another 'is this the right time, etc.' adopt question

cheryl_pAugust 22, 2010

Advice/suggestions requested from you experienced folks please? It's been 5 years since dog paws have tracked my floors but boy, the urge is upon me more and more lately. Especially so since I now volunteer at an animal rescue weekly. Thing is though, I now share 'home' with 2 cats one (2 yrs old) which reacts with calm and curiosity whenever I dogsit & the other which is 8- 10 years old & is a most finicky one. She disappears for a day but will come up from the basement after about 24 hours IF she can detect the dog I'm sitting is crated. Also This older one has lately become very clingy to me for some reason - I do see the dynamics between the 2 cats becoming more equalized lately. My house is just under 1000 sq,ft but I have a fenced yard. My dog was a shepard mix and the only pet at the time; I'd love another smart working dog one day. So, thoughts in mind: 1.Start by fostering a small mature dog that is "good" with cats. 2. Foster a 2+ month old pup that is "cat-sized" with no formed opinions on cats yet. The cats might feel less threatened by size which would increase unknowingly for them AND the dog would learn about cats. 3. Wait until that special dog (shepherd mix, etc.) shows up at a rescue and just speaks to me....then maybe I can get off the fence!! Several have passed me by already and I gritted my teeth......I love my cats endlessly, but miss so much that special something that a dog and human share.

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Cats will adapt easily to a new fur baby coming into the house,it may take awhile but they will adapt in time. I say go for it,get that shepherd mix you want so badly or another breed that needs a forever home. I swore after my last rottie died of cancer I would never get another dog, well that lasted all of 2 months when I got a call about a dog that needed a home and 9 months later we are a happy family. My older cat took to the new dog faster than I did LOL.. Good Luck and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 4:07PM
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Well, I disagree with christine. Your cats are not going to adjust quickly --indoor cats don't tend to. They will go through all of the annoying problems like peeing on your bed, etc. That said -- if you want a dog, go for it and just know that it might take many months for your cats to lovey up to that new family member.

We now have 7 cats (three adults - four kittens/indoor-outdoor) and they were all used to dogs since we have one and our grandkids have several that they bring with them when they visit. So, when we brought a new dog into our family last week, the cats all just thought it was another friend that they could tease constantly. We did make sure when we adopted the new dog that he was used to having cats around and was good with them.

I think that is something you want to consider --- dogs that are used to cats/other dogs/chickens/etc. will be more gentle with your cats.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 4:27PM
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I vote for a combination of numbers 1 and 3. Wait until a special dog comes along who "speaks" to you, then offer to foster him on a trial basis with the option to adopt if your cats adapt well to him. I would NOT recommend adopting a puppy. Puppies are unknown quantities. You never know how they will respond to cats as mature adults, no matter how diligently you train them as puppies. To improve your odds of a happy canine integration into your family, adopt an adult dog with a known, peaceful cat history.

I agree with carmen_grower. It's likely to take your cats some time, esp. the older cat, to accept a canine family member. Developing an outwardly friendly relationship with a dog may or may not ever happen.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 5:54PM
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Find a dog that is known to ignore cats.

My daughters friend got a dog (terrier mix) five months ago and their two resident cats now pretty much live in the basement.

It is a shame because they were nice, friendly cats. The hyper dog is just too much for them.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 8:48AM
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Cheryl, if you saw my post about possibly adding a new dog to our house, then you know I am probably not the right person to offer any advice! But I feel for you, because I also miss the special type of relationship you can have with a dog.

Even though we've decided we need to wait a while, I waffle a lot between older dog and pup. I like the idea of getting a young, but grown dog who is through all the puppy stages and is ready for training and being a household dog. Unfortunately, most of the lab/lab mixes I see at rescues are not cat compatible, so I'm not certain that an older dog is going to be "it" in the end. Our last dog spent most of her time inside, and DH seems to think if we eventually adopt an older dog, it is probably going to prefer to be outside more of the time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to take into consideration.

We've had two puppies in the past, and while they are a lot of work, they did seem to become cat friendly rather easily. The cats may not reciprocate in kind, and that's a risk you have to decide you are willing to take. One trick that I think helps our cats cope is to give them high perches an spaces, where they can feel safe and watch what is going on at the same time. I found this to be important when our human toddler became a little too energetic for the cats. Ours have a floor to ceiling cat tree and they can get up all the way to the ceiling and just watch and adjust without fear of being threatened. I also cleaned off some spaces on closet shelves where they were welcome to hide and sleep- they loved that. What I found with the human baby situation was that the less of a mystery she was to them, the sooner they got bored and didn't feel threatened by her. The cats watched her for a while, got use to her noises from a vantage point where they felt safe, and then they began to mostly ignore her.

Though a puppy or dog has the potential to be a pest, I am hoping that by giving the cats the upper hand of safety and observation sites, that they might adjust more quickly. Everything like this is great in theory though!

Do you see many grown shepherds at rescues that are listed to be cat friendly? Since shepherds have a bit of a natural chase instinct, I would wonder about that. My mom got a part border collie at a shelter, and while she's a wonderful dog otherwise, if she sees a cat, she hunches to the ground and goes into that chase instinct. We had a lab/german shepherd who was very good with cats, though we got her as a pup.

Good luck with your decision/search. My heart is right there with you.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:26AM
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Hi Cheryl -

If you are open to fostering, I think that's a really great way to test the waters! You'd be helping out a dog in need while not committing yourself to a lifetime of unhappiness if your cats totally reject the dog. There is a good possibility that your older cat will never adjust to a dog.
It's going to take some time to see how that really works out.

Chances are if you are patient enough, you'll find that 'special dog' needing a foster home :). A puppy is going to view both of your cats as furry, four-legged playmates. I'd be hesitant that such an energetic little pup may drive your older cat into continuous hiding.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 11:24AM
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I disagree totally about indoor cats not adjusting to a introduced dog. I have five totally indoor cats, and two years ago adopted a Boston /Sheltie mix. He was a little submissive coming into the house but there never was a problem with the cats ..ever from day one, and none of my cats except the oldest one had ever even seen a dog. My oldest was here when I had the greyhound, and she loved her. BTW Ziggy was 7 months old, not a small puppy, 20 lbs and completely housebroken. Fast forward two years later and in May we rescued a 3 year old purebred Dachshund from a kill shelter. Wally walked in ,the cats looked at him ,he looked at the cats and there has never been a problem. Ziggy occasionally will "play fight" with a few of the cats and they will play and then chase HIM if they're bored of it. Wally ignores them all. My advice would be to either foster the type of dog you want or wait till ones shows up. I wouldn't get a puppy.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 12:05PM
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