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Tips For Cat Training With Timid Cats


Guest PipDG
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Guest PipDG

Hi there

We have three cats - a nearly-two-year-old little Burmese girl, an 11 year old Burmese boy and a tortie female moggie. We already own one greyhound, five year old Emmie. We got her in March last year. The kitten got used to her within a few weeks, but we lost the moggie and ultimately had to catch her and lock her in the house for a couple of weeks. The male cat took several months to get comfortable being around Em. Em was extremely trainable and in fact was slightly scared of the cats, and we therefore had to do very little with her. It took nearly a year, but all cats were eventually spending substantial periods of time in the house, and Em was ignoring them.

 

So we decided to try again! We had a foster a month or two ago who was a complete disaster. He was cat-trainable in the kennels but not here and would have required far more time than we had available. A few weeks ago another grey boy came up on the GAP website who sounded very positive - calm and needing a good home. The kennel manager seemed to think he wouldn't take too much work to be safe around the cats.

 

We brought him home Thursday night and it's now early Saturday afternoon, so obviously it's early days and I have no major concerns regarding his ability to be trained around the cats. He has met two of them and, although curious, didn't make any moves towards trying to lunge at them. However it's difficult to advance his training when the cats are staying clear and only coming in once he's secured in the spare bedroom. For now I'm happy with settling him in, and am aware that this time is allowing them all to get used to the smell of each other, but at a certain point I'm going to want to do some more training. Plus it's hard keeping him leashed or confined on the off chance one of the cats might decide to come inside and surprise us!

 

Is our best option really to lock the cats inside? I doubt that any of the cats would stay calm if we tried to hold one and brought the dog into the room!

Pip

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Guest PipDG

To add to this - we had a supervised encounter this afternoon on leash and muzzle where he barely noticed the cat. Unfortunately we then had one of those incidents where you want to kick yourself for ever being so stupid. He broke out of the spare bedroom and came into the lounge where the cat jumped up and ran, so of course he chased her. He obviously didn't catch her, and we think he more saw something fun to chase than had any kind of prey intentions, but I do feel like I've jeopardised his training! He's back in the spare bedroom with my husband. I'll take him for another long walk later to make sure he's completely tired out and we'll go back to basics with the cat training again in the hope I can get us over this incident.

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Guest roweboy

I'm new to greyhounds and we just got our boy CJ 3 months ago. We have 4 cats including a kitten we raised from 7 weeks old who was 8 months when CJ came home. We had no idea if he was cat safe at all. His post track experience was in a prison training program. I kept him tethered to me and muzzled for the first week. The cats are totally indoor animals and have a neat escape route through a basement door with a chain lock. The kitten was the boldest and within a couple of day he was ready to show this dog who was boss. CJ was pretty interested in the kitties and did have a few unexpected chases but was also met with claws. It took all this time (since the end of February) for all the cats to return to normal meaning they'll all be in the same room with the dog and he doesn't lift his head.

 

As far as training goes, we allowed him to observe the cats on the basement steps and we gave him lots of treats so he could equate being calm around the cats with good associations. He was never left alone with them until I was sure he wasn't interested in chasing and they always had a couple of escape routes. The first times he was left home alone uncrated he was always muzzled. Now there is total peaceful co-existence. CJ voluntarily goes into his crate in our room at night, so the cats learned that they have free reign at night. They've even come back to sleeping in our room. They still have a room that's closed off from dog access with a baby gate, but that's more to keep their food safe from CJ and the litter box room is also gated. In their own time, the cats came out and if he was overly interested he got hissed at and whacked. He's not afraid of them, he just doesn't mind them being around him and even has a bit of playfulness with the kitten who will drop a toy in front of his nose like a friendly gesture. No more chasing now even when they play hard around him, running laps, batting toys and jumping around. It took more time and patience than actual training, but it's all worked out beautifully. On a side note, he does half-heartedly chase the occasional bunny in the yard and loves to have a run at squirrels but no more so than any previous breed we've had.

Edited by roweboy
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Guest PipDG

I do wish ours were more assertive! I'm trying to reassure myself that I'm doing the right thing because you read so much differing advice. For example, we've been keeping our boy confined in one room (with one of us there) while he settles. At the moment he's a little too stressed to settle when we move around the house. We figure it would give both him and the cats the opportunity to get used to each others' smells. However some advice says not to keep them separate because the dog will become fascinated by the mystery cat. Our cats have always had the kitchen as a baby-gated dog-free zone, and there are high places in the lounge and bedroom where they can go to be safe. However I've also read to not let the dog see the cats through the baby gate. This is something that worked for us in the past because the cats could watch the dog but feel safe, and it never seemed to make our first dog more reactive.

 

He hasn't been crate trained but we're going to give it a go as baby gates won't be enough to restrain him I don't think.

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Guest PipDG

Progress this morning. One of our cats was curled up on our bed so after breakfast and a run around the back yard I brought our boy into the bedroom. He was interested, but would then look away or could be distracted. Unfortunately the cat eventually decided it was all a bit much and dashed under the bed and he definitely was interested in the movement. I gave a sharp tug on the leash, told him 'no' and squirted him, so hopefully if I keep that up he will eventually learn. He's currently asleep on a blanket at my feet (leashed and muzzled).

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Guest Dorian_Grey

I am also new to greyhounds, only have had my boy Dorian for about 3 weeks. He came advertised as "cat curious" and that he would be fine with cats but would need a little more time than the mellowest hounds. Before bringing him home, I asked to see him interact with the rescue's cat, and he just looked at the cat curiously and moved on, but that cat was not skittish and in fact I think the cat looked a little brain damaged and unresponsive.

 

Enter Dorian and my cat, Tesla. Tesla is very skittish around big dogs and in fact was chased by my roomate's dogs when we first moved in. She freaked out so badly, hissing, jumping, and climbing the walls, that she spent a long time living upstairs away from the dogs. Eventually she got tired of it, and started venturing out. She got curious of one of the other resident dogs after several months, but never got more than a couple feet from him.

 

When Dorian arrived, she seemed to freak out. He was allowed in my bedroom, which used to be her kingdom. She was not happy at sharing and when they were introduced in the bathroom she totally freaked, jumping, knocking down everything on the counter, and scratching my face fairly badly (but Dorian just stayed curious, but calm). He spent the first week either in the crate or muzzled and on leash but never chased her on his own. One day, she was in my bedroom and spooked herself when she noticed him and took off running, and he went after her. I felt like you did, that I had ruined him and the training.

 

But I just decided that instead of forcing further introductions I'd let them figure it out. I figured he did not seem like he would hurt her. I kept him muzzled for days until I was sure. Over time, she got tired of being in hiding and started coming out more. I praised him and petted him every time he looked away from her or got interested in something else. I praised her every time she came near and seemed not to be arching her back. Twice he got curious and near her face to smell her (he really looked like he was just curious wanted to play with her), and she hissed angrily and swiped his face and he cried. I let them work it out by letting him be free but muzzled while I watched him. It's been less than 3 weeks and they now are doing great. She gets much closer to him than she ever has to the other dogs. I think it's because he learned to move slowly and gently around her. This very skittish cat has been found walking and purring 1 inch from him, hanging out inside his crate, and drinking his water right next to him eating dinner. The other day she even sat calmly on a chair while he passed by, and swatted at him lazily trying to play!

 

Hang in there. I am not an expert, but being patient and letting them sort it out helped. Also restricting Tesla's freedom to give her a chance to get used to him also helped (though she had plenty of hiding places, she did not have much room to roam or much of anything interesting to do unless she was willing to be near Dorian or at least walk by him while crated or muzzled).

 

Good luck. It sounds like you're working it out.

Edited by Dorian_Grey
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Don't do anything!

 

Let the cats come around in their own time. It's their home too.

 

As long as the dog isn't seeking them out, why would you want to force the issue? Make sure the cats have an escape area (a place where they can run to but the dog cannot enter), and all should be well.

 

One of my cats is now 13. I got him when he was almost 12, and he had recently been traumatized by a dog who chased him and barked at him (long story, but he was an only pet, his owner died, he was given to a couple with an obnoxious terrier). That's all he knew of dogs. I never once made him be near my Greyhound. It took a while, but eventually he realized the dog wasn't going to bother him, and now he weaves around his legs when they're all waiting for meals! It's quite amazing, really!

 

My other cat thinks he IS a Greyhound, and is usually no more than 6 inches from the dog at any given time!


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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Guest jschwe

I agree with others here saying you should give them time. When we brought home our grey, it was the first time our two cats had to share the house with a dog. They were NOT happy, both of them fluffed up and took off. We kept our grey on a leash and muzzled for the first while, just so we could be sure we wouldn't have accidents. He would look interested in the cats, and pull toward them a bit, but didn't ever really lunge.

 

I think it helped that within an hour of bringing the dog into the house, one of our cats swatted him in the face. Luckily his claws only caught the muzzle, but it was enough for our (fairly timid) greyhound. He always gave them space after that.

 

We didn't see the cats for about two or three weeks after we brought home the dog. They wanted nothing to do with him, and kept hidden who knows where (they are indoor only). Eventually, they got sick of hiding and started coming out bit by bit. We kept a close eye, made sure the dog knew they were to be ignored, and eventually they got used to each other. Now, they can jump right over his head and he won't even look.

 

Occasionally, he will chase them. It doesn't happen often, and it's usually if he's already excited or just came in from outside and he sees one of them dart away. But we know him well enough now that we can tell its not a 'chase' so much as a 'running with'. He just wants to play and running is his favorite kind of play.

 

The most important thing IMO is to let the cats get used to the dog in their own time. Cats don't like to be forced to do anything they don't want to, but once they realize the dog is a permanent part of their house, they'll at the very least learn to live with it. If they make themselves scarce for a while, I'd say let them. Forcing the issue will just make it harder.

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Guest PipDG

Thanks all. He's been with us a week now. We are still keeping him confined when we are not at home, and even when we are home if he is out in the house he is on a leash and usually muzzled. He's had a good sniff at two of our cats and been able to observe the third through a baby gate. I think he's moving towards them because he's curious, not because he wants to attack them, but because they tend to run I'm having to keep him under control. This weekend I'll be getting a couple more baby gates so that he can roam muzzled in our lounge and spare bedroom and that way he'll get to see more of the cats as they move around the house. The cats have been remarkably good and are coming into the house a lot more than I expected. The only hitch is that he's not really coping well with being crated. I know we're supposed to ignore him/tell him to be quiet/squirt him/take him out for a pee then put him straight back without any interaction, but it's really hard when he's howling! Last night I took him out for a pee and then he flat out refused to go back into the lounge where the crate is, so I ended up having to shut him in the spare bedroom again with our other girl. I feel a bit terrible for her having to be confined again so much, but I tell myself it won't be forever.

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Guest PipDG

And another update. I don't know if anyone's interested but it's been useful for my own records! We've had Harvey/Mask for just over a week now. It's Sunday night here and yesterday I gave him the run of the house for the first time (except for the kitchen). He did what I expected - endlessly explore the house, and on the occasions he did settle, jump up as soon as I did. This is a very tiring phase! However I feel he needs to get over the novelty, so it's a necessary evil. Of course the cats are less likely to come in during this time so opportunities for cat training are more limited. He did, unfortunately, chase our little Burmese girl down the hallway at one point, muzzled, and with no real aggression, but we did let him know in no uncertain terms that this kind of behaviour was not allowed! Tonight he was in the spare bedroom with me behind a baby gate, and two of our cats were in the kitchen directly across the hallway. I sprayed him with water a couple of times when he was sticking his nose through the gate a little too energetically, but then sat next to him and practiced the first steps of teaching recall ('touch'). By the end of about ten or so minutes if he wandered over to the baby gate to look at the cats I was able to call his name and tell him to touch, and he'd touch my hand, after which I'd give him a treat. I feel like I'm making it up as I go along, but hopefully I'm on the right track. We've gotten into the habit of putting him into a crate in the lounge while we're having dinner. He will lie down and go to sleep (and even roach). One of our cats walked right past tonight, and then turned and stared right at him, and he did little more than twitch his ear. So I'm figuring he must be cat-curious, but not so highly prey driven?

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Sounds like you're doing a good job! And yes, the fact that he seems pretty easily distractable and doesn't show much interest at all when they walk past his crate are good signs.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

gtsig3.jpg

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Guest PipDG

We had a major breakthrough this morning. We'd just come inside from our morning walk and our youngest Burmese girl meowed and walked up to him, let him sniff her, and rubbed up against his legs before sauntering out the cat door. I call that a win! The other Burmese was on the other side of the baby gate in the kitchen tonight and he watched him, but kept wandering off and getting distracted. I think this grey is staying!

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Guest PipDG

I need to get some good ones! Will have a go tomorrow and then post them. He came face to face with our old Burmese boy tonight - to both of their surprise. They sniffed each other and then moved on. All good!

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Guest PipDG

Harvey's lying on the other side of the baby gate and barely even lifting his head when the cats walk past now. The cats have gotten used to him as well and are in and out all day. He's getting more rights of freedom when we're home as well. Two weeks in and he's doing pretty well.

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Guest PipDG

http://i1276.photobucket.com/albums/y468/PipDG/IMG_2035_zps6326b56d.jpg

 

http://i1276.photobucket.com/albums/y468/PipDG/IMG_2038_zpsf517b50f.jpg

 

After trying to copy links from Photobucket and being told I'm not allowed - here are direct links to two photos of the new boy. Tips for cleaning his dirty muzzle will be greatly appreciated!

Edited by PipDG
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Good looking boy! Regarding the brown on his muzzle, those are saliva stains. Not really 'dirty' and not much you can do to clean it off. More obvious on white dogs. I have 2 white boys, and one has those stains and one doesn't. Not really sure why, but I don't worry about it.

 

Here are instructions on how to post a photo in your thread. :)

http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/121707-how-to-post-a-picture/

Edited by JJNg

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

gtsig3.jpg

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Guest PipDG

Interesting re the saliva! Harvey must be just a mucky puppy. I know a friend with a light fawn boy who always has the same problem.

 

He was so good this morning. Our fluffy tortie cat was on the bed when I got home from our walk (my husband was in bed still). I fed him then let him loose in the house wearing his muzzle while I got ready for work. He went straight into our bedroom to smooch with my husband. He pretty much ignored our cat and focused on getting cuddles, even when the cat was pacing back and forth also getting cuddles. Eventually he lay down in the corner of the bedroom on some dirty laundry. My husband got up to go to the bathroom and Harvey apparently got up and started barking at the cat. She stubbornly stayed there for a while then got up and wandered off down the hallway. He followed at a walking pace but then returned to the bedroom and got on the bed. Apparently he then stayed there while my husband was getting ready for work, in fact my husband left him there (with his muzzle still on) after he went to work. I watched the dog cam and around mid-day he moved to our spare bedroom where he lay in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. Obviously I'm not pleased he barked at the cat, or that he got on our bed and didn't want to get off (I would have been firmer), but I'm pleased he lost interest in her and then didn't chase her when she eventually left. We've got till July 5 to decide whether to keep him but let's be honest - he's not going anywhere!

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Sounds like everything is going smoothly, and your cats are adjusting well to Harvey too. The fact that your tortie didn't run when Harvey barked at her is really good, and probably also part of why he didn't chase and lost interest. The cat's reaction is often just as important and will play a large role in determining the dog's response.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

gtsig3.jpg

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Guest PipDG

She's a bit random, that cat. She has demonstrated that she can be quite stubborn though as well! It seems Harvey as now connected the sound of the cat door with the sudden appearance of cats, so that's our next challenge. He was in the spare bedroom with my husband earlier and our little cat came in the cat door and he jumped up and whined through the gate. So more squirting with a water bottle and more stern telling off! He's asleep in his crate next to us as I type and my little cat is curled up on my lap, so she's obviously not put off too badly! He got a little too close to a neighbourhood cat today that walked right up to us. He got a good hiss and a swipe across his nose. I had to applaud the cat! Might have to walk him past her more often.

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Guest PipDG

Haha. It's been an interesting few days! Harvey has learned to associate the sound of the cat door with the appearance of fluffy things. Thankfully the novelty is already wearing off. Yesterday he was wandering loose in the house with his muzzle on while I was getting ready for work. I heard whining then barking and found him in the bathroom getting frustrated because our little Burmese girl was hiding behind the toilet where he couldn't get close to her. Needless to say he got strongly reprimanded for that! Thankfully she was fine - wandered out a couple of minutes after I removed him, then wandered out to the veranda right past him. Since then she's wandered up to him at the top of our property as we were returning home from a walk, and he was a perfect gentleman. Tonight she was hanging out in our study with my husband and Harvey was standing there getting cuddles from my husband ignoring her. Tonight he's in his crate in the lounge while we have dinner, as has become our routine. Our male Burmese is currently sitting about two feet from him staring him down and Harvey is doing little more than casting a lazy eye in his direction. Our little girl has been wandering in and out and our moggy has been running up and down the hallway past the lounge doorway where he can see her. All of this seems like significant progress! I see nothing aggressive in his behaviour at all - just natural curiosity. And the best part is that our greyhound girl Emmie has started sharing the sofa with him, which I never thought would happen. So I guess we are now a three cat, two greyhound family!

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