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This cat won’t let up!!

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Back again seeking advice. Mabli’s doing really well with all the tips we’ve been given. Now we’ve sorted one issue, another arises! Of course :)

We had two cats already when we got Mabli, two ginger males, Ben and Micky, very cuddly cheeky boys. They’ve generally ignored Mabli and I’ve been doing lots and lots of work to hopefully lessen her interest in them, it was going really well. Was. 

Mabli clearly has a herding instinct that shows itself when on walks with my parents dog Rosie (6yr old mix of everything) Rosie loves fetch with a tennis ball and when a ball is out it has her complete unwavering focus. Mabli will play and interact with Rosie really well, until the tennis ball is out. Then Rosie becomes a sheep to her who she clearly thinks she’s herding as Rosie runs up and down catching the ball. It’s sweet to watch and both dogs have a great time and then resume play as soon as the tennis ball is away. 

So back to the cats, Micky is very timid and has utilised the safe space upstairs we have blocked off by a baby gate and generally just avoids her. Ben was the same, but recently as she’s become more relaxed and will listen to commands in his presence, he’s decided to start seeking her out and either tease her from above on the kitchen countertop or repeatedly walk to and fro past her while she’s tethered to the sofa happily playing or sleeping. This obviously picks up her attention. She’s been better and better at listening to “leave it, in your bed”  whereas before she’d be transfixed onto him and wouldn’t hear or see me.

They’ve been face to face now a good few times on floor level. Not through Mabli seeking him out, but weirdly him finding her and then backing himself into a corner. He hisses a lot and she approaches with tail up and ears up going for sniffing, there’s been no snarling or barking or any signs of aggression at all. He then bats at her with his paw, I don’t believe he’s got his claws out but I’m not sure. She’s not been scratched yet but I’m worried that’s where it’s going. 

Basically I’m asking, 

1. Why is the cat actively seeking her out and entering her space when she’s otherwise distracted with toys or asleep or just generally minding her own business. Does he want to reclaim territory?

2. My process when she’s looking at him in that transfixed way is to first call her and a lot of the time she’ll come now, then ask her to go in her bed. If she does and starts playing with her toys then perfect that in my eyes is ignoring the cat, sometimes she’ll go to her bed then after a second she’ll be back in the kitchen looking at him. That then is a sharp leave it and back her out into the living room and tether her to the sofa. We’ve also done a few time outs in the crate when she really won’t stop staring at him. Is this the right way to train her to ignore? 

3. I’m not particularly worried about her doing anything to the cats, she will chase them though I’m sure of that and that’s not okay so I’d rather she just ignore them and them her. Ben the cat I am worried about though, as he has been the type to claim territory against other cats and he will fight, he always come out on top. So I’m more worried about him seeking out Mabli to have a fight, is that crazy? Has anyone else had a similar experience?

I don’t need them to be friends I just need her not to chase and him not to take her eye out! We’re not in that territory yet but I’d definitely rather prevent this as early on as possible. 

P.S. Mabli is growing up so fast and has super long gangly legs now and still insists on sleeping on a human if she can, legs everywhere!


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!. Because he is a cat.

2. I don't know that there's a perfect way to deal with this. You will have to experiment and see what works because you are working with 2 species and 2 different personalities and ways of looking at things. Under no circumstances should the dog be permitted to herd, circle, or stare at the cat, as that leads to trouble. (I know, I let my border collie circle the cat, thinking there was no harm to it, and I learned better.) You have less control over the cat, of course. But if you have a way of letting the cat know that he is doing something you don't like, then use that when the cat starts to bug the dog. My cat and dogs live peacefully and even seem to like each other, but at times the cat gets his cattypants on and starts to torment the dog(s). I put an end to it when I see that.

3. Yes, that can happen. If the cat is not truly threatened by the dog, the cat may decide to lord it over the dog. Mine does occasionally, and sometimes it's amusing (the cat lies in a doorway and the dog's afraid to go through), but even on those occasions I gently break it up. You don't want it to get to the point that the cat thinks the dog is completely harmless, and he can do what he wants to the dog, because that could be a recipe for disaster. Just be gentle and firm and don't allow anyone to annoy anyone. If you see them hanging out near each other being calm, praise them and tell them what lovely animals they are. Every time you give the dog a treat and the cat sees it, give one to the cat as well. If you are petting and cuddling the dog and the cat is watching, then go pet the cat as well. 

And most important, observe. Observe them obsessively so you know exactly that the body language triggers are for the various behaviors. That way you can head them off before they get into staring or hissing or whatever.

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1. Well, because that is the ideal time to pester the dog :P

2. It really depends on the dog and cat in question. I agree with D’Elle that you have to experiment to see what works. 

3. I have a big black cat who takes shit from no one, but luckily is sensible enough to know when he is outmatched. Meaning that he will run away when a dog chases him outside, but inside is different. He used to bully my mother’s Jack Russell when they came to visit, blocking her  in the kitchen just sitting or lying there staring at her menacingly. We thought it was funny at first, because the terrier is such a feisty one normally, but not when it came to my cat. We did help her out of the kitchen when it happened. Every time my cat got a bit bolder, eventually he dropped almost on the terrier from countertops. Not fun, but I did manage to train the cat to stop it - still have to keep an eye out though. It was simple: whenever the cat was bullying the dog I calmly picked the cat up, told him “no” in a stern voice (not angry!) and put him someplace else away from the dog. I’d go for an elevated place in your case, as the dog is too interested in the cat. Maybe combine it with treats and pets for good behaviour around the dog. My cat is very trainable, so it might not work for you and you have to be very consistent - plus be calm, a hint of anger and I feel cats get offended and won’t listen. ;)

I’ve kept a visiting Dutch shepherd tethered to the sofa because she wasn’t to be trusted with cats (as in: might eat them). My cat stayed away at first, but knew the dog was tethered so would walk around to show the dog it was his house... Bit nerve wracking for me, but also nice because once the dog calmed down a bit I was able to pet both animals at the same time and treat them for good behaviour. 


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