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Is it too late to unite Shiba and Cat?
  • I've had my cat for 6 years, since my folks passed away. She grew up an "only" cat, with my elderly folks. She is now around 9 years old. Django came to us as a stray a few years ago. I have no idea what his history with cats is. So far we have kept them separate. Fortunately it is possible because we have an upstairs, where the cat lives, while the dog lives downstairs. I think it is manageable this way, but I wonder if they both might actually want to know each other. I have read so many stories of people who's cats and Shibas get along fine. But he has shown some aggression, especially protecting things, like favorite toy or food... and she also has shown some aggressive behavior, when startled by sounds or when she thinks she is trapped. And like I said, I don't know his history. I think he grew up sort of wild, in a farm situation. They have met, with him on leash, and her near her door to the upstairs. He was extremely curious, and playful, and wanted to chase her when she ran away. She hissed and swiped at him with her "talons"... We worry about her taking out one of his eyes, and fear him running her down like a rabbit and shaking her to bits.

    It's been a few years now. I wonder if she is lonely when we are downstairs with him, or if he feels there is something wrong with him that we don't allow him to know her. He often goes to the door and listens for her. She often sits at the door, and when we open it, runs away.

    I have never had a dog who I felt couldn't get along with cats. We always had both when I was growing up. But this little fellow is so unusual to me. I honestly don't know what to expect. I didn't raise him from a pup, you know. I love him very very much, but there are situations where I can't expect him to behave the way my Shepard did, like not running away when the door opens, and not biting the hand that feeds him, so to speak.

    Is it to late to try to unite them? And how?
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 09:15:07
  • jjlcjjlc
    Posts: 66
    Our cat is 12'ish and a life long indoor cat with no dog exposure. Miko is just over 1yo now. She likes to chase the cat, run her down, but it's playful, not violent. We spent time socializing them together, making them be in the room together and checking Miko when she would get too pushy. I still spend more time than I like saying LEAVE IT when she harasses the cat, which works for a while, but she keeps doing it and the cat keeps coming around her. I could have probably ended it a long time ago if I disciplined Miko more for it, but since it's always seemed more play than aggression I let it go. So at the very least they have some sort of uneasy truce where the cat may not trust her, but she's not afraid of her to the point that she won't come around and in the end, they're animals, they know what to do. If she was scared, she wouldn't come around the dog and if the dog wanted to hurt her, it would have happened by now. Often times the cat will sit on the edge of the bed and miko will jump up at her over and over again while the cat pops her in the face each time. Sometimes she'll just sit there and let the cat hiss and swat her 4-5 times in a row. It annoys me more than it seems to bother the cat because I'd imagine if she was terribly bothered she could have used her claws to send a more definitive message.

    All in all I would say sure, go for it. Hang out with them and manage them as needed. Cats can take care of themselves and the shiba is smart enough to get it as long as you do your part in teaching it where the line is.
  • KimuraKimura
    Posts: 191
  • @roxanne I know how you feel. I just got Kimura from @Kimura a week ago. She's still in puppy-hood, but I didn't raise her from a baby, so I don't feel I know her as well as if I had have. Introducing a puppy to cats, or a kitten to a dog, is easier than introducing adults, or near-adults of both. Adults aren't as easily used to the new and novel, so it takes time. When we got Mieko as a puppy, we let her around the cats, and because they were bigger than her, and could push her around, it was no problem. Now she's bigger than them, and pushes them around, but they mostly tolerate it, like @jjlc's cat.
    With that being said, I know it's easy to adopt the "animals know how to take care of themselves" attitude, but I don't personally recommend it...Yes, they can take care of themselves, but usually by harming the thing they need to get rid of. We want to avoid that, so I wouldn't like to leave the cat and dog together without supervision, unless 100% friendliness exists between them (and even them, I'm paranoid, so...LOL)
    Anyways, I don't think it's really too late for you to ever introduce them, as long as your dog is obedient to some extent, and your cat respects you. You know your animals, and can feel them out better than anyone who may give advice, so you'll need to progress how you feel, but here are things I'm doing, or would suggest doing.

    1. Determine which one you think is going to be afraid. I'd assume it's the cat. If so, I'd put the dog in a kennel, one of the covered plastic ones, and bring him into the cat's space. Sit down and talk to him with the cat in the room, coax the cat over. Chances are she's going to be curious, and will come over to sniff around the crate. Expect some growling, puffing and hissing from kitty. Depending on the dog's personality, he may start squirming around in the crate, may be calm, may start barking. Be expecting of these different behaviours. Don't try to handle the cat, for your own sake. I would suggest having treats for both, give the dog treats through the crate, and place cat treats in a reasonable distance from the crate so they associate good things with being near each other.
    I did this with Mieko and the cats the first day we brought her home as a puppy, and the cats would be growling and chewing the treats at the same time, it's pretty funny to listen to and watch.
    If you think both animals are going to be scared, you can do this with both of them in crates to gradually get them used to each other. If this is the case, I'd alternate what rooms you do it in, so they're both in different territory. If it's the dog that's scared, bring the cat to the dog, or vice versa.
    Judge the best length of time for doing this based on how stressed out you think the animals are. You don't want to put them through too much, so I would start out for a short period of time, and work up to longer timeframes as they get more comfortable.
    For this, I would also suggest swapping a blanket of each, if they have one. Give the dog something that smells like the cat, and the cat something that smells like the dog, so they're used to each others' scents, if they're not already from being in the same house. This might not be necessary for you.

    2. Once they seem comfortable enough with this exercise, I'd start with tethering. Again, depending on your animals, this may not be an easy exercise. My cat is very laid back, but Kimura is VERY energetic, so I have to tether Kimura to my waist. I don't recommend doing this with just a collar, as if there's much pulling you might have a strangled dog. Also, if the collar comes off, it can get scary! I'd suggest a harness, or gentle leader, or something along those lines. Something that gives you a better control over the dog's movements. If you have a cat who is likely to attack just at the sight of the dog, I would suggest having someone help you, and have her harnessed as well.
    Anyways, with one or both animals harnessed, bring the harnessed animal to the room other is in (in my case, it'd be bringing Kimura to my cat with her harness on). Try to make it so that when you come in, the animals are on two separate sides of the room. I would suggest closing the door if you're okay with it, just so the unharnessed animal doesn't make a run for it, before any progress is made. Your call, though, if you feel like locking everyone up together could lead to an unpredictable mess, then leave the door open, by all means!
    Once you're all in the room, sit down with the harnessed animal. Have lots of treats handy, both cat and dog. Hold the harnessed animal by your side, and if he's looking at the other animal, start talking to him, trying to get him to look at you. As soon as he does, praise him and give him a treat. When you feel like you've been able to break the harnessed animal's concentration on the other, toss the unharnessed animal a treat. When she looks down to eat the treat, scooch a little closer. For me, this was a matter of inches. Depending on how brave you are, it could be more or could be less. I'd continue doing this, trying to keep the harnessed animal from staring down the unharnessed one (this can result in barking, hissing, growling, etc. if their eyes lock for too long. Kimura had a bit of an issue with staring Mac down, so to avoid the negative effects of this I'd just gently put my hand on the side of Kimura's face and try to guide her face to look at mine. If she'd stay looking at my face, I'd praise her and give her a treat. If this didn't work, I'd put the treat in front of her face, then move it to in front of me, so she'd stare that direction at the treat. Count to 5 or so, then give it to her with lots of praise. This can be worked into making her break her stare).
    Scooch as close as you feel comfortable for the agitation level of the animals. You do NOT want this to end with barking, growling, etc. You want it to end on a good note, so both animals continue to feel like being together means lots of treats and praise.
    Post edited by MinnieMacaroni at 2013-02-02 20:37:09
  • 3. You can do this along-side of 2, or wait until you get the animals more comfortable together. I tether Kimura to my waist or ankle, and do chores around the room the cats are in. I keep a bag of treats with me and drop them to her periodically, so she stays by my side. The cat usually perches somewhere he's comfortable, but is usually only partially out of Kimura's reach. This particular one is one I'm having trouble with, but it's still helping...Just be careful, because it can send you back several steps. With the tether, you have to be sure you're never in reach of the cat, even when the tether is fully stretched out. If you do, the dog can get to the cat, and it somewhat breaks the trust. You'll likely find that even tethered out of reach, the dog will run at the cat when he thinks he can. This will scare the begeezus out of the cat, but after she realizes that the dog can't get to her, she'll calm a bit. I do this one a lot while I'm doing dishes, etc. Mac (my cat) likes to sit on a little side table and watch me, and Kimura likes to be with me. I still try to give Mac and Kimura both treats during this one, but again, be careful not to get too close to the cat. This was the problem I had, in going to give treats to Mac, I'd let Kimura's tether too close so she'd get to Mac and he'd run off.
    I don't think this step would be helpful if your cat is the aggressor, lol.

    4. Similar to step 2, but you need to be able to bring the two in the room and sit down with them together. I have one on each side. I get a treat that both of them will like (usually cheese) and all 3 of us share it. I make Kimura sit, and stay, while I give Mac his piece of cheese. Then I give Kimura hers. I like to give Mac his first, because it lets Kimura know that I am in control of the situation, and if she tries to take over, no cheese for her.

    5. This one is extra tricky, and can backfire easily. It's simply letting the dog and cat run around like normal, but with the dog's leash trailing behind him. Keep a close eye, and if he starts to run at the cat, step on the leash to stop him. This allows him freedom, but also keeps him in check. It's tricky, though, because they're crazy fast, so you have to be too. And it can also send you back several steps depending on your cat. I've been trying to do this one, but Kimura's been too quick for me. I'm saving it until we get more comfortable with the above steps. After this, you can move on to letting the dog off leash to let them stay together, and hopefully from there they can be in the same room without fighting.

    So far, all of these are working for me, with the exception of five, lol. You don't necessarily need to do them in that order, but I'd suggest it at least until you're comfortable in all of them. I've only had Kimura a week, so am still working on all of them but step 1. When I first brought Kimura in, Mac didn't seem to care. My other cat, Minnie, puffed and growled, but she hides out of Kimura's reach all of the time. She follows Mac loyally, though, so I figure once I get Kimura and Mac together, then I can work on Minnie. I live in an apartment, so don't have as much freedom for separating the animals, so they spend a lot of time in close proximity anyways (closer than they'd like, no doubt).

    No matter what you do, it will require time and dedication. I'm seeing progress, but it's slower than I'd like, lol. I just want us all to be friends! I use very high-value treats, like the cheese, during these exercises, so they look forward to them. I try to use only that treat for these exercises.

    I also think it's worth noting that, because Kimura doesn't like her gentle leader, and calms down into almost a different dog, I don't like to use it for these exercises. I want her to be herself, but know she needs to draw a line. If she attacks the cats, either in step 5 or from surprise-bursting out of the door when I open it, then taking off like a bat out of...Y'know...Then I make an exception, and put her gentle leader on, and tether her to myself while I sit calmly and do something, like read a book, with the cats around. This usually calms her right down, and she'll just mope around on the floor. Mac has actually come and sat in my lap during this, because Kimura was so quiet that he didn't know she was there!

    These things may or may not work for you, but they're what I've been working at. My cats still love me, they haven't had their spirits broken, and Kimura is still her happy and silly self. That's what's most important to me, and why I like trying these techniques. I don't think they're too horribly stressful on either animal (although if Kimura chases the cats, they're not too happy with me right away).

    Either way, I wish you luck if you decide to introduce them! It's tough, and takes patience and dedication, like most things with a dog. :) But if you put your heart and mind to it, I know you'll see results.
  • Thank you for all the great advice! I have a week off work so I intend to start today. I'll keep you all posted.
  • DianaBostonDianaBoston
    Posts: 254
    Just wondered how this all turned out. Has been almost a year and 1/2, but wonder if Django ever made friends with the cat? Since we brought Dakota home as a puppy (at 8 weeks), she has been curious about our cat. But since our cat was 14 years old and terrified of Dakota, we have kept them separated. The cat lives upstairs, and Dakota lives downstairs, except at night when she sleeps in her crate next to our bed. This allows the cat to sleep on the bed, undisturbed. The cat is now 17 and quite frail and elderly.

    The last couple of years, Dakota has had a strong curiosity about the cat, always wanted to see it. She seems to love cats she meets on the street. She wags her tail and her ears become like the wings of a jet. However, in the last month or so, her nearness to our cat (the cat sits on our stairs safely behind a baby gate) has caused her to get increasingly excited.... We try to calm her down, trying to desensitize her to the cat's presence with treats, etc. It is hard. Last night, after her final walk, I brought Dakota up the stairs into the bedroom and closed the door. I took her harness, leash, and collar off because it was the end of the day and she'd be going to sleep soon. I went downstairs to turn off the lights, and all of a sudden, I heard the most god-awful sounds of Dakota’s shrill barking and screaming. Ran upstairs to find that she had cornered the cat in our closet (I had no idea the cat was in our room in the closest) and was barking non-stop in her face. I ran into the closet and the cat ran out with Dakota chasing her. Dakota actually ran the cat down down and had her by the leg when I finally pulled her off and took her to another room while I rounded up the cat. Luckily the cat was fine.

    What is so weird is that Dakota’s interest has turned much more predatary and almost aggressive. Now, I do realize that if Dakota had wanted, she could have really hurt the cat, but it scares me to think of what could be if I wasn’t home and Dakota somehow was able to get to the cat. What also surprises me is this change in Dakota’s behavior towards a cat she was known and seen (albeit from a distance) for over 3 years. It is almost as if the cat has become a new addition to the house and infringing on Dakota’s territory, which is so far from the truth. Any ideas anyone? I always thought that Dakota would never hurt any living thing, but now I’m too uncertain to really believe that anymore. Ideas anyone?
  • poltergeistpoltergeist
    Posts: 426

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