Can’t we just get along?

Recently a friend of mine adopted a dog. Not so unusual really, except my friend has always been a cat person. And that ‘s putting it mildly. My friend is a literal angel in our community who has rescued hundreds of cats over the years and found good homes for them. She has a small home, patient husband and too many cats-in-waiting. But she never refuses a cat in need. She’s been known to call other kind souls and ask them to help her foster a kitty for a short period of time until their forever home can be found. She has even set up a place in her car so that a cat can have a stable environment (so to speak) and feel at ease, warm, and fed until the right human comes along. So that she decided to adopt a dog is sort of out of her wheel house.

Over the years, I have worked with many of her foster kitties to help her with their background. The question for me as an animal communicator is simple “Lost? Or dumped?”  I find out a little background on the cat and then the Kitty Angel can better place them. As an animal communicator it’s a nice way to give to the community.

Nilla came with a history. She had a loud mother and an “in-your-face” three year old child as her pack. So Nilla, for whatever crime she committed, was sent to the shelter.  My friend chose her for her sweet temperament and brought her home. Finding herself in a new environment, with no one yelling or small children in her face, Nilla began to chase the two resident cats and played too roughly with her husband’s dog.

She wrote me in frustration on “Day 5: Nilla’s New Home” and asked me to tell the dog that “cats rule in this house.” Before I even spoke to Nilla, I wrote back and reminded my friend that animals have free will just as humans do. There would be no use in having me tell Nilla to stop chasing the cats or else, because that wasn’t  going to work and Nilla would find herself right back at the shelter.

I checked in with Nilla who indeed has a very sweet personality. She wanted to please her new family very much and was confused about the kitties. She has never been around cats, but boy are they fun to chase! I asked her to please stop but knew it was going to take some work on the part of my friend if this was going to be a success.

My suggestion was to take Nilla to the beach and walk her often. Talk to her. Animals understand everything we say to them. You may have found yourself confiding the deepest secrets of your heart to your beloved four legged. And even though they appear to be asleep, looking at something on the wall, or licking themselves  – believe me they’re taking notes. I suggested packing treats along for the walks, to keep her attention and let her run off some of her energy. I also suggested telling her repeatedly how much she wanted Nilla in her pack. And I suggested bringing up the subject of chasing the cats, and how this is something that scares them and they don’t enjoy.  And so she did just that.

Several days after our initial conversation, things are going much better. In fact all the animals can be in the same room without a lot of panic and protection going on. Nilla is quickly learning her place in the pack. Things aren’t perfect, but she is listening and learning.

Dogs are very different than cats in that they want to please first. Cats could care less. Dogs need to know their place in the order of the pack. Cats let you live with them. Dogs need structure. Cats want their food a half hour early. Dogs love to walk with you and explore. Cats want to ditch you and live their private life.

Temperament and the breed you choose are really important. Nilla has a sweet temperament and most likely came from sweet parents. And this environment works much better for her than her first family. If my friend had gotten a  Jack Russell, it would be: Game Over. Jack Russell’s are small and would seem a good match for cats, but they simply can’t resist chasing them. Jack Russell’s were originally an off-shoot of a breed that chases and kills small animals. So the instinct of the breed (mixed or not) is important too. But Nilla has a shot at this. Through her alone time with her new mom she is learning the ways of her new pack, where she fits in, and what’s expected of her. The expectations are simple: be the loving girl you are, and please don’t chase the cats. She has good temperament and doesn’t have that killer instinct bred into her.

Putting dogs and cats together in a family can work. But it takes understanding dogs and their need for structure.  A strong willed cat will put a dog in its place right away with a good swipe to the nose. But if a cat is the least bit timid, and the dog is strong willed,  then problems will arise for sure. And an animal communicator or pet psychic can’t fix this problem. We can isolate the issue, but ultimately, the human is the one in charge.  And that means coming from a place of patience, firmness, and most of all love. You will teach them faster with that combination than you will by blocking off the house, yelling at the new dog, and trying to fix an animal problem with your human mind.  Everyday must be predictable for the dog and everyday must have the same routine (or as close as possible) for the dog if you’re going to integrate them into a home with cats.

And as for the cats? They will get used to their new dog companion as long as you remember the half hour early feeding rule.

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