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Seek's avatar

How should I go about introducing my new kitten to my dog?

Asked by Seek (34769points) July 1st, 2016

True to form, my husband has brought home another animal without any forewarning.

This time it was a tiny orange tiger-striped kitten. He’s from a feral litter, and was taken in by hubby’s boss. Her older cats have rejected the new kittens, so she’s rehoming them. Now we have Oscar.

I like to name my animals after scientists or literary figures, so any suggestions as to how to make Oscar work would be fantastic.

He’s currently sequestered in my bathroom with his hard-shell cage with plenty of comfy bedding, a fresh litterbox, lovely wet food and water.

Russell is free to wander the house, but he is crate-trained.

I grew up with cats, but have never had cats and dogs at the same time. What is the best way to introduce the two, to help foster a good friendship between them?

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35 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I was thinking Oscar Madison when I heard Oscar. From the original Odd Couple. I figured maybe since he was stray he might have been a little disheveled. Lol.

Has the dog and cat been in a room together yet? Do you have any idea regarding first reactions of the animals to each other?

Seek's avatar

The animals have not met each other yet. Russell was in his “room” (his crate) when the cat came in, in a carrier. He (the cat) was immediately sequestered in the bathroom.

ucme's avatar

Russell, meet Oscar
Oscar, this is Russell
They sniff & possibly lick each other, typical first date & Robert’s your Mother’s Brother

Coloma's avatar

Let Russel and the little pussy watch and smell each other through the cage for a few days. Then, you can take Oscar out and hold him while Russel checks him out and then, being very watchful, put Oscar down and see how Russel reacts. The kitten may be quite feisty, especially if he is still a bit feral, but with time it should all be fine. Just don’t let Russel get so excited he swipes him down with his paw or slobbers him to death or chases him.

Praise the hell out of Russel for being “gentle” and lavish him with treats and pets when he is a good dog and doesn’t harass little pussy.
Supervised contact for a few weeks for sure until you are certain Russel is not going to be aggressive. Now, if Russel seems to be madly in love quickly, you can be a little more relaxed about it all, but still keep a supervisory eye on the fur kids for quite awhile, untilOscar is old enough to slap Russel into shape if need be. haha

There is Oscar Wilde, Poet, Journalist, writer

Oscar Wirkkala, Inventor

Oscar White Muskarella , curator, Archaeologist

Oscar Hammerstein

Seek's avatar

But my mother’s brother is Walter…

Seek's avatar

I think I will roll with Oscar Wilde. That was the first thought. I was hoping for a scientist, but I’ll take the author of Dorian Grey.

ucme's avatar

Damn, that’s out the window then, thought I was onto something too

Coloma's avatar

@Seek Great minds think alike! I was JUST going to say go with Oscar Wilde only drop the “E”. you know because he was a wild kitten. Oscar Wild ( e ) yes! Nailed it!

We have a big rooster here named ” Herman Melville.” haha

ucme's avatar

I generally loathe cats, don’t trust em, but I have to say, you have a nice looking pussy there
Ahem, more tea vicar?

Coloma's avatar

@ucme I’m surprised, you of all chaps, a pussy hater! Pussies are great, soft, fuzzy, lovable, cute, just like the pussies you like best. haha

Seek's avatar

I’ve always kept cats. It’s been strange not having one around the last few years. I hope Russell gets along with Oscar. The little guy’s already giving me head-butts and is purring like a motor.

Ginger cats tend to be very affectionate. Much more friendly than the stereotypical asshole cat. Schrodinger was an asshole. I loved him dearly but he would not stand for having a dog around.

ucme's avatar

Okay, I feel bad now, sorry @Seek naughty Al
I know plenty of people who have both as pets & they get along fine, depends on the animals individual temperament of course, I wish you luck

Seek's avatar

<3 Thanks, Al. You know I took no offense.

Coloma's avatar

I gave my pussies a bath today. They both did very well. They are both super sweet cats.
“Mia” is a Tortie Point Siamese and “Myles” is a 17 lb. tuxedo Ragdoll. She is sweet as pie and gives love bites and he is Cat-tundra, just flops over with a “thud” and goes belly up for tummy rubbies. Cats rule! :-)

kritiper's avatar

Let them deal with each other as they might.
When my sister got a cat, the dog would harass the cat to no end but with a bit of warnings where required from me, the dog knew that the cat must not be harmed. Afterwards, the cat and dog made a bit of a game of it. Sometimes the cat would swat at the dog when the dog was passing and the dog would turn aggressively towards the cat and voice his disapproval menacingly. At times when I would let the cat out of the house the dog would follow to the door and watch. If the cat gave the dog a certain look, the chase was on! But only just so far out into the yard, then each would go about it’s business unfettered by the other.
But I think in time they became great buddies, though quite one sided. When the cat came into the house, he would go and find out where the dog was. When the dog came in, he being a dog of course, he would not look for the cat. (He was too good for that crap.)
The dog didn’t really like the cat being too near, but could tolerate him being as close as three feet. I have a picture of them lying near each other out in the yard.
On the day I had to put the dog down, I took him into the mountains and buried him. When I got home that night, the cat was sitting just beyond the back of my pickup, looking at the truck, then at me, and back at the truck. For at least three days, either coming inside or going outside, the cat searched for the dog.
So let them be, but keep and eye on the dog until it gets accustomed to the cat being around, then everything should be all right.

Darth_Algar's avatar

In my experience cats will tend to fight with other cats moreso than with dogs. The dogs, no matter how much bigger, seem to know their place and give proper subservience to the cat(s).

That’s just been my own experiences though.

Buttonstc's avatar

Most animal behaviorists suggest keeping the dog on a leash for their first encounter. This way things don’t get out of control.

Since the dog was there first, be sure to overdo it with praise, attention, treats etc. so that he doesn’t feel displaced and only associates the kitty with positive things for him.

It would also be a good idea to let Oscar explore all of your home for several hours without the dog to contend with before they actually meet.

This way he can figure out which places he can easily jump to if he needs to get away from doggie. That’s the advantage that cats have. They can jump out of reach where the dog can’t go.

If you allow Oscars enough time to thoroughly explore this could go a long way towards preventing doggie getting face scratched (even if the dog isn’t being hostile, but merely friendly/curious, it can get overwhelming for a little kitten.)

But if he has a few escape places to jump to, he will likely prefer that over a confrontation.

Also, if your dog is typical , he will find cat food absolutely delicious so probably best to find a higher place to put Oscars food so he can eat in peace.

Once Oscar gets familiar with his new digs, the two should get used to each other without too many incidents. Cats usually know how to teach over eager dogs how to mind their manners.

Whether they will become best friends or merely tolerate each other without warfare is basically up to them. It’s good that Oscars is so little. Hopefully Russell will feel protective towards him as long as he doesn’t perceive him as a rival for your love and attention. Just keep giving him (the dog) plenty of extra attention and praise whenever the cat is around and it likely will be fine.

BTW: Oscar is adorable. Do they know if either parent was part Abyssinian? The reason I ask is because of the big batwing ears which are typical of Abbies. Hopefully he will grow into them more as he gets bigger.

I had a Calico that must have been part Abby because she had the biggest ears I’ve ever seen in any cat I’ve ever had. But she wore them with style and it made her quite a unique little character. She was also polydactyl (Hemingway cat) on her front paws so they looked like big mittens. So that became her name, Kitten Mitten, RIP sweet girl.

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longgone's avatar

To answer this well, I’d need to know how Russel’s prey drive is. He’s still fairly young, I think? Does he chase squirrels, deer, birds, rabbits, mice? Has he ever caught anything? How’s his play drive, does he like to chase balls or other toys?

Seek's avatar

Russell will be three in early October-ish, we think.

He doesn’t care for chasing toys or playing fetch. He likes to run, but never has a real goal. His favourite toy is empty water bottles and milk jugs. He smashes them and gnaws on them until I take them away.

He likes to bark at cats and squirrels through the window, but when on leash outside or at the vet’s office he’s nothing but friendly. I think the only thing he’s ever killed was a small lizard. I live in Florida and we have geckos all over the place here.

LBM's avatar

Oscar is lovely.

In a previous relationship we had two Cavalier King Charles bitches, one was blind. The neighbours down the road had 3 kittens, and didn’t look after them. One by one they all moved in, took about a month in total. Only one kitten was fearful of the dogs, but she ended up sleeping in their bed. I didn’t do anything to make them love one another, they just did. Maybe because the dogs were daft helped.

Coloma's avatar

I expect a picture of Oscar and Russell soon.

longgone's avatar

@Seek That’s great news for Oscar!

I agree with @Buttonstc about keeping Russel leashed for the first few encounters, and letting Oscar learn where he is safe from that pesky dog. I’m sure Russel is lovely, but most cats tend to consider dogs pesky creatures until they learn otherwise.

From a dog trainer’s perspective, I feel it’s relevant to add that it’s important to proof the desired behavior – in this case, being calm around Oscar. With a dog of Russel’s temperament, the first encounter is likely to go well – but to be sure, I’d go with a handful of formal training sessions before letting the two interact. Here’s a video I recommend to my clients with cat issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R88X9VhTBSw.

For the first few months, I’d make sure all interactions with Oscar are a sign of good things to come for Russel. So…treat for Oscar means a treat for Russel right after. Oscar being petted means Russel getting cuddled right after – you get the idea. This helps Russel see your spending time with Oscar as a good thing. Also, discourage any resource guarding. Make sure they each feel safe with treasured possessions, step in if one of them is stealing.

Here’s a kind-of scientist called Oskar.

Coloma's avatar

Still waiting to see a pic of the little pussy.

Seek's avatar

Here is Ian and Oscar

and this is Oscar and Russell’s first face-to-face meeting with no cages.

So far, they’re getting along well as long as everything is quiet. They can laze about in the house and rest at the same time, no problem.

I think Russell is completely unaware of the fact that he’s approximately 900 times Oscar’s size. When Oscar starts chasing his own tail, Russell is all “I CAN HELP!” and pounces, scaring the pants off the cat.

Also, when Oscar starts running Russell’s all YAY WE’RE RUNNING AND I CAN RUN TOO LETS RUN TOGETHER—which is his favourite game anyway. I spend most of the day guarding against accidental kitten-smushing.

It’s utter chaos. But no violence, so we’ll call it a win so far.

Seek's avatar

Oh, and this is Oscar on my Dune bookshelf.

Coloma's avatar

@Seek he is SO cute! He has great expression in his face and his eyes!
What a little darling!

Coloma's avatar

Yeah, some cats learn to not run from dogs and it totally confounds the dog. One of my old cats would just flop over and the dog would be all like ” WTF!” lol
Others never learn and always run and get chased. haha

Buttonstc's avatar

Oscar really is adorable and I see he’s found a place of escape on the bookshelf when he needs a break from Russell. Cats usually wisely prefer flight rather than fight.

Just how many copies of Dune do you have anyway?? I mean, I liked it well enough when I read it, but not THAT much :)

Anyhow, I’m glad that all went well for Oscar and Russell. With whom does Oscar sleep at night or do you still keep him in the bathroom for safety?

When my nephew was little, he was thrilled that the family cat chose to sleep always at the foot of his bed over anyone else in the family. It made him a lifelong cat lover.

Seek's avatar

Today has been a good day in Pet Land.

Russell clearly thinks the cat is his pet, and Oscar is viewing Russell as some form of entertainment. He lays on the floor looking all cute, showing his belly, and when Russell walks up to sniff at his belly, the cat swats his nose, terrifying Russell and making him jump back a mile.

Oscar sleeps in his travel crate for safety still. Russell sleeps in the bed with me. I’d leave Oscar in the bathroom out of the crate but I can’t quite trust Ian to remember to close the door behind him in the middle of the night. In the coming few weeks I’m sure things will figure themselves out.

I have almost ALL of the Dune books, and several copies of the original 5. The old hardcovers, the hardcovers that match the Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson series, and a set of paperbacks for reading. ^_^

Buttonstc's avatar

Well it’s clear that Oscar doesn’t find Russell the least bit terrifying (cats don’t expose their bellies to just anyone) and by the time all is said and done, you will have the most well trained dog (as far as cats are concerned) courtesy of Oscar.

I think having him sleep in his carrier is wise for starters. No sense being awakened in the middle of the night by a chase fest :)

Sounds like Oscar has made himself right at home. He’s a lucky little cat to have such a nice family.

Coloma's avatar

^ Awww….but Oscar kinda got the smelly end of Russel should Russel have a snausage fart moment. haha

Buttonstc's avatar

That’s terrific. Your two orange boys asleep together.

Now we can see a good comparison of how much larger Russell is than Oscar so it’s a good thing they have a good relationship.

I guess Russell thinks you got him his own personal living toy to play with and he appreciates it so he’s not going to mistreat it :)

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