Is it at all possible to bring a cat into a house with 6 dogs?
July 19, 2013 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Can a street cat be brought into a home with 6 large dogs? My dad has 6 dogs, all very docile except for the female dog, and he wants to possibly bring his porch cat inside at some point over the next 4 months. Is this possible?

My Dad rescues dogs. It's not like he's a kenneller or anything, he's a retiree that has a heart of gold. He has six dogs, all around 100 pounds, and each was saved from either a street death or a dog pound gassing. He's got three that are shepherd/pit bull mixes, one lab/pit mix, an English bulldog, and a staffordshire terrier mix.

These aren't fighting dogs, these are my dad's babies. They're lap dogs (literally on his lap) and Dad is the king of the pack. Seriously. He loves the shit out of these dogs, and they love him. He's had each one from around a puppy, and the stories are absolutely terrible -- one dog was left in an abandoned house after being kicked by humans, one dog was a neighborhood dog that the little neighborhood thugs poured motor oil on and beat, one dog was taken from a shelter and let go on the highway, among other sucky humans stories.

Recently, like in the last several months, an awesome cat has come into his life, living on his porch. He built the cat a warm shelter for this last winter, which he lived all the way through on Dad's porch, and I don't think he can deal with another winter with the cat outside. My dad, that is. He calls the cat "Kitteth," and let me tell you -- this cat LOVES my Dad. He wants to start looking for a way to get the cat inside the house.

I get the feeling that at one point, Kitteth might have been an inside cat. It always wants inside, sleeps and eats near the door, barely ever leaves the porch (unless it's to kick another cat's ass), and starts up his little Kitteth motor any time my Dad comes near him.

Dad lives in a big house. I know there's no way for the cat to stay away from the dogs completely, and I know there is no way to keep the dogs away from the cat completely. But -- is there a way to make this happen? I either need to A) help him understand it'll work, or B) help him understand it will never work.

What do you suggest, Metafilter?
posted by Jim On Light to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Given the complete lack of information as to how the dogs would react to the cat, either continue to have the cat as an "outside" cat, or find a good home for it.

Your dad is a great guy, he's done wonderful things in adopting these pups...,but the dogs haven't been socialized to cats, this could end poorly if he brings the cat in.
posted by HuronBob at 9:06 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

This really, really depends on the individual animals. If the cat lives on the porch, the dogs and the cat must have at least seen each other on occasion. What have those encounters been like?
posted by trip and a half at 9:17 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

It’s possible, but it’s also likely to end in heartache. I would only do it if the cat and dogs were kept totally separate, which is what I do. The internet is full of stories of people who’s dogs and cats seem to get along fine until the moment when the dog kills the cat. I have one of those stories. Now I don’t feel it’s fair of me to convince a cat that it can live with the dogs safely, ask them to trust me on that, when it’s not true.
posted by bongo_x at 9:34 PM on July 19, 2013

The most important question, to me, is how the dogs are with cats.

I have a lab mix of my own. He's on the small side for a lab thing, and is the sweetest most docile pretty-boy in the neighborhood. He'll tolerate ANYTHING. Not an aggressive bone in his body. He snuggled with a blind chihuahua in the vet's waiting room today.

But I know from walking him around the neighborhood that he does not do well with cats. I'm not sure if it's that he wants to play with them, or if it's a prey drive thing, but his behavior around cats is the most aroused and over-excited I've ever seen. As a cat person it makes me sad, but I don't have any great hope for having a cat anytime soon. Despite what a sweet gentle boy he is. Despite the fact that he was a rescue and I'd do just about anything for him.

I would probably try to test the dogs one at a time around the cat -- outdoors -- and see how it goes. If all 6 dogs happen to get along fine with cats, I think you'd be OK. If even one of the dogs goes into prey mode at the sight of the cat, that's not a great sign.
posted by Sara C. at 9:34 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

My gut feeling is to think it maybe could work, but the odds aren't good. If it were to work, it would have to be on Kitteh's terms. I'd personally crack a window open (only wide enough to fit the cat and not a dog) and let the cat come and go as he pleases while your dad is home to supervise. But if the cat can get in, the cat needs to be able to easily get out and away from the dogs. Dont ever lock the cat in the house with the dogs. And your dad, being leader of the dog pack, needs to make it very clear that the cat is not to be messed with. And the cat always goes back outside when your dad does. Maybe eventually the cat'll transition to seeing inside the house as home, maybe he'll always be an outside cat. It completely and totally depends on the animals. I've known cats who could easily stand their own against 6 dogs, and I've known cats who are scared of bugs.

But you have to realize that as long as there's any sort of prey drive in any of those dogs, there's a risk to the cat. But at the same time, I like to believe the cat is smart enough not to put itself into danger, but humans shouldnt be placing the cat at risk either.
posted by cgg at 9:35 PM on July 19, 2013

no way would i chance this. you really haven't said anything about how these dogs are around cats. my guess is at least one does not like cats. with a pack of dogs and one cat it is obvious who will lose and it will likely be fatal. i'd find the cat a new home. your dad will live. the cat might not if you let it inside.
posted by wildflower at 9:50 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

We have a cat door that leads from the kitchen into the attached garage but no cat door to the outside so when the dogs get to be too much our kitty just goes into the garage and waits for us to come home. Cat doors into different rooms in the house would let the cat move around and keep the dogs somewhat at bay.

Sara C, one of my dogs goes berserk at the sight of the neighbor's cat (who likes to sit in the middle of the street and stare at our house) but when I brought a kitten home from a tool shed at work this quickly turned into this. We kept them separated for the first few days when we weren't in the room with them and he just sat outside whatever room she was in and howled, whimpered and whined like a baby until he could see her again. There may be a big difference between neighborhood cat and new little kitty sister.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:23 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm not a dog expert, BUT you've got SIX dogs, all of the bulldog group (nothing against bulldogs, but I know they're very strong). They seriously outnumber your Dad, and they could easily develop into a pack if one or more of them decided the cat looked fun and/or edible. I would suggest doing some reading about how dogs in this large of a group, and of these breeds, are qualitatively different from one or two dogs.

Your Dad might be able to make a small separate cat room, with a cat flap, for the cat to hang out in when he gets cold - but the cat will want to follow your Dad out of the room, the dogs will be curious, it's not a perfect solution.

If the situation gets out of control, there's no way your Dad could stop a bulldog or six mid-fight.

Sorry, I love kitties, and I want them to all be warm, but your Dad is really in with the dogs.
posted by amtho at 11:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Even if all of the dogs seem to get along with the cat individually, I'm not sure that you can extrapolate much from there as far as how they'll behave once they're all together as a pack of 6.

It's not that they're not nice dogs or whatever; you just can't underestimate instinct, and to attempt to do so in this situation could end really badly. How would your dad, who sounds like a gentle person who truly cares about his animals, feel if one of his beloved dogs killed the cat unintentionally? I personally don't believe that I could look at the dog the same way again, despite understanding on an intellectual level that the dog was just being a dog and had no malicious intent.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:33 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Please convince your Dad not to do this, it has 'likely cat tragedy' written all over it. With that many large, strong dogs one sudden, prey-like movement from the cat could elicit an instinctive response in the pack. If you think that only one dog would have to act aggressively only one time on one day you start to see how poor the cat's chances are.

Your Dad sounds very kind-hearted and I imagine it would pain him terribly if something awful happened. If this cat is friendly and wants to come inside then he sounds like a good potential pet for someone. Your dad should focus on finding that someone while continuing with the current arrangement.
posted by Dorothia at 2:52 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can a street cat be brought into a home with 6 large dogs? Is this possible?

It is absolutely possible to do this!

However, there's a good chance it will work out to be very, shall we say, messy for the cat. Messy in a renting a carpet cleaner sort of way.

Possible, but probably not a good idea.
posted by yohko at 8:33 AM on July 20, 2013

Never underestimate what a pack of dogs will do to a cat. Find the cat a good, safe home. Your father's house just isn't safe.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 8:45 AM on July 20, 2013

I think there is absolutely a way to have a six dog, one cat household, but this is not it. If the dogs had been raised with cats, it would be a different story, but as it stands now, six large dogs with unknown prey drives and one cat is a recipe for a dead cat. Your father would be heartbroken if he saw one of his beloved dogs snap the cat's neck, please convince him that this is a bad idea.
posted by crankylex at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2013

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