By special request, today’s blog entry is about puppies and cats. Maybe your new puppy is suddenly obsessed with your cat. Or maybe your cat won’t leave your puppy alone. You may be wondering if it’s safe to let them play. Here are some guidelines to get their peaceful coexistence off on the right track:
However amusing it may seem, it is not a good idea to let your puppy rehearse chasing or poking your kitty with his nose. It’s not fair to either of them, and one of them could be injured (if you will, please picture puppy eyeball or nose and kitty claw meeting. Yowza!). Don’t wing it.
Baby-gate a room or two for your pup to roam free, allowing your cat to determine how close she gets to the other side of the gate.
Let your pup drag a long line so you can step on it quickly in case he gets the urge to chase the kitty. Provide your puppy with appropriate chase outlets like fetch and chasing you in come-when-called games.
Keep a handful of treats in your pocket and each time your puppy’s attention turns to your cat, say “good!” and pop a treat in his mouth. Your puppy will figure out that the appearance of the cat predicts getting a goodie from you, rather than the start of a chase game. Regardless of your puppy’s intentions with the cat, if you prevent chasing with a drag line and you are consistent with the treats, soon (usually in just a few days) your pup will see the cat and this will prompt him to look at you. Cool!
Make sure your cat has escape routes (like the ability to jump over, or scamper under, a baby gate).
Consider keeping the cat’s food up high so he or she can eat in peace.
Keep the litter box in a space that only the cat can reach, or the puppy will find a special snack there and you will never, ever want him to lick your face again.
If your cat is one of those precocious types who tries to entice your puppy by strutting right under his nose to get something started, at least get it on video so the rest of us can enjoy it. Meanwhile keep up your puppy’s training and be glad your cat is not afraid of him. Who knows, they may even play. Just make sure they are calm enough that you can easily interrupt them by calling the puppy to you (reward like bananas!). If he ignores you, interrupt much sooner in the action next time, and meanwhile consider saying something like “too bad” or “whoopsie” and separating them. When he figures out that getting too fired up ends the game, he will learn to regulate his own arousal. That would be the cat’s meow, don’t you think?