I Ask: Why Can’t My Cats And Dog Form A Peaceful Drum Circle Of Love?

Sometimes I wish y’all were psychic because I would ask: WHEN WILL MY CHILDREN SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT ON A REGULAR BASIS? But the psychics readers would just get angry about me yelling. Like five minutes before I even did. And anyway (as you KNOW), I have more pressing matter than lack of sleep for the past four years.

I need pet advice. We’ve had a dog for like six weeks now. (sorry about the lack of formal introduction)

Late Enough friends? Meet Ratchet dog

He’s an almost three-year-old Tennessee Walker Coonhound from a local animal rescue (AARF: Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation).

He’s loving and playful. Like puppy dog playful. Especially when he sees our three cats. (So my husband married the crazy cat lady. So what?) Rachet just wants to play with his little friends. And he totally backs off when they hiss. But the minute they move again, he’s like YAYAYAYAYAYAY (but in dog so WOOFWAGTAILSNIFFSNIFFJUMPWOOF)

All our cats are nine years old (poof! they magically have the same birthday even though they aren’t related. poof!) Two cats, Loki and Juno, are indoor/outdoor and one, Calliope, is outdoor only (Calliope is a long story involving pee and if you suggest I test her for a urinary tract infection I will send you the hundreds of dollars in vet bills already spent. or the cat.)

Juno with what I originally believed was a giant mole. But it was just his sunglasses

The problem is, when the dog came, the indoor/outdoor cats went ALL outdoor and the three of them went missing for days at a time. (possibly following Phish around the summer. HA! no seriously, that’s a good cat-gone-missing joke.)

I thought it would get better (stop laughing universe) so I left it alone.

Why won\’t Loki play dead with Ratchet? Being drooled on ROCKS.

Instead my cats started getting adopted by our neighbors. Because they were skinny. Kate-Moss-in-the-nineties skinny. They would only eat maybe once a day. (Not for lack of food. But for lack of willingness to come back to our home. Even though the dog is inside most of the time. Because he HATES THE HEAT, TOO!)

After five weeks of the my-insane-owners-got-a-dog diet, I gathered each cat up (even McPee-er) and moved them back inside. Into our bedroom and bathroom mostly separate from Ratchet dog (because the Tom and Jerry action is NOT conducive to nap time).

I’m fattening them up. And secretly hoping to have BFF cats and dog by the end of our indoor adventure. But I’ll take just reducing the probability of a repeat hunger strike when we release them into the wilds of our backyard.

So I ask: How do I create animal harmony? Do I cover Ratchet in catnip? Do I grew more patience? (because I hear it grows next to the money tree.) Do I throw them all into the bathroom and see who survives?

Help my hip cats. And my poor friendless dog. And me. Mostly me.

Answer that I’m already doing so I love because affirmation makes me happy. Laura Flickinger writes: My German Shepherd, Elsa, has a high prey drive, so she tends to chase the cats. I don’t think she’d ever hurt them, but she loves the thrill of the chase. I found that, over time, if I got out-of-the-way and let the animals sort it out, that they did fine. The cats have learned how to stay out of Elsa’s way and, thankfully, Elsa has settled down a bit as she’s gotten older. Now, the three of them sometimes even inhabit the living room together, each in his/her own little spot (I, of course, would love for them to curl up together, but that, sadly, was too much to ask). I have a dog bed that was given to me as a gift. At first, Elsa didn’t know what to do with it, but the cats LOVED it, so it was a cat bed for a while. Elsa finally got the hang of it (thanks, kitties, for modeling correct animal bed behavior….) and now the felines and the canine SHARE the bed (they just sleep in it at different times). So, I say, let the animals work it out, just not when E and N are napping.

Answer whose last line I will make a t-shirt out of one day. Jillian writes: Ahhhh, cats. I love cats but my husband is deathly allergic and for that I am grateful. Otherwise, I might be like you and Gawd knows I don’t need any more chaos in my household than I already have. Sooo, I say…you’re screwed kid, but stay positive!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

37 thoughts to “I Ask: Why Can’t My Cats And Dog Form A Peaceful Drum Circle Of Love?”

  1. When I got my second cat I read a lot about this, and I tried to get my original cat to like her. Apparently it was good to let them bond *through* a closed door, so they could get used to the other’s smell.

    Meh.

    Don’t ask me how this ended. I’m sure your pets will do better than mine.

      1. Well…

        they seemed to get along for a while, with the occasional spat. But things must have gone sour, because Cat #2 hired a hit-cat to “take care” of Cat #1. I’m sure that’s how it happened – I have my sources. My beloved Cat #1 disappeared without a trace, and now Cat #2 is the new don. Think Scarface.

        I told you it didn’t end well.

  2. Buy your cats a Vanagon and some hemp to make homemade jewelry and send them on the road in search of Phish. Because I’m thinking 9-year old cats want nothing to do with Excitable Dog.

    1. They will look cute in Birkenstocks and some flowers tucked behind their ears. (now the question is: can i dress at least one cat up like a hippie and snap a picture in time?)

  3. You won’t like this, I’m afraid, but some time training will go a long way. The cats need to associate Ratchet (cutest dog ever btw,) with a positive experience, like treats or lots of petting.
    Ratchet needs to learn to chill when he sees the cats, so he doesn’t freak them out, so maybe a “sit” or “settle” command for him.
    Have you gone to the purina website? They have a huge forum on this sort of thing with tons of expert advice.
    Good luck in your peace negotiations!

    1. I just went on the website and emailed them because it seems like the site was split between cats and dogs. Hello? Some of us are crazy enough to have BOTH.

      And {sigh} training takes patience. But you are probably right.

  4. I did have to re-introduce my two cats and the first few days were rough. Lots of hissing and snarly looks. After the first week my old cat came out and things got better. I think the only way to calm your dog down about the cats is to get him used to them. Which means lots of time together. Good luck with that. By the way your cats are beautiful. (self confessed crazy cat lady too)

    1. AW! Thanks. The third one is a bit elusive (read: has an anxiety disorder) but she cute too!

      And I have totally introduced cats (the black and white one I got six months after the first two) but the dog thing seems, well, harder.

      Maybe because of what The Mother said above: cats & dogs fight like cats & dogs?

  5. I used to have a dog. then I got a DOG (great dane, black) then we got a street cat. and they would run off and walk the hood together. it was a hell of a sight to see a cat manning a two dog band (a black great dane, hello), then cat had kittens. the great dane would tip toe into their room, lie down slowly and then just move his tail, they would all jump on it. when all the cats and kittens went away or died, we bought two siamese cats. initially separated by a fence, the dane would hover over them and start salivating. it was not very promising. eventually they became friends.

    so, in short, there’s hope

  6. My dog (now 6) still tries to play with the cats. Exercise is the only good answer for us. If she’s tired, she’s calmer. Not that she gets enough…but when she does, it helps. The cats get used to it. Eventually.
    I like how they all have the same birthday. That’s some fancy timing.

      1. I would *never* suggest patience. I don’t have any. What I will say is your cats will learn. Mine have no choice. They are inside only.

  7. I have no advice for you. If we even say the word “cat” Sampson freaks out and runs to the window and starts sniffing.

  8. My German Shepherd, Elsa, has a high prey drive, so she tends to chase the cats. I don’t think she’d ever hurt them, but she loves the thrill of the chase. I found that, over time, if I got out of the way and let the animals sort it out, that they did fine. The cats have learned how to stay out of Elsa’s way and, thankfully, Elsa has settled down a bit as she’s gotten older. Now, the three of them sometimes even inhabit the living room together, each in his/her own little spot (I, of course, would love for them to curl up together, but that, sadly, was too much to ask). I have a dog bed that was given to me as a gift. At first, Elsa didn’t know what to do with it, but the cats LOVED it, so it was a cat bed for a while. Elsa finally got the hang of it (thanks, kitties, for modeling correct animal bed behavior….) and now the felines and the canine SHARE the bed (they just sleep in it at different times). So, I say, let the animals work it out, just not when E and N are napping. 🙂

  9. Unfortunately I know about as much about this topic as I do about getting my son to sleep at night – ha! My mom has had cats and dogs living together for years, I think she just lets them be mean to each other until they get over it. Its very unstructured. I bet that doesn’t work for all cats and dogs, though…

    But I wanted to say thanks for the advice. Definitely been praying for strength and been receiving it, so I am thankful for that. Thank you again!

  10. Ok, I train dogs at the prison where I work and my co-trainer says there are two rules of thought here. You can force them into the same area, and kind of not let the dog back away. This will probably encourage one of your kittys to take a swipe at him, which will give you an immediate answer. Either your dog will duck and run, or he will go after the kitty. If he ducks and runs then he will eventually learn to leave the cats alone and the cat will take their place as seperate leaders. If he goes after the kitty then he is cat reactive, and you can’t change that at 3 years old. Not really anyway.

    Obviously none of this is intended to hurt any of the animals, and I only train dogs. I don’t have cats, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Or you can tell me you think I’m stupid… 🙁

    1. No, this is great!

      I already know that my dog will duck and run because the cats have swiped — he just wants a playmate (not a meal) HOWEVER he REALLY wants a playmate so the minute the cats seem more relaxed he’s like YEAH YEAH YEAH!! And we are OFF AGAIN!

  11. Ahhhh, cats. I love cats but my husband is deathly allergic and for that I am grateful. Otherwise, I might be like you and Gawd knows I don’t need any more chaos in my household than I already have.

    Sooo, I say…you’re screwed kid, but stay positive!

  12. Every dog is a potential “cat hater” and every cat, I think, will try her best to scratch out a dog’s eye unless they 1. Grew up together from a very young age or 2. Had a long time getting use to each other (and then it cannot be guaranteed).
    I grew up on a farm and we always had cats and dogs and my mother still has two dogs and a cat who all sleep together in a room (each in its own bed:-)) The dogs however, were there first and adopted Marley the cat at a very young age. There were a few hickups to begin with, but now they are inseparable. Perhaps it is easier when the dogs are already there. I think most cats have a bit of an attitude problem anyway, but then, I am not a cat person…I am not a dog person either for that matter. I think, like in the wild, they need to mark their territory and set boundaries, which they will eventually do!!
    Your cats are probably pissed of, but they will get over it…and your dog will very likely feel the wrath of an angry cat in form of sharp claws every now and then, but he will learn his lesson:-))
    Good luck:-)

  13. as you know, we have 4 (now 3 b/c my dad took the disabled one when A was born) cats and a dog. The only solution we’ve found is to keep the cats in a seperate room with a baby gate. I can’t remember if your sunroom has a door that leads outside, but maybe that could be their saferoom and you can put a catdoor in it. That, or let them all hang in the Sunroom together with the door closed and let Ratchet see how fun it is to get ganged up on by 3 cats with claws.

    1. We do have a safe area for most of the day so the cats don’t live under the bed. And so Ratchet doesn’t eat all their food.

      Although the sunroom is definitely Ratchet’s room so we went with the front half of the upstairs. It’s working but I want it to be all HARMONY and crap.

  14. Ok seriously, the similarities are frightening. SO! WE have 3 cats who are all varying ages with issues (fat, gimpy and stressed-out-lemme-pull-my-hair-out) and WE adopted a 3 year old dog in May (whom we had for a month before the adoption was final). I had the same worries. Sully didn’t want to eat the cats but just play, especially when the cats would run. I read lots and lots on the issues and found that putting Sully on a tight leash (I know, pain in the butt) for a few days helped stop him from CONSTANTLY chasing the cats. He used to run and try to play with them as soon as he saw them which would make them run and honestly, putting him on a leash worked. He would try to run after them but I’d basically hold him to the ground or tight in my arms and make him lay down so the cats could just walk by. How did I do this while wrangling a toddler. I didn’t silly. I only did it after she went to bed at night. Gradually it worked. He doesn’t chase them anymore and pretty much bows to them when they pass, especially if they hiss at him. The cats pretty much ignore him too but it probably took a total of 3 months before there was puppy/cat harmony. Giving Sully treats when he’d lay down when they passed help too. We also got him a stuffed animal which he plays with instead of the cats. Got it from PetSmart. He tears its head off and I figure better the stuffed animal then the cats. 🙂 Good luck. It’ll take some more time but it’ll work out. Seriously.

    1. Wow! This is totally helpful and also kind freaks me out. Can you tell me what I will eat tomorrow for lunch? Because I think you are a day to a month ahead of me but living the exact same life.

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