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I have had my dog for 5 years now, and my girlfriend and I recently adopted a cat. Most of the time, I am in boston, so the cat stays with my girlfriend. When I am home though, the cat is often at my place. We separated the two at first so they could get used to each others sounds and smells, because I am worried about my dog attacking the cat. She has in the past hunted small animals in the backyard, and I am worried she would view the cat as prey.

That being said, when we put the cat in my room, and the leave the dog outside, the dog sits by the door incessantly, and whines, and sniffs, and scratches at the door. The two occasionally seem like they are playing through the door, but I am unsure. When we open the door and let them interact, the cat seems pretty annoyed by the dog, as the dog will not stop sniffing the cat, and sometimes looks like she's ready to pounce as if the cat is prey.

I do not know what to do. Should I just let them interact until the dog is bored?

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  • What breed is the dog? What options does the cat have to remove itself from the dog's space?
    – Allison C
    Mar 10, 2023 at 15:13
  • @AllisonC the dog is a lagotto romagnolo , and the cat has a variety of options. It can hide under the bed, or up on top of chairs. It can also run into my room, when it wants more space which we have walled from the dog. Usually we just keep the cat in my room, and the dog in the living room and don’t let them interact at all, because right now it’s very stressful for all parties involved including the humans
    – Chris
    Mar 10, 2023 at 17:16
  • Why does the cat not have any perches? As it stands, the cat currently lacks sufficient escape routes; cats are not "pursuit predators" the way dogs are; their natural defense is to climb, not to run away from something that can easily overtake them.
    – Allison C
    Mar 10, 2023 at 17:18

1 Answer 1

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This is extremely similar to my own cat and dog.

I have a small dog that loves to chase birds and she used to chase my cat as well. So for the first several months we had to keep a very watchful eye on her and reprimand her for cat chasing. But we also created several high perches and walkways for the cat so she could move around without being chased. We did notice that the chasing almost always happened outside because there was more free space for running. In the house the cat had more hiding spaces and less incentive to run off.

Now we're at the stage that the dog wants to play with the cat, but the cat doesn't want to reciprocate. We let them interact freely, but when we notice that the cat wants to get away from the insistant dog, we divide them again.

My advice for you is to let both pets meet in a calm environment. That includes going on a walk with the dog before introductions, so the dog has already burned off excess energy and isn't too wild. Make sure your cat has several hiding spots where the dog cannot follow, like under the bed, behind or on top of some furniture or on a window sil.

Both pets have to learn to interact and communicate with each other. Our own dog was also too insistent with constantly sniffing and gradually the cat learned to swat her away if it's too much. In turn the dog is now learning how much sniffing is too much. That is a process that takes time. You can compare the brain of a dog with that of an (approximately) 5 - 6 years old child that wants to play with a cat. Learning restraint and regulating their excitement is hard and takes time.

You can help regulate your dog by sitting between both pets. Let them interact, but when you think the dog is too pushy, push her back away from the cat.

As for the pouncing: it's very unlikely that the dog would attack the cat after they alredy got to know each other and interacted several times. Maybe your dog is play bowing? Here is one example video that explains the play bow. It's primarily an invitation to play in dog body language. Although the person in the video correctly mentions that dogs can do play bows in a conflict situation, the gesture is always meant to deescalate and resolve the conflict.

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