Cat Deathly Afraid of Dog -- How to Reintroduce

Posted by abchak
Jan 3, 2013
When my boyfriend and I moved in together a year and a half ago, he had had a cat (Penny) for about a year, and we soon adopted a dog (Kima, vizsla/lab mix, now 2.5 years old). My boyfriend let the dog into the house right after we got her, and she of course took off after Penny. Ever since, Penny has been deathly afraid of Kima. We ended up giving Penny to my boyfriend's parents for the last year and a half, soon after the bad introduction. Every time we visit their house with Kima, Penny goes and hides and hisses the entire time, even though Kima hasn't even really noticed/seen Penny since that first introduction. Penny is fine with my boyfriend's parents' two dogs -- they even play together when we're not around. She does have claws so she can defend herself if need be.

My boyfriend's parents don't want the cat anymore, so we need to take her back. I'm wondering what the best way to reintroduce them would be, considering Penny is already so afraid and just hides whenever Kima is even in the same house.

Kima has a high prey drive -- totally crazy about squirrels in the yard and on walks, chased Penny the one time, etc. She has been okay with neighbors' cats in the yard if they stand their ground and don't scamper off. It's that real prey drive that kicks in as soon as the animal starts to flee. So I don't know how to do this reintroduction without Penny just running off and making the situation worse!

We were planning to keep Penny confined to a bedroom in the same house for a while, so she can at least get used to the sound of Kima being around. I'm not excited to keep her litter box in our carpeted bedroom for long though! Also, holding her in our arms for an introduction (as one other poster had suggested in a similar thread) could be very hard since she has claws and freaks out when she sees Kima.

We've been very anxious about starting this introduction, but my boyfriend's parents are pressuring us to take Penny ASAP, so I'd really appreciate any help ya'll can give! I've already read through some similar posts at

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 3, 2013
Hi abchak,

It is me MaxHollyNoah again!
I wrote about introducing cats to dogs a couple of times and I understand you read my comments.

We have a similar experience. When Max, our pointer that died a few years ago, was still young, we took him to Grandma's house where there was a kitten named Kitty Cat. Max actually caught the running kitten in his mouth when he first saw her and we all thought he had killed the kitten. When my husband caught Max, he let the kitten go and we found out Max had a very soft jaw, as a bird dog. Since then, Kitty Cat never comes out when we visit Grandma with our dogs (some died and replaced with new ones so total of 5 different dogs plus our foster dogs). Therefore, I hardly see Kitty Cat.

For Thanksgiving, I went home from Grandma's house with all the dogs except Noah. We left Noah with my husband who stayed there for another night. Grandma has a Golden Retriever so Kitty Cat is used to her dog. Amazingly enough, Kitty Cat showed up after most of our dogs left and she was fine with Noah! She could not handle that many stranger dogs (to her) but she didn't bother just one dog! Of course, Noah is cat savvy and Kitty Cat is dog savvy to start with but I am sure she was traumatized from being caught in Max's mouth as a kitten.

I understand Penny has been living with two dogs so she is a dog savvy cat. But Kima is not very familiar with cats and she might show her prey drive when Penny is present.

I like the idea of separating them for the first couple of weeks and then when you want to re-introduce Penny to Kima, have Kima on a short leash instead of holding Penny. Penny should be able to run away when she is not still comfortable.

In the mean time, it is always a good idea to traing Kima to be obedient and responsive to your commands. Also, try to burn her energy by a lot of walks and activities and make sure she is somehow calm when you bring in Penny to the room.

Again, please consider how Penny feels in a new enviroment and especially about her traumatic experience and don't force her when she is not ready.
Let us know how it goes
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jan 29, 2013
I cant add much to MHN's advice, but want to reiterate the idea of confining/restraining your dog while the cat is free to flee/run for the first few introductions. Never corner the cat, always control the dog - good rule for introductions!