Cat went after the dog

sweetchastityFebruary 15, 2011

Tonight my dad fell out of a chair and startled the room, cat, dogs, humans. Then our Shipoo Punkin started barking and was agitated. Dustin started to hiss at him and when Punkin came by Dustin went after him and slapped him on the backside and chased him on the sofa where my mom blocked Dustin from getting to Punkin. I grabbed Dustin by the scruff of the neck and slipped a hand under his belly where he could not scratch at me, he was hissing at me very annoyed. His tail was also all puffed out. I put him in my bedroom for a bit and let him out when it was calm but he looked at Punkin and my mom started to get scared. She doesn't know how to handle a cat fight so I gave her a can of air that usually scares off Dustin. But now she's afraid he'll go after Punkin at anytime. I think it was the fright of my dad falling down right beside him and the ensuing chaos put out by the dogs that set him off but he's never behaved this way before, except for the incident with Muffin last week (I posted here about that).

I know cats will fight for their position but with the dog? Plus Dustin didn't go after Peanut even though she was barking, Punkin and my mom both seem to have anxiety. He never really liked Punkin's energy and he usually will hiss or swat with a closed paw and run off if the dog is bothering him (yet you can find all pets sleeping on the bed so he does tolerate Punkin) but this was an aggressive attack on Punkin and I'm concerned why he'd become physical now? I've had him since summer of 2008 and even when he's at the vet and being very vocal that he is not happy with what's going on, he's never lashed out at me or the vet.

I'd appreciate some advice on how to reassure my mother. I just started college yesterday and I'll be away for part of the day and I am concerned that something might happen when I'm gone and she'll not be able to cope with it. I gave her a can of compressed air but she says she'd never think to use it in a moment of panic. Should I take Dustin to the vet to see if anything is bothering him? I've been very pleased that neither of my cats claw at the furniture despite both having their claws and am concerned that I might have to have him de-clawed to protect the puppies.

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I think you're making things worse by what you are doing. You and your mum really need to take a step back and let the animals sort out their position in the house with each other. From reading your previous post and this one, it sounds like you have two new young dogs in the house and that can really stress a cat out and he's lashing out at them and trying to put them in their place, and that is normal. If you rattle cans or spray air at him, he'll just get fired up more.

I think it would be a good idea to put your puppies on a leash and start bringing them into the room with the cats so he gets used them in a non threatening way. If they approach your cat tell them "no". Justin is behaving like a cat that is now faced with two dogs that are aggravating him, but cats are also very good at letting dogs know - I want my space and if you get in it I'm going to let you have it, and the dogs are the ones who will adjust their behaviour around justin and when they start respecting him, he wont feel threatened and will accept them and they will get along fine.

He just sounds stressed from the new puppies and any little fright is going to send him over the top right now like a commotion or a noise. focus on training the dogs and let him put them in their place - I believe it's dogs who need to learn how to live with cats. I think this may also be why he went for your other cat too, he's stressed at the dogs but he ends up taking out his aggression on her because if he tries to put the dogs in their place when they cross the line with him - he gets a can rattled at him or something else to drive his stress up.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 11:56PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I'm not sure how to reassure your mom, but giving her a can of compressed air is not a great idea. Setting a calm example and urging her to also leave the pets alone to work it out would be the wisest course. There is no need to grab anyone by the scruff of the neck or frighten them by blowing compressed air. It sounds like they were already stressed by the sudden commotion of your Dad falling.

Next time the pets have a minor scuffle, ignore them. Get up, go into the kitchen, and pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea. Learn to laugh at your pets' antics without involving yourself in them and everyone in your household will be less stressed, perhaps even your mom. Helping pets in a multiple pet household to coexist is like watching a kid learn to ride a bike. Falls and scraped knees are par for the course, and you just have to take a passive role.

I very much doubt that any puppy has *ever* been seriously hurt by a cat. My puppies got their noses smacked and shredded regularly when they were small... until they learned that the kitties did not want to play. I never intervened. They went on to live to ripe old ages alongside their feline counterparts, and it is highly unlikely your puppies will be harmed. I seriously hope that you do not maim your cats by declawing them simply because they are acting like cats.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:02AM
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Well my mom has never seen a cat fight before and her instinct was to shield/protect Punkin. I did point out, my father also backed me up on this, that Punkin needs to calm down when told to. I'm going to keep the cats in my room with a litter when I'm at school but I won't lock Dustin up and keep them apart, that will only create a rift. There hasn't really been any problems between the pets since we got the puppies last June so I guess I'm wondering why its occurring now, although the puppies are now 8 months and are adolescents, which I've read they will push to see our limits and what they can get away with.

Dustin has never had a problem with Peanut, our Chih/Terrier cross, she'd stretch out to him on her belly and he'd groom her. She has great social skills, approaching in a submissive manner. Punkin won't pass Dustin by in a doorway and sometimes barks at him (not so much at Muffin). Punkin is spoiled but that's how mom loves her dogs. I don't know if my mom could ignore and let them work it out themselves. When my brother's beagle Jackson is over and gets too close to Dustin he'll hiss and Jackson backs off. Maybe Punkin needs more exposure to different environments, dogs and people to help him develop more common sense? He also needs longer walks and discipline.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:24AM
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spedigrees z4VT

The minor skirmishes you have described were not 'cat fights.' They were little tussles, normal for pets in a multi-pet household. I would start by allowing Punkin unfettered exposure to the cats and dogs already in the household, not shake things up by exposing him to new strange animals. All your pets need space, peace, and non-interference to learn to coexist together. It sounds from your accounts that everytime they try to do this, they are being grabbed, sequestered in separate rooms, and having noisy things waved at them. A good analogy would be trying to have an important conversation with someone and being continually interrupted by several disruptive third parties.

You keep writing that your mum is very nervous around cats, but you, yourself, sound frightened and aggravated, out of proportion to the minor animousities between your pets. You have been the one to grab the cats as soon as a scuffle breaks out, taken one kitty back to a shelter for having a single argument with your dog, armed yourself and your mum with compressed air cans as if facing some dreaded enemy in battle, and brought up the possibility of de-clawing your poor cats for some imagined future threat to your dogs.

If you can learn to relax and develop a laissez faire attitude around the pets, I suspect your mom may follow suite, and I know that your pets will be less stressed. The sad part is that instead of finding joy in your varied pets, you are upsetting yourself and your pets by imagining danger where none exists.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 1:16AM
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Just relax. You're making things worse. I have five cats and two dogs and these things happen often. I yell..HEY, and let them sort it out. I never go after a cat and pick it up. They live together and if something out of the ordinary happens, they sometimes freak. It's what they do. None of them has ever hurt another.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 2:47AM
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"Well my mom has never seen a cat fight before and her instinct was to shield/protect Punkin. I did point out, my father also backed me up on this, that Punkin needs to calm down when told to. "

your mum shouldnt sheild punkin or the other dogs, sure they might cop a wack on the backside or get chased but punkin or the other dogs will wise up really quickly as a result. Cats will growl and hiss and act like they're going to kill someone but it's how they react when they get really stressed and I'd say the barking has a lot to do with it, you said punkin barks at dustin and to a cat that is grounds for a good smacking :), even if at the time punkin was barkin at the commotion, it's enough to set a cat off like that especially when he's already freaked out by your dad and then punkin's barking takes the stress to another level, if you add rattling cans or spray air into the mix it's just a disaster.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 7:27AM
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@spedigrees - Actually the cat I returned to the shelter was about 15 years ago. All the pets living here have lived together now for 7 months now with no issues which is why I'm perplexed rather then frightened. I am concerned that my mother may want me to get rid of Dustin if things don't resolve while I know they need time to settle things.

Yesterday morning I monitored (stood to the side glancing out of the corner of my eye, not standing over them or in between them) them interacting together and while Punkin displayed some uncertainty, not wanting to walk past Dustin in the hall or a doorway (which are not large, we have a small house) there seemed to be reaction from Dustin. After about 20 mins Punkin was yelping and Dustin was after him. I followed, trying not to get to involved but staying close enough to intervene if I felt it got too out of hand. I did let Dustin chase him around the living room and into the kitchen (Punkin peed a small trail all along the way) and finally I put my hand on Dustin's shoulder/back to prevent him from chasing Punkin but letting him stare, hiss and make a fuss in the kitchen. When Dustin's fur and tail settled down I let go and he didn't go after Punkin, it was all over. I didn't separate them, I didn't coddle Punkin and I took opportunities to get them near one another like offering Punkin a treat making him walk in Dustin's direction but not right next to him. There were no more incidents.

Today there hasn't been a skirmish but both Punkin and Peanut are staying on the sofa with my mom and won't wander or play like the usually do (except outside) and this has made my mom sad. Last night Dustin was wondering free when dad was over watching hockey and when Punkin started to growl or bark dad would tell him to stop or tell mom to tell him to stop. Mom started correcting Punkin and I have noticed that when he starts to bark he responds to the corrections faster than he used to. Dad was also interacting with Dustin, trying to get him to come to him on his lap and scratching his head when Dustin was close enough (all the while Punkin is behind dad, who's lying on the floor, peeking over dad's back to watch Dustin). Dad has supportive saying that all the barking is upsetting the cat and that we have to keep Punkin from barking at Dustin.

My mom has had bad nerves for many years, living with my dad, and used to say that when dad would come home her stomach would tense up in anticipation of a bad mood and she could not relax. Ever since we moved in together she no longer lives with that stress and is enjoying a more relaxing life during retirement. Now she says when Dustin just walks into the room with the dogs she gets that same tight stomach. I don't want her to start taking nerve pills again to cope with her home life and I do feel some responsibility because Dustin is my cat so I told my mom that I'm going to teach her some relaxation techniques and she's going to do them with me. I also suffer from anxiety and therapy with mindfullness and relaxation techniques have helped me greatly so I want to share some of that with my mom.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 12:26PM
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spedigrees z4VT

The problem is that by constantly trying to police your pets, and by encouraging your mom to do the same (arming her with spray cans, etc) you are creating stress for your mother and your pets. As everyone here has suggested, if you leave the pets alone to sort out their differences, you will lower the stress level in the house, for your pets, your mom, and yourself. That means not grabbing the cats, not waving noisemakers at them, not separating them, etc. It means leaving them alone, period.

What harm could it do to try taking this advice for several weeks? Things clearly aren't working out for anyone in your household the way you are handling things now.

Perhaps you and your mom could start taking the dogs out for a long walk every afternoon. It might relax all of you.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 2:04PM
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And the music from "Deliverance" is going through my head. Everybody just love someone, sometime.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 3:47PM
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So I should just leave the room? Ignore the whole thing no matter what happens?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 9:29PM
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sweetchasitity nothing will happen, dustin is just scaring punkin and as soon as she gets it that she needs to behave a certain way around him they will be fine. Your other dog peanut gets it and knows how to be around dustin without getting on his nerves, but punkin needs to learn this lesson and the more you try to intefere the longer it will take for it to play out and be over.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Will Punkin get it if he is anxious by nature? Punkin will see Dustin and growl a bit then bark a bit even after 8 months. We are now able to tell him no and he stops barking but I wonder if an animal that is anxious does not have as much common sense. I suggested to my mom to let them sort it out and she was not enthusiastic about that solution. I'm not really worried about Punkin's butt, he's fluffy enough he's not being hurt physically, I'm only concerned about his eyes and Peanut's if she gets between them (she seems to be playing the mediator role).

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 11:43PM
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In my experience I have never had a dog that didnt get it :) anxious, overconfident, it doesn't matter because dustin has him on the back foot now. You need to realise that 99% of this is bluff on dustins part, the chasing, the hissing, even the wacks are small stuff and it's working.

I know it can sound awful when punkin is running away squealing like that (my last new dog did the same thing 3 or 4 times when getting chased) and it sounds like they're being murdered or something but the cat isnt even touching them. This is just something they have to work through, dustin is fed up and he's letting punkin know his place with him and punkin is no match for the wrath of a kitty kat ;) I've been through this with every dog I've owned, and the cat always get the upper hand in the relationship.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 12:30AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Your mom is primarily a bystander by your accounts. YOU are the one taking the action. Take a different sort of initiative and just stop. You don't need your mum's endorsement to stop.

Put the noisemakers in the trash bin or at least on a shelf in the back of a closet.

And, YES, just leave the room when a scuffle breaks out, *everytime* a scuffle breaks out.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 12:53AM
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@spedigress - Mom does get involved by grabbing or shielding Punkin and soothing him which I tell her is not the best thing to do. Like the first night she almost sat on Punkin to protect him from Dustin. Now I realize that I am reacting faster to prevent her from stepping in so I'll try to stop doing that.

When I pick up either cats both dogs will automatically charge over (this is not during fights but just anytime I'm picking up a cat) and that puts the cats on edge. Should I try not to pick up the cats at all until this settles down? It's like when you pick up a small dog at the dog park that wants to get away from larger dogs, but even when I am sitting down and Dustin wants on my lap the dogs want to get involved. Is that dominance on the puppies part? Also my dad told mom the stupidest thing the other night, that Punkin better be careful or Dustin with scratch his eyes out. I quickly reassured her but she tends to listen to him more than me. I know cats might accidentally scratch an eye but has anyone heard of a cat going all out scratching another animals eyes?

I'm going to try letting them work things out and help mom do the same, which might be hard since Punkin goes straight for her wanting to be picked up, but should we just behave like normal? Like I moved the cats' food upstairs just recently and the dogs get excited when I go to feed the cats. Should I move it back downstairs where it used to be? If we are watching TV and Dustin comes on my lap should I let him and give him affection even when the dogs try to come onto my chair from the sofa? If they start growling or barking should we tell them to stop or let Dustin tell them when he's had enough? Also I've found the cats raising the hair on their back and puffing out their tails when no dogs around, will these incidents with the dogs affect the cats' behaviour with each other as well while its being resolved? Actually the first fight that broke out was between the cats not the dogs. I know most of my anxiety is centered around us humans but having started college this week I don't have a lot of time to dedicate towards self-therapy so I'll just start meditating and encourage my mom to join me.

Also is it possible that Punkin not being neutered is a factor? If he's neutered will he be more mellow? We plan to have him neutered but for financial reasons we spayed Peanut first and were going to neuter him this year.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 1:45PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I think that your new resolve to let the pets sort things out is admirable, and a big, huge step in the right direction. If you can get your mom on board too, then you could both go off into another room to make coffee or fold laundry or occupy yourself in a similar way if a scuffle breaks out.

(If there is a special show or movie on TV that you really want to see with no interruptions you might lock the cats out of the room while things are calm before the program begins so that no arguments occur between the pets while you are watching.)

To the best of my memory none of my cats ever drew blood when smacking my puppies in the past. When I wrote in a previous post that they got their noses "shredded" regularly I was using imagery and exaggeration to make the point that these conflicts are normal and commonplace. One of my cats did claw the nose of a neighbor's German shepherd once who came up onto the front porch where my cat was sleeping and, judging from the yelps of the retreating dog, probably drew blood. Cats can distinguish between a strange dog who doesn't belong and a dog who is a member of the household, and the latter is treated with more tolerance and restraint even when the cat is meting out discipline to its doggie housemate.

No dog or cat in my experience has ever had its eye clawed by a cat. All animals have a protective reflex to close their eye lids if an object approaches.

The Siamese cat I had when I was a kid was quite a fighter and used to really get into it with strange cats in the neighborhood. I am talking actual real cat fights here, not a tussle between housemate kitties. He came home frequently with bite and claw wounds, some *near* his eyes, but his pretty blue eyes lasted him a lifetime unmarred.

If one of your cats should inflict a wound on one of their housemates I'd recommend that you treat it with peroxide for a few days to prevent an infection, as you would with any puncture wound. But I really doubt that any of your pets will have skin broken on their noses, and having an eye clawed out is only slightly more likely than being hit with falling debris from a satellite.

Unneutered dogs can be a bit more feisty, but since you plan on neutering Punkin this year anyways, it sounds like you have this covered.

I've always fed my pets separately to avoid fights. I would keep on feeding your kitties separately from your dogs just as you are doing now. This is a good policy. Everyone deserves to be able to eat in peace. Food is a key thing that tends to provoke conflicts, and your pets are already in conflict over their own space and place in the household. Your pets need to sort out the issues of their place in the heirarchy, but there is no point in giving them something else to argue over.

If prescribed medication helps you and your mom to overcome your anxieties then it is a good idea to take the medication according to the doctor's directions. If you have time amidst your school work to fit in a walk with your mom and the dogs everyday, I also think this would have immeasurable relaxing effects. Punkin might be aggravating the cat simply because he has excess energy to burn with no outlet for it. A tired dog is always a good dog.

Anyways good luck with your college studies and try not to worry over the critters!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Thank you all for your support!

We've discussed the matter and are going ahead to have Punkin neutered sooner and will call the vet on Tuesday since Monday is family day. I'm also keeping a closer eye on Dustin's claws since my mother said that is what concerns her most. We don't walk together often since I like to walk them first thing in the morning, before any of us have eaten, and mom tends to go around 1 pm. We have been hampered with the winter weather but got a pair of those grippers that slip on your shoes to help with poor sidewalks.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 9:52PM
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The dogs need some basic obedience. They shouldn't be allowed to rush over and annoy the cats when you go to pick them up. No wonder the cat is lashing out. He's trying to do the discipline that your family should be doing. I'm not trying to be critical, just realistic. Sit, stay, place, all of those would go a long way to helping the situation. Dogs and particularly puppies need more exercise than just a walk a couple times a day. Do they get any running around play time? Bones or Kongs or Nylabones, to occupy them and use up energy?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 2:25AM
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I'm embarrassed to admit but my mom is in better shape than me when it comes to walking. She can go for an hour or hour and half. I can go for 30-45 minutes but a bit slower pace. But with the snow this winter the sidewalks are not always safe. Mom has a bad knee and must be careful. I'm not afraid of hurting myself but I'm afraid I might slip and fall and hurt one of the puppies when I go down. We bought some grip ons from Mark's Work Warehouse but they are too small so I'm going today to exchange them for a larger size.

We let them out in the backyard and they run, full-speed, around chasing each other. Inside I'll let them chase a laser light up and down the hall and Peanut loves to chase a stuffed toy down the stairs to the landing. It is easier to exercise Peanut since she's got a high prey drive. We don't have and can't afford a treadmill at this time but if anyone has any other exercises we can engage in indoors I'd love to hear them. We have a good sized basement but I've blocked it off since that is where the cat's food and litter was (Peanut eats lil bits of litter on the ground around the front of the litter box, its wheat litter). I'm looking for ways to store the box where the cats can get at it but not the dogs.

How much exercise do the puppies need? Does it need to be in a structured manner? Everyday at 3pm toss a ball sorta thing? Also should they have some downtime in crates? Peanut took to a crate with no issues but Punkin had a harder time and mom didn't like him to be all locked up.

@coconut-nj - I know you aren't being critical, I know we aren't exercising them as much as in the Summer/Fall (which could be why we are having trouble now). They need more exercise and discipline.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 1:27PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Actually it sounds to me like your dogs are getting quite a bit of exercise. It IS hard in winter with the ice, but it sounds like you are doing quite well despite the winter conditions.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 2:04PM
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If all pets are sterilized (didn't realize here that one wasn't) there shouldn't be any aggression problems on a serious level. All the pets will find their place in the hierarchy and usually the cats rule. That will be just fine for the dogs. Stay out of their problems and they won't be a problem for you!

How would you and your mother like to be micro-managed?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 3:27PM
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