We have two indoor only cats aged 12 and 10. We recently got a three…

We have two indoor only cats aged 12 and 10. We recently got a three year old mostly Cairn terrier from our local animal rescue. My husband got her when he was feeling very emotional following the death of his Mother who had always had a small dog. He wanted to do something in her memory and thought rescuing a small dog would honor her. We neither of us thought too much about what the consequences might be. We know many households with both cats and dogs who co exist peacefully and assumed ( wrongly as it turns out) that we could become one of them.
As soon as the dog came in the house three weeks ago the cats fled upstairs and have not been down since. I have had to move all their "stuff" upstairs to what has become their new home! They have plenty of room and lots of places to look out of the window etc. but I miss having them around downstairs. The dog does not try to go upstairs …maybe it used to lived in a place without an upstairs. I have tried putting the dog in its crate when she has been feed and walked and bringing the cats down one at a time so they could see her but she could not get near them but to no avail so far. They just struggle and want to get away as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t help that I know nothing about dogs and that my husband has seemly turned her over to me for training!
I am going to look for training classes for us (the dog and me…although husband could use some too!). She is a good natured little thing but does tend to yelp when excited which frightens the cats.

Meanwhile I wonder if you could please offer any advise on getting the cats and dog to tolerate each other. I am tired of having an upstairs /downstairs pet house!

We are seniors and both retired so are at home all day with plenty of time to work on the problem. I would hate to send the dog back to animal rescue but feel a bit too old and decrepit to have to keep going upstairs all the time to apologize to the cats for the upheaval etc! I am a lifelong cat person and am finding it hard to not to resent the dog a little bit sometimes ….although it’s my husbands fault for her being here not hers.

Any help much appreciated.

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Eleanor Wood
7 years ago

Time! Try not to force the issue as that will make the cats more nervous. Actually splitting the house as has happened is the best start. Let the cats relax upstairs and get used to the idea. Take a blanket that the terrier had been using upstairs and leave it where they can get used to her smell. Get a Feliway diffuser or two – these are really helpful. When the cats feel ready, they will come and investigate the newcomer, but it can take months. If you feel you have to bring them downstairs, create a happy place, which… Read more »