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Old 23.07.2012, 18:33
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I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

I've been thinking about getting a dog for a while now, but one thing that is holding me back is the fact I live in an apartment with a cat.

The flat itself is big (I live alone), with a spacious terrace, there are plenty of parks and woods nearby, my job allows me to enjoy lots of free time and I'm rarely away from home for more than a few hours in a row... so I think giving the dog the exercise and attention it needs won't be a problem.

However, I share my flat with an indoor cat. She's now around 11 years old, but in great health (considering she spends around 20 hours a day sleeping, I'm not surprised her ageing process has slowed down so drastically ).
She's very shy and quiet, though, and I'm sure she wouldn't be enthusiastic about dealing with a hyper canine flatmate on a daily basis. Plus she's had a bad start in life, and since I adopted her many years ago, all I've wanted was to provide her with the quiet existence and respect she deserves.

Is it realistically possible to introduce a puppy and educate it in such a way that the two pets can get along and neither be miserable?

My reasoning is that the cat has lots of nap spots in strategic positions that are out of a dog's reach, so she could spend the day sleeping to her heart's content as usual. And I would be around most of the time to keep the dog entertained and exercised so that hopefully it doesn't feel the urge to torment the cat for fun.

Would getting a puppy instead of an adult dog help them bond or at least respect each other? Any advice or ideas to share?

Thanks in advance
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Old 23.07.2012, 18:58
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

I have had cats, no dogs, so don't know if I'm qualified to give an opinion, but personally I wouldn't want to upset your cat with such a huge change to her life.
I think you maybe answered the question yourself when you said ' Plus she's had a bad start in life, and since I adopted her many years ago, all I've wanted was to provide her with the quiet existence and respect she deserves. '
Maybe think about getting a dog in a few years time?
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Old 23.07.2012, 19:01
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

Sure, it can totally work.

I would even say having the cat first, and the cat being senior, is the preferable option. If it was a vice versa situation, bringing a small kitten into a dogs home, a dog that was not used to cats, then you would have a task on your hands.

Your best bet is a brand new pup. Finding an adult dog that you know is good round cats will be a challenge, but not impossible. Which is why the young pup, who will be taught all its boundaries in the first few months with you will be an easier fit.

Of course, there are no guarantees, so you will have to seriously consider the commitment you are about to undertake if you go ahead. If they really do not get along, are you going to have to make a decision? i.e. to get rid of one or the other because really not gelling.

Cats are the more independent, agile, and itelligent animal. If the dog is bothering them they will move away. If the dog gets too close for comfort they will let it know. You will have to be careful of this at the beginning, cats will swipe at the dog causing potential injury. Although a lesson will be learned.

I think you just need to teach the dog to not rough house the cat, until they learn to live happily together. Like this:

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Old 23.07.2012, 19:22
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

No, the idea is no good at all,

especially for female cats and/or for older ones.

Female cats have far smaller territories than their male brothers, worse if indoor, i.e. they are much more protective towards an intrusion (and believe me, a dog is one of the worst in a cat's eyes) than males.

If you like, pm me so I can give you some addresses of local vets that can give you more info on that.

However, the idea is really bad unless you want to make your cat's life miserable and unbearable.
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Old 23.07.2012, 19:43
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

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No, the idea is no good at all,

especially for female cats and/or for older ones.

Female cats have far smaller territories than their male brothers, worse if indoor, i.e. they are much more protective towards an intrusion (and believe me, a dog is one of the worst in a cat's eyes) than males.

If you like, pm me so I can give you some addresses of local vets that can give you more info on that.

However, the idea is really bad unless you want to make your cat's life miserable and unbearable.
Thats a load of bull****

I had 2 cats living with me for more than a year. Then i got a 3 month old puppy. I had absolutely no problem with them. They smelled each other a bit and as Jordan said, if the cats wanted some space they made it known.

Now they are best friends and sleep in the same bed.

Go for it but i would also say get a puppy. Much easier. Except the toilet training part :P
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Old 23.07.2012, 19:53
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

It might just work. Or it might not - so have you worked out what you would do if it didn't? A sincere question.
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Old 23.07.2012, 20:09
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

I have a cat now, I have had dogs AND cats previously. I have also had a couple of dogs belonging to friends come stay with us when my friends have gone on vacation.

It is possible, it depends on your cat and the arrangements you have for her, what her temperament is like, and what kind of dog you want. The type of dog you want will have some bearing on how much of a factor age is.

Here is why:
Some dog breeds have very strong prey drive, some not so much. A YOUNG dog with a strong prey drive can more easily be taught that Home-Kitty (your cat) is NOT prey than an older dog of the same type who is not used to cats.

If you have enough high places for the cat to get to which are difficult or impossible for the dog, the problem you'll have with high-prey-drive dog will be a lot of barking because dog wants cat. This is not great with neighbors.

The reason the cat's temperament comes into play is because some cats are very curious and want to be friends with everyone (my Bonny is somewhat like this), some cats like their person and that's it - and someone else (such as dog) giving attention to person can sometimes be a problem. One of my old cats was like this second one.

My sis came to visit and had brought her dog along. I'd visited her before, so her dog considered me one of his people, while my cat was used to thinking I was all hers. Dog jumped to me, cat was on my lap, claws flashed and scratched poor dog's eye. Thankfully it was easily healed, but it did require a trip to the vet for a protective contact lens for the dog.

Now, the problem with that scenario though was more me (it was about 20yrs ago ) not seeing the problem ahead, and in the house, there wasn't any good spot for the cat to escape either, so dog in her face really was seen as a threat, even while on my lap.


So, my advice would be to either get a young dog (1yr or younger, not necessarily "fresh from mama" puppy) OR to comb the info from the rescues looking for an older dog that is either very easy going, is used to being around cats, or both. They exist, I've seen them and harassed hubby to get them for me previously. (It's a work in progress for us )

My cat is very close to me, so when I've introduced dogs to her, I simply behave like everything is expected to be fine AND I give them treats together. Dog sees cat is good (hooray, treat!), cat sees dog is calm while also getting a treat, everything (so far) usually works out fine.

There was only one dog with whom this didn't work out, but she was a bit more high-strung and had a much higher prey-drive than the two other visitors who became regular.
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Old 23.07.2012, 20:13
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

I know a lot of people for whom it works, especially when the cats are established and you get a puppy. I have a friend who's in the process of introducing a new puppy (golden retriever) to their several cats and it's going well. On the other hand, Lily the Pup, my dog, is not fond of cats and tries to chase and possibly eat all the neighborhood cats on our walks. I think if we socialized her with cats, it might have worked out, on the other hand, she's got a pretty strong prey drive.
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Old 23.07.2012, 20:46
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

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...
I had 2 cats living with me for more than a year.
...
Sugar, you had 2 of them (so used to a "social" life) and probably their were young. The OP's is a single cat, female and middle aged. Plus indoor.


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...
Now they are best friends and sleep in the same bed.

Go for it but i would also say get a puppy. Much easier.
...
It can work. But usually it does not. And what if it, as most probably, will not?

Again: Ask a vet for more info if you don't believe, but please, a local one, not from some strange foreign country where animals' life is miserable.


Cheers
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Old 23.07.2012, 20:59
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

Thanks for all the answers so far. There's lots of food for thought and I have a lot to take into consideration, so I appreciate all the input and advice you can share.

@ Odile:
The possibility it might not work is precisely what is holding me back. I'd hate to find myself in such a situation which would mean bringing the puppy back, although the only way to rule out this risk it simply not adopting a dog, period.

The best plan of action I've come up so far is this:

- educate myself as much as possible about dog training (even if I end up not adopting a dog, it can't hurt)
- ponder and ponder more
- look for reputable and experienced dog breeders and dog owners who also have cats and talk to them
- then, if I decide to take a step further, look for a puppy that has been properly socialised with cats; discuss the situation with the breeder and decide together whether to go ahead and if so, which plan to adopt that will be in the best interest of both the cat and the dog.

For example, I thought that maybe introducing the puppy gradually could be an option. Do you think that would be a good idea?

But another point is, after how long do I actually figure out that living together is impossible for the two of them? As I said, I'm not too keen on the idea of having to bring the puppy back. Separating it from its family to introduce it to a new household is destabilising enough for it, let alone send it back after it was getting used to the new environment.

I want to be fair to the cat, but also to the dog.
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Old 23.07.2012, 21:30
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

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It might just work. Or it might not - so have you worked out what you would do if it didn't? A sincere question.
This exactly.

If they don't get along, giving up on one or the other is not acceptable. You already have a commitment to care for your cat for her natural life, come what may. If you take on a dog you are making the exact same committment. So what would you do?

Is your flat such that you could keep them separate at all times, should they not get along? Could you keep both safe, while at the same time giving both the love, attention, exercise, training, socialization they each require?

These are questions you need to ask yourself before going further. Many dogs and cats live very happily together. But you must be prepared for the 'what if'.

Wearing my rescue hat, if the answer to 'what if' is giving the dog back - then please do not get a dog at this time. You should only get a pet if you are ready to hand-on-heart say that your home will be the animal's forever home, no matter what obstacles life throws at you.

---

As to a puppy - is someone home 24/7? If not, a puppy is inappropriate at this point in your life. A puppy needs someone with him all the time in the first months - not only for the all important house training, but also for bonding and socialization. it is unfair to bring a puppy into a home where he would be left alone - you'd be setting yourself up for problems down the road.

And certainly introductions to the resident cat would require supervision at all times.

---

Before going further, from what you have written I take it you would be a first time dog owner here in Switzerland - as such, you are required to take the SKN theory course before you acquire a dog. Now would be a good time to get that out of the way, while you are thinking about these questions. Hopefully the course might help you wrestle with this decision.



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So, my advice would be to either get a young dog (1yr or younger, not necessarily "fresh from mama" puppy) OR to comb the info from the rescues looking for an older dog that is either very easy going, is used to being around cats, or both. They exist, I've seen them and harassed hubby to get them for me previously. (It's a work in progress for us )
And this, exactly.


Wishing you and your cat - and hopefully a canine friend - all the best.

Last edited by meloncollie; 23.07.2012 at 21:40.
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Old 23.07.2012, 22:12
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

will be fine , it's workable!!
probably a lil entertainment for the cat too.

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Old 23.07.2012, 22:33
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

Meloncollie, I'm not sure if you've read my reply to Odile.

As I said, I don't want to find myself in a position in which cat and dog cannot live together, because I don't want to give up on either. The moment a dog enters my life, it becomes part of my family. Period. That's why I am being so cautious and why I want to learn as much as possible before hand to figure out if it is feasible to teach the two of them to live together.

This is also the reason why, even if I could technically isolate them in two separate parts of the house, as you suggest, I don't think it would be reasonable, as it means one them wouldn't be able to stay with me. I'm not going to adopt a dog if it means to lock it outside, alone.

I started this thread to find out if anyone has first hand advice on how to teach a dog and cat to get along. I've spoken to vets about that, but their answers very very vague and I want to find out more.

Also, just to clarify, that would be my first time having a dog in Switzerland, but I've had dogs before - all rescued - and was a dog rescue volunteer for many years. Not a completely irresponsible person. I thought it was clear that the well-being of both the cat and dog are crucial for me and that I would rather not adopt a dog if a suitable solution for both cannot be found.
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Old 23.07.2012, 22:46
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

We have two dogs and two cats! Got a house full tbh.

It does and it doesn't work but we deal with it.

I had the cats before I met the OH who had an older dog and was not going to get rid of them. Unfortunately, the older dog does not like the cats. The cats tolerate him. Our youngest was bought as a puppy and gets on much better. We set the rules for the puppy i.e. no chasing and we ensure a cat only room and it has worked.

We have used a gate to seperate the apartment but this is due to the older dog getting aggressive towards the cats. So this is how we deal with it. However, it maybe different for you as if you are considering a puppy you can try and teach the puppy to be calm around the cat. But the cat may not like the dog and that's more difficult to change.

So overall I would say it can work but be prepared for it to not work and think about how you will deal with it. The last thing we need is another puppy in a dog home due to it not getting on with the cat.

Below is a pic of one of the cats - Keeping a close eye on the dogs :-) And our youngest getting on with the cat.
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i-have-cat-can-i-get-dog-too-lost-cause-img_0410.jpg   i-have-cat-can-i-get-dog-too-lost-cause-img_0360.jpg  
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Old 23.07.2012, 23:05
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

We had 2 cats when we decided to rescue a friend's dog - who found herself stuck in kennels. They never became friends, and now we are back in CH nearly 10 years later- they still don't get on We managed as we had plenty of space, the cats were used to go out via cat flap, and we trained the dog to stay downstairs. With indoor cats and limited space, it will possibly be much more difficult and make the cat's life a misery, possibly resulting in soiling. I know several people whose cats started to wee everywhere and soil when they found themselves in a stressful territorial situation. It may help if you can have a gate on one of the bedrooms so the cat can enter but not the dog.

As said, it may work like a dream. Or it may be a disaster, I am sorry to say, with all the goodwill in the world.
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Old 23.07.2012, 23:38
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

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It may help if you can have a gate on one of the bedrooms so the cat can enter but not the dog.
This is something which has shown itself to be a workable solution I've some experience with also. My brother married a woman who came with an old cat. together, they later decided to rescue a dog, a decision which Shadow (the cat) really wasn't too keen on.

Their solution was to put a child gate across a hallway, which isolated a few rooms where Shadow could feel freely was her space, where the dog could not go. Of course, Shadow could easily jump over the gate herself, so she could come and go as she pleased, and the rest of the house were areas where my brother and his wife spend most of their time, so the dog wasn't lonely for company either.


I'm not sure whether it's possible here, hopefully it is, but perhaps it will help with your decision if you allow a dog known to be comfy with cats to come visit in your home for a while, to see how your cat responds.

My first thought is to ask at your local tierheim, but a better idea maybe is that perhaps a kindly friend with a dog may be amenable to the idea of bringing poochie over for a "play date" at your place.
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Old 24.07.2012, 10:53
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

ask yourself, do you have lots of time to spend with a dog? take'em for walks and potty breaks, 3 to 4 times a day to be fair to the dog, dogs need to be social and involved with you... not like the cat, tho I've known some very affectionate cats... that just love attention... mostly the cats in Iceland with extra toes were the friendliest to me.
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Old 24.07.2012, 12:41
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

I am going to be a little controversial for you here Meloncollie. Whilst I would totally agree it is preferable that with a puppy someone need be with him/her the whole time for the first few months, it is not an absolute necessity and whilst you will have a few accidents on your hands more often, it is workable if you have patience, or one smart boy/girl that wants to please, like most of them do.

I took 2 weeks off for my pup when I got him. In these first two weeks we established his room, his toilet area (until holding was possible) etc etc. Of course everything was not 100% at this point but a basic understanding was there.

Then I went back to work, and I would come home at lunch times to walk and play for 30-45 minutes, then go back to work. He would be on his own for 3-4 hours morning and afternoon.

Sure it wasnt easy, sure there were some notes that he had been crying (Frenchies I think are right up there on the separation anxiety list). But it didnt take long until he was used to the routine. The important thing was not to get angry or tell him off if accidents did happen. I recognised it was totally my fault and I was not perfect at this.

Maybe it was selfish of me to do that, or even get the dog given my life stage, but I wanted it and know he has a great life and spoilt rotten, so it has not affected him from what I can see, he will be 2 in October and I picked him up at 3 months.

Sure now he is older with lots more energy to burn, I have him go to dog sitters Mon - Friday 10-5pm. Thats both for him and me, it wouldnt be fair to leave him indoors alll day, though since the move the balcony is plenty big for him. But he likes to be with people, other dogs, and it relieves me off stress and worry.

Alas, my point, is I agree with the sentiment. Great if you can do it. But I wouldnt necessarily rule out getting a dog because you cant spend the first few months with it 24/7. However, I guess the point still remains a dog does need a lot of attention, and if you cant provide it, then you need to pay for it and its expensive.

But it hasnt affected our relationship, he knows I am still his owner.
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Old 24.07.2012, 13:49
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Re: I have a cat. Can I get a dog too or is it a lost cause?

Methinks you are an exceptional dog owner, JBZ - and one of the exceptions to the rule.

I see the fall-out from poorly planned puppy ownership all the time.

When a 6-12 month old dog is handed in to our rescue, most of the time it is because the owners got a cute puppy without understanding the amount of work that means and were not able/willing to devote the time needed to teach him how to live in the human world.

Without consistent-on-the-spot training, socialization, and reinforcement that cute puppy can develop some annoying behaviors - and in some cases, serious behavioral disorders. And when that cute puppy turns into a rambunctious teenager - this is the point where the family dump the dog.

Rehabilitation of a pup who did not receive adequate socilization during the critical fear periods can be very difficult.

Based on the intake interviews I've done in such cases, the majority of those owners left the young puppy on his own for long stretches at a time, and did not make adequate provisions for physical and mental stimulation, socialization, training. Surprise, surprise - they now have an ASBO hound on their hands.


Over the last 20 yearsI've spent too much time and shed too many tears picking up the pieces.


I firmly believe that one owes it to one's puppy to set him up for success from day one. That means being available - on the spot - whenever necessary in those early days, to help him learn what he needs to know.

Especially here in Switzerland, where neighborhood intolerance of an imperfect dog often results in abandonment or a one-way trip to the vet.


---

That said - I've told the story of Saint Swimbo's unexpected entry into my life before... (Post 15 here: How to keep a dog in Switzerland )

Yes, it can be done. But it's bl**dy hard work - and owner and pup start out with one strike against them.

It can work - IF the owner is creative, IF the owner is willing/able to gather the resources necessary to provide for the pup, IF the owner - and family - are willing to make the pup's welfare a number one priority. Some people can do this - but my rescue experience shows that many cannot. And the pup becomes a statistic.

I've been there, done that - and by merest chance got very lucky. In hindsight - because I've been there, done that - I would never, ever do it again, nor would I ever recommend anyone else doing so.

A pup deserves the best possible start in life - which in most cases is someone with him during the critical early periods.

Last edited by meloncollie; 24.07.2012 at 14:07.
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