and I've got one cat who still won't be on the ground if the dogs are in the room. Most of my cats started at the omg what a dog, away! level of interaction. There are a few who will now happily sleep with and groom the dog, but most of them just ignore the dogs. They're cats--ignoring is kinda what they do. It's relatively uncommon, in my experience, to have the dog-and-cat-as-BFFs relationships that the internet so loves to coo over.

The chasing thing is normal, as well, IMO. Scold the dog when you see it happening, but if the dog's not snapping at the cat when he does it, I wouldn't worry too much. Make sure your cat has dog-free areas, either areas up off the ground or a gated-off part of the house, and I think you'll be fine.
posted by MeghanC at 6:48 AM on June 17, 2013

If it's only been a week I would say this is a pretty good level of getting along. Remember the dog isn't going to start to feel really settled in it's new home and routine for at least a few more weeks and it will probably take easily a few months before you'll have a more complete idea of how they are getting along. From what you've said though I'd say it bodes well, while they may not ever be best buddies they will most likely learn to live together.

posted by wwax at 9:00 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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