Having decided that we were going to get a dog there was still one member of the household who could veto the whole plan.
Meet Cat. Cat is a 3½ year old neutered black and white female… um, cat. We adopted her when she was seven months old and she has been an only child cat for the last eighteen months. Until she came to live with us she lived in a house with a dog but since then has had very little canine interaction. I did once see her ‘bounce’ a neighbour’s dachshund who was a similar size to her, I think she was initiating play but as the dog yelped and ran away it’s hard to tell. I’m pretty sure there were no claws involved, despite the yelp.
So Cat has prior residency rights and until we were happy that she would not be too stressed out by having a dog then there was no point in going any further. I’ve lived with stressed cats before – they can develop some really unpleasant habits…
Luckily a friend who lives locally had been through the whole process of adopting a dog a year ago. Lizzie is a very laid back and calm girl who is used to being around cats, so we arranged for her to come and visit in exchange for tea and cake for her owner. Unfortunately, Cat decided to take herself out for the afternoon an hour or so before they were due to arrive and didn’t come home for several hours afterwards so a second visit was arranged.
Second time around the cat flap was locked with Cat on the inside an hour before they arrived. Lizzie walked in and sat down placidly; Cat hissed and tried to leave. In normal circumstances I would have let her, however, in this case the point was to see how she would react so we shut the exits to the room. Unable to leave, Cat hissed again and disappeared behind a chair. Lizzie meanwhile was doing the canine equivalent of whistling innocently, looking anywhere but at Cat so that she wouldn’t inadvertently make eye-contact. After a few minutes I picked Cat up and sat with her on my lap whereupon she pretty soon settled down and went to sleep. A little while after, I got up and placed her on the chair without me, she curled up and went back to sleep; Lizzie decided to follow suit.
When the time came for Lizzie and her owner to leave and they stood up, Cat opened one eye to watch what Lizzie was doing. Lizzie continued to look anywhere except at Cat in a very ‘I’m not here, just ignore me,’ kind of way.
As you can imagine, we were pretty pleased with the outcome. Cat didn’t seem too bothered by having a dog in the house after her initial surprise so that seemed to be the last obstacle cleared.