Thursday, March 12, 2015

Introducing a new cat to your dogs: Height is key

Troy the kitty on a high shelf

I took the plunge. After months and months of resisting the allure of the shelter cats I blog about for Willamette Humane Society, I felt the need to add one to my own home.

So, without further delay, I introduce you to Troy. (Some of you might remember him from a blog I wrote a few weeks ago.)

Now I just need to introduce him to my dogs.

In this household, the dogs are the top of the food chain. The things they accept are the things all the other pets will accept. So, I am starting the household introductions with the dogs. And I'm working hard to make sure it goes just right.

Troy is declawed, so he can't harm the dogs with his claws (Update 3/13/2015: But he could very well bite them. They are not safer due to his lack of claws. I don't want anyone to read this as a love song to declawing.). And he has at least some history with dogs, so he should acclimate to them in time. But, cats can be unpredictable, so I'll need to do what I can to keep all the parties safe.

At the moment, that means using height. Troy can jump up on high beds and high shelves, where the dogs can't. I've given him plenty of access to windowsills, so he can get away as needed. And he has a few high beds he can leap on if he feels cornered. I'm hoping he'll use those.

But I am also working with Liam to help Troy feel comfortable with dogs. Liam has excellent cat-reading skills, and he's already picked up a bit of discomfort from Troy. He's giving my big boy a wide berth, and that could help to make Troy understand that many dogs can be trusted.

Introductions like this can take weeks to get right, so this will be an ongoing process.

But in the interim, please help me welcome Troy!

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