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Annika
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12-06-2018, 02:47 PM

How to handle this cat/puppy situation?

I have a 16 week old Eurasier puppy and two adult cats (Cat A and Cat S). Puppy is not aggressive but would love to play with the cats, and tries to get to them every time he sees them (in a playful, curious way, not a prey drive way). The cats do not want to play with the puppy. Puppy came home five days ago and the cats immediately retreated upstairs. The layout of my house is such that the cats can be upstairs and come down whenever they want, but the puppy cannot go upstairs. This works fine for Cat S, who is most an indoor cat, but Cat A is an active cat who enjoys going outdoors. In order to go outdoors, she has to come down the stairs in the lounge and go through to the kitchen in order to use the catflap, which she can usually do when she sees that puppy is asleep or out with me. The problem arises when she wants to get back in. She obviously can't see whether puppy is present and awake before she sticks her head through, and, due to the layout of the lounge and kitchen, it's impossible to prevent puppy from seeing her when she does. When he does, she immediately retreats, regardless of whether he is restrained (e.g. by a pen) or not. My solution when that happens has been to go get her from outside and carry her upstairs, but she doesn't like that and the last time retreated away from me when I had set her down (she's not traumatised or anything, just mad at me), so I'm afraid that, if I keep doing that, it will damage our relationship. On the other hand, if I just let things take their course, I'm worried that she'll stop feeling safe to ever come home and move away (there are no other places to put a cat flap which would protect her). The third option would be to lock the cat flap and keep her inside until they sort themselves out. I think this *could* work, especially given that her enormous energy will have nowhere to go except downstairs to deal with puppy, but at the same time, she hates to be confined inside. For what it's worth, I think once the pecking order is established they could be great friends (she very bold and he's totally not aggressive).

I genuinely have no idea what to do. Help, please?
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Chris
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12-06-2018, 03:40 PM
Is there a way to have your puppy in the play pen then start playing with the cats upstairs and gradually (over days) play with them a little further down the stairs at the rate your cats are comfortable with? If they will play with you this way you can progress to playing in the same room as the pup.

Also, when if you hear your cat approaching the cat flap, can you keep puppy occupied and away from it. Your cat should eventually feel brave enough to enter
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Trouble
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12-06-2018, 04:09 PM
Is there no alternative way for the cat to go in and out of the garden? Mine used to come and go through the utility room window.
If you have a crate or a play pen for the dog you can use that and contain the dog while the cat keeps you company on the sofa. If that goes well you can progress to playing on the floor with the dog safely enclosed. Cats like high surfaces to observe the dog from such as worktops or units in the lounge, just make sure all fragile items are put out of harms way. It's hard to say without knowing the layout of your rooms but for example mine would be able to jump onto the radiator covers, window sill and sideboards to stay out of the dogs reach and it would help if you could have the dog on a house line in case he gets over excited.
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Annika
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12-06-2018, 05:02 PM
Thanks both.

@Trouble, there is no other way in for the cat. This is a small/basic house and the entire downstairs consists of the kitchen and lounge, plus most of the windows open into public space (not my garden), so couldn't be left open.

The cats have both been down to sniff at him a couple of times when he's been sleeping, and at first they would sit halfway up the stairs and watch, but they seem to have stopped that altogether now, which is so depressing. Trying to lure them onto even the top step gets me nowhere.

I think I will have to get a trailing lead and be scrupulous about confining the dog any time I know the cat is outside (he is confined when I am out and during the night anyway), work on training (I had a two hour intro with a trainer today and will start puppy courses with her next week), and hope for the best. What worries/upsets me most is that they seem to have decided to stop trying to come down except to go out. They used to always be down here with me, I feel so guilty towards them.
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Trouble
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12-06-2018, 06:53 PM
I meant for you to bring them down slowly and watching for their reactions while the pup is crated or in a play pen and take it from there. Sometimes you have to take control. The cats are naturally wary but leaving them to come down in their own time when there is actually no reason for them to do so may never happen. Force the issue gently.
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Annika
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12-06-2018, 06:58 PM
I'm starting to think that the best thing to do is to use permanently (at least for the next week) confine puppy to one half of the lounge, unless I am explicitly taking him into the garden. It won't make a huge difference to him (since when I am downstairs I am in this section of the room 90% of the time, but I think it might allow the cats to feel some measure of certainly regarding where he might be at any one time. It would mean that he can't follow me to the kitchen or lie by my feet when I watch TV in the evening, does that sound cruel?
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Trouble
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12-06-2018, 07:19 PM
It sounds overly complicated to me tbh. If the pup is on a house line he can go where you go, depending on the length of lead. If he's crated first you can have the cat with you, you'll be reassuring the cat and they will be separated. Once that's ok you can let him out of the crate but on a lead while the cats are free to come and go. It's always worked for us, although I'm currently cat less as my last one died a few months back. Never had any issue introducing any of them.
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Annika
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12-06-2018, 09:06 PM
Thanks Trouble, I suppose the reason I don't see value in the house line is that the only time I'd be out of his pen when downstairs would be when I'm cooking or eating, neither of which times I would be able realistically able to safely supervise him (these moments are when the accidental chases happened).

I've managed to get hold of my vet's behavioural therapist, though, she's going to give me some advice tomorrow based on the specific layout of the house. I'll try to post updates on how we get along.
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Gnasher
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12-06-2018, 09:21 PM
As there is no question here of any animal getting physically hurt, I personally would leave them be to sort things out. I am not a cat person but my limited experience is that normally Cats Rule - which is good in this case as puppy will not be a puppy for long, he will be a large dog who hopefully has learned to respect the cats!

You sound like such a loving, caring owner I am sure your cat will sort things out for himself. My limited experience of cats is that they are their own bosses, I really would not fuss overmuch, but leave the two very different species to work out a plan between themselves!
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brenda1
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13-06-2018, 07:07 AM
I have always let my cats deal with puppies or any other dog that I have had in the house. Cats, as long as they have an escape route, either by jumping up onto something eg: table, work surface, then they will except each other. Some just take longer than others. Lets face it, the puppy will get older and then they will all live together. How old are the cat's? You haven't had the pup long yet so time is of the essence here.
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