Dogs and cats living together: mass hysteria.
February 26, 2007 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Help my cat adjust to the new neighbour's dog. She has never had to live with a dog before.

My 12 year old cat is terrified by the dog next door. We live in a block of flats and share a garden. There is no fence between us which means their dog can roam around.

She is not afraid because he is an aggressive dog but more because she has never had to deal with one before. He is a very friendly and gentle dog (a black lab) and we are on reasonably good terms with the new neighbours.

I have read tips advising that it is best to introduce pets gradually, but this is mostly for people who are introducing cats and dogs into the same household. We're a little limited in what we can do without being able to control the dog by having him on a leash or in a carrier.

Ultimately I think they will get used to each other, but are there any steps I can take now to alleviate the stress for my cat and make the transition easier for her?
posted by Sonny Jim to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think there's really much you can do to make a cat feel better about a slobbery monster encroaching on her territory. Make sure she has some nice high perches where she can feel totally safe, though, and still keep an eye on the affairs of the garden.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:44 PM on February 26, 2007

The most obvious step is to talk to the neighbors, bring them cookies or whatever, but ask them for a few minutes of their time to introduce the two animals while the dog is on a leash. If he's a black lab, he'll almost certainly play nice while your cat checks him out. Don't be upset if there's a bit of hissing and a swipe or two; just let them work it out in proximity to one another, but in a relatively controlled situation.

You may be surprised at how quickly they come to an accomodation.
posted by mediareport at 5:32 PM on February 26, 2007

Pet the lab and then let the cat smell the dog's smell off of you. It will be a lot less frightening. Really, it's not going to be any big deal, as long as the dog isn't a cat-hating psycho who climbs fences and comes right over them and pursues the cat. Labs are usually cool with cats and everything else. It's not a crazy puppy, right?
posted by Listener at 6:02 PM on February 26, 2007

Shoot I totally missed the thing about no fence. Yeah, introduce them, and watch carefully, but it should be cool, as mediareport describes.
posted by Listener at 6:03 PM on February 26, 2007

If the cat trusts you, you can use a little bit of attachment theory to try to teach the cat that the dog is okay. Get the neighbor to hold the dog on a leash, and hold the cat and gently bring him to the dog. Then pet the dog. Basically, you want to show the cat that you trust the dog and it's okay for him to trust the dog.
posted by radioamy at 6:16 PM on February 26, 2007

When we moved in together, boyfriend had 2 (mellow, lab-sized) dogs, I had a cat. We had the dogs lay down, and let the cat out. He hissed and hid behind the furniture, but eventually his curiosity got the best of him, and he came up to the dogs and started sniffing. We let the dogs sniff him back and disciplined them if they got too playful.

It was all over in 5 minutes, and they get along fine now. The important part is that the dog be in a calm, submissive state - not excitable. Work with your neighbors on this.
posted by desjardins at 6:10 AM on February 27, 2007

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