Cat Afraid of Dogs

by Dot
(Cornwall, England)

Our cat problems are with Chloe, our cat who is 13 years old. We've had her from a kitten and she came into a household of 2 other cats and 2 dogs. Over the years as we have lost our other animals we did not replace them. Then after losing our dog who was 16, 4 years ago we decided to have a puppy. Chloe didn't like him at first but they soon became the best of friends.

18 months ago we adopted a Yorkie who had had a very sad life. The first time she saw Chloe she chased her out of the house and our other dog joined in. The situation has deteriorated so much now that Chloe won't come in the house or garden. We have to fetch her in to feed her and when the weather is bad.

We put her in part of the house where the dogs don't go, but on occasions when our grandchildren have stayed the doors have not been closed properly and we have heard Chloe yowling and the dogs barking as they have her cornered. They have not hurt her but barked at her.

She has developed a scabby skin condition which the vet says is due to stress. We have been using pheromone plug ins in the rooms we put her in but we know she is very unhappy and is becoming quite feral. We are at our wits end and are thinking it may be kinder to put her to sleep so if you have any suggestions we would be most grateful.

Reply from Liz (Editor): I can give you a little advice on these cat problems, but I think the main problem is with the behavior of your little Yorkie, who's scaring Chloe and seems to be "encouraging" your other dog to do the same. I'm no expert on dogs, but here's a website where experts are on hand to answer questions of all kinds - they may be able to help you:

Chloe is now at an age where she won't adapt too easily to change, and I can't think of anything you can do to make her lose her fear of the dog, other than trying to modify the dog's behavior so she doesn't chase her.

Keeping them apart when they're in the house as you have done is a good idea, but as you say it's very difficult to ensure that they don't occasionally all come together by accident.

Has Chloe got places in the house she can escape to - e.g. high places, a child guard at the bottom of the stairs (for example) that she can jump over but the dogs can't?

I agree with you that Chloe probably is unhappy in this situation, and it is probably unfair to keep her in it if it can't be resolved. However, at 13 she could easily live for another 5 - 10 years, and I would really urge you not to get her put to sleep.

If you can't resolve the problems, you could take her to an animal rescue center with a no-kill policy. We're fortunate in the UK in that many of ours are no-kill (in other words, the animals stay there for as long as it takes to find them a new home, they're not put to sleep when the shelter gets full). The Cats Protection League and the Blue Cross are good national charities with no-kill policies, and you'll have local charities too.

Older cats are harder to re-home, but they do get homed - older people often like older cats, and people like me tend to take them. If you explain the dog / cat problems to the rescue center, they will ensure she's not re-homed with another dog.

I wish you the best of luck in sorting this out. Please contact me again if you need any more help.

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by: Sahra

I liked your advice, especially about finding a NO-kill shelter, my only complaint is that if you have had Chloe for years and the puppy for a much shorter time get rid of the dog. Dogs are adopted quickly and don't fill up adoption centres. Cats unfortunately are often seen as disposable. Be responsible and if a new animal doesn't fit in with the family rehome the new pet, not the pet that is already part of the family. I have a cat that was dropped of at the pound after being attacked repeatedly by a family's new puppy. My kitty is scarred for life and was thrown away. Please don't encourage this behavior.

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