The day we brought Sammie home was the same day we found out how she reacts to cats: by chasing. I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised. German Shepherds are known for their high prey drive and if she had never been around them before, they would just seem to be strange little creatures that would be fun to chase. However, she did so well at Petsmart around the dogs of varying size (mostly ignoring them after an initial sniff) that I was SURE she would just ignore the cats, too. No such luck.
I blame the cats, actually. I’m sure if they had just let her sniff them and let her get bored, she would have been fine. Unfortunately, they have not had much exposure to dogs before. Their first introduction to a dog was my 85 pound boxer that could care less about cats, and their second introduction was to my cousins’ yorkie that was smaller than they were. Their third? Well, it was Sammie.
When Sammie came home, my male cat – Mr. Tubs (loving called Tubby) – came out to greet us as he typically does. When he saw Sammie, he froze in his tracks. Not knowing how to handle the situation, and curious how everyone would react, we let Sammie get close. Well, Tubby didn’t like that. He hissed, growled, and pawed at Sammie’s face (although he’s declawed so that didn’t do much except get Sammie wound up) before running away, Sammie close behind. We intervened quickly enough that she didn’t get too far, but Tubs has been scared of her ever since. Any unexpected noise has him bolting for the nearest hiding spot, even if Sammie’s in her crate, and we rarely see him if she’s out of her crate. On the other hand, my female cat, Frou-Frou, has been much more accepting of Sammie. She’s not afraid to walk past Sammie if she’s in her crate and has even come out when Sammie’s chilling in the living room with us. She just doesn’t want Sammie getting too close; when that happens, she growls and bolts.
I can think of so many ‘ifs’ in these situations… If only we had taken the introductions more slowly, as everything I have read suggests. If only we had fed them on opposite sides of the door, so they associate the others’ smells with food.* If only I had socialized my cats around more dogs. “If only, if only, the woodpecker sighs…”
This has been the most emotional part for me. I don’t want my cats to be stressed out all the time, but I can’t bear the thought of giving Sammie back. That’s already happened to her before and she has adopted us as her pack. Who am I kidding? She’s also pushed her way into our hearts… But I still have hope! The other day, when we took Sammie to the dog park, she became fascinated by a toad. She followed it as it hopped around, but she seemed to know how delicate it was and never pawed it or hurt it. That showed us she’s just a curious puppy who wants to play. Now if we can only figure out how to get her uninterested in the cats… If you have experience with this, please comment and let me know what worked for you!
*I’m fairly sure Sammie would have gobbled her food down as fast as she does now. The cats, on the other hand, I’m less certain about. They haven’t even eaten half as much as they did before we brought the dog home.