The Full Story
Monday, Aug. 29, 2011
Chattapets: Help cats and dogs learn to live in peace

BACK IN BLACK


McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, 4500 N. Access Road, is holding a Back in Black adoption drive. Through Sept. 17, adoption fees for any black dog or cat will be half price. Call 305-6500 to schedule an appointment to view available animals.

Experts say there is no reason cats and dogs can't live together peacefully.

Katie Bunch, a manager at the Petsmart store on Gunbarrel Road, rescued a 5-month-old dog named Scout about a month ago. While his boundless enthusiasm occasionally rubs her cat, Lucy, the wrong way, the two reached an uneasy truce after about three weeks.

"If he does something she doesn't like, she puts him in his place," Bunch said. "It's one of those things where you've got to give it time. She's slowly but surely getting used to him being there."

To ease their introduction, Bunch began by holding Lucy when Scout was around. Other times she placed them in separate rooms to sniff each other beneath a closed door. By supervising their interactions, Bunch said she could quickly control any signs of aggression.

In "Complete Cat Care," a book about all things feline, author and veterinarian Bruce Fogle offers five tips for keeping the peace between existing pets and newcomers.

  1. Stroke the cat (or dog) by hand or, Fogle says, using a soft cotton cloth. Stroke your original pet then your new animal to help passively mix their scents and encourage a new, family scent.
  2. After the new pet has been living in your home for a few days, swap its bedding with a resident pet's.
  3. Avoid allowing cats to run from dogs, which may trigger the canine chase instinct.
  4. Don't correct a cat for swiping a dog's nose if it does something the cat dislikes. This is a quick way for dogs to learn behaviors to avoid.
  5. Don't force introductions. Put new cats in a crate on a surface above eye level, to avoid forced eye contact, and allow your old pets to approach when they feel comfortable.

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