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Cat Testing - I Must Be Mad To Try


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MIL found a kitten under unusual circumstances. See my thread in OT about Kitten with giant feet takes a dangerous ride.

 

Anyway - MIL took the kitten in, because what else could she do? OK - I can think of several options, but she didn't. MIL is stuggling financially with the animals she has. DD has of course fallen in love with the critter. I really don't think MIL can properly care financially for another animal.

 

I might be willing to take in the kitten - but our grey, Diana, is not small-safe. She's mellowed considerably as she's aged, so I'm thinking of trying it for a visit. Muzzle definately. 100% supervision. Leash. Diana is fascinated by kittens at the vet's office, and has never shown aggression to them or any small dog at the vet's office. Of course, all leashed/caged. She's terrified of the free-roaming cat that lives there. He's a serious bad-a** and I don't go near him either! I don't think this kitty is big enough to run like prey.

 

What are the differences in signs between high interest (which I know Di will have, she's always excited around other animals, for a little while) and prey drive aggression? It's been a while - I'm rusty on body language.

 

Actually - I've always been given dogs classified as high-prey - and they've killed small critters in the yard - so I'm sure it's true, but I've never tested. Diana has killed a rabbit, mice, and small chickens in our yard.

 

Could it possibly be different in the house - with a small kitten?

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Guest Scouts_mom

Yes, there is a difference between outside animals and inside ones. All of my dogs have been cat safe, but they have caught mice and a squirrel outside.

 

The big sign for not-cat-safe is whether you can break their interest in the animal. Show your dog the cat (dog on leash and muzzles) then call her name--does she look at you or not. If you tell her "no cat" in a scolding voice, will she leave the cat and go do something else?

 

If she will, then there is hope. But go very slowly with introducing the two--several weeks until they are left alone together.

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IF - If -if - the introductions seem to go well - and I'm still looking for input on how to do that - if that seems to go well - I have a crazy idea. IF all goes well, and we actually DO decide to take in this kitten - would it be insane to crate a kitten? In a greyhound crate just when nobody's home?

 

I'm not going to crate my grey. She's never been crated in this house and I can't imagine what that would do to her. But could I put the kitten in a greyhound size crate for a while when nobody's home? For her own safety? With bedding and a little litterbox and food and water? Or is that too weird and not good for a cat? Just until we trusted them together? So they could see and get used to each other but without the fear of Diana hurting the kitten?

 

Babygating is NOT an option. My grey thinks babygates are just a lot of fun to jump over. And - I don't want a situation that for the rest of their lives - I have to separate our pets when we leave.

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Guest Scouts_mom

I think crating a kitten is very smart as long as it is a big crate. My first 2 cats I got as kittens--they destroyed the house. I wish I had known about crates then. Since that experience, I only adopt adult cats! My old vet used to have kittens from the humane society in the waiting room, hoping they would find a home. They were kept in a big crate with several levels and lots of toys. They did great.

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I think crating a kitten is very smart as long as it is a big crate. My first 2 cats I got as kittens--they destroyed the house. I wish I had known about crates then. Since that experience, I only adopt adult cats! My old vet used to have kittens from the humane society in the waiting room, hoping they would find a home. They were kept in a big crate with several levels and lots of toys. They did great.

Huh - I never thought of, or heard, or crating a cat before. I've had cats and kittens (before I had greys) and never had issues.

 

I'm also not a huge proponet of crating dogs. I DO believe in crating as a training/acclimation tool. And as a necessary option for dogs with medical or special needs.

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My mother has used dog crates for cats recovering from surgery. It's no big deal. They don't love it, but they adjust to it. And it'll be easier for the kitten to adjust than an adult cat. If you can fit a small climbing thing/scratching post in there, so the cat can be "up", it'll probably be pretty happy. Remember, cats sleep almost as much as greyhounds!

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I ALWAYS crate new cats!

 

Purebred kittens are typically sold at an older age, around 12-14 weeks, so they're a bit bigger and cannot fit through the bars on a dog crate. Professional cat breeders and show people use crates for their studs as well as their nursing mothers and kittens. It's a fine idea!

 

I have a special small litter box that I use, a dish of water that attaches to the crate, put in a bed, some food, and viola! Kitty condo!


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest Jacks_Human

My mum has always kept huskies (which have a high prey drive) and cats together. Usually the animals get introduced through a closed door, and allowed to sniff things that smell like each other before having a controlled face-to-face. Also the cat was always given a number of safe spaces that were too high or small for the dog to get at.

 

As for body language... when Jack sees something he wants to chase/grab, his whole body goes alert and tense, his ears up, his tail down, and he starts to move in a stalking motion. If he's just playing, he has his ears relaxed, tail wagging, and his head down towards the small furry. He's pretty good with small fuzzies-- plays with lots of itty-bitty dogs at the park, and even was sweet with a guinea pig.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well - we tried it. I was worried about the wrong animal. We brought the kitten in in a carrier and let Diana check her out. She was really excited, tail wagging. The kitten hissed and lunged. Diana ran and hid. We got Diana to come back into the same room, and left the kitten in the carrier, and just acted normal. Eventually, Diana cautiously approached the carrier, same result. We couldn't get our hands on a dog crate to try putting the kitten in it - SO - we wrapped the kitten in a towel (for MY safety) and I held her. Put a muzzle and leash on Diana. Well, she was so excited (leash means WALK!) that it took forever to get her to notice the kitten. She'd glance at her, and made sure to keep away from her - but really wanted her WALK! The kitten however was having a coronary. She was SO STRESSED. Then I got on the floor with the kitten, Diana still onleash and DH tried to get Diana to come near. With much coaxing she got closer, the kitten hissed and LUNGED and Diana hid behind my DH, tail tucked. By this time, the kitten was nearly hyperventilating, and my DD called a halt to it for the kitten's sake.

 

I'm pretty sure Diana could probably live with a kitten. She never went "focused stare", was actually afraid of the tiny scary critter, was WAY more interested in going for a walk than in the kitten. But - the kitten was in full panic ATTACK mode. That is 2 lbs. of serious FIESTY!!! Without a crate and a hiding place, that kitten would've been hidden under the couch forever if we'd let her loose. Or she'd have had a heart attack - she was THAT freaked out. So - we took her back to grandma's house. DD was as scared and stressed as the kitten, for the kitten's health! Kitty fell asleep before we got out of the driveway, she was exhausted.

 

And YES - Diana got to got for a nice walk. Which was all she really cared about.

Edited by sobesmom
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Guest LindsaySF

Glad Diana did well. :)

 

If the kitten is not used to dogs, I'd say that is a pretty typical reaction. I am a big fan of crating (for dogs and cats), and that could be useful to get kitten acclimated to a home that smells and sounds like dogs, before interacting a lot with them.

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That is a very typical reaction from a kitten, and it doesn't mean that they couldn't have worked it out. You've seen the fight-or-flight reaction in full mode there - kitten could not flee, so the only option for it was to fight and try to get that scary, fierce thing away from itself. Imagine someone who is deathly afraid of something like snakes or spiders or something, being held down and forced to allow the snakes or spiders to crawl on them and have no ability to get away and you may have a bit of a picture of what the cat's reaction was like. You pushed too hard, too fast. The best introductions of that type are more of the "sniffing under the doorway" for long periods of time (more like introducing two cats than introducing two dogs) and seeing the big ferocious dog from a distance when the dog doesn't have the ability to approach and put the kitten into full panic mode.

 

You are lucky when you had it in your lap that it didn't strike out in panic at you even through/with the towel (and cat bites, even from tiny kittens, are a really high risk of infection).

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That is a very typical reaction from a kitten, and it doesn't mean that they couldn't have worked it out. You've seen the fight-or-flight reaction in full mode there - kitten could not flee, so the only option for it was to fight and try to get that scary, fierce thing away from itself. Imagine someone who is deathly afraid of something like snakes or spiders or something, being held down and forced to allow the snakes or spiders to crawl on them and have no ability to get away and you may have a bit of a picture of what the cat's reaction was like. You pushed too hard, too fast. The best introductions of that type are more of the "sniffing under the doorway" for long periods of time (more like introducing two cats than introducing two dogs) and seeing the big ferocious dog from a distance when the dog doesn't have the ability to approach and put the kitten into full panic mode.

 

You are lucky when you had it in your lap that it didn't strike out in panic at you even through/with the towel (and cat bites, even from tiny kittens, are a really high risk of infection).

 

I totally agree. We set that kitten up for panic, stess, and natural reaction defesive mode. I don't know much about cats - I screwed up! Honestly - I expected Diana to go into total prey mode immediately and a no brainer- out the door in 3 minutes or less. That way I'd "tried it" per my DD's request - she'd see that it couldn't work because of Diana and end of story. When Diana was okay - we were not in ANY way set up for a reasonable acclimation. That was NOT a scenario I'd actaully belived would happen.

 

And - yes - now that I know what I know - we could definately do it the right way and make it work.

 

I screwed up. Plain and simple. I totally misjudged what my grey's reaction would be. No harm done, really. The kitten is going to live at grandma's house - and I'm gonna pay the bills for vet care. DD considers it her cat - so that's alright I guess. Lord knows she's at least getting fixed or grandma will have a house full of kittens in a few months.

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