Dear Dr. Fox: I need help in welcoming a cat to my household. I have two dogs, a 2-year-old Lhasa apso female and a 5-year-old male corgi/sheltie/beagle mix. The dogs bark enthusiastically at every cat they see.
My father will be coming to live with us in an apartment in the basement of our home. He will be bringing his 12-year-old cat, Harry, who is in good health. The cat has always gone from inside the house to outdoors several times a day. He has never used a litter box. I expect this routine to continue when Harry comes to our house.
My dogs have visited the cat at my father’s current home. They bark and bark. Harry attempts to go outside and disappear until the dogs are gone, or he hides inside the house. He previously lived peacefully with my father’s late lab mix.
Harry will have an entrance to the house separate from the dogs. I should be able to keep the dogs out of the cat’s living area, but I am afraid they will bark nonstop to alert us that there is a cat in the house. I fear, too, Harry will run away from his new home with these dogs in it.
How can I get the animals to exist harmoniously together?
— K.L., Woodbridge, Va.
Dear K.L.: First, I do not condone letting cats wander outdoors unless they are in an escape-proof enclosure with protection from the weather if they are left out. Alternatively, your father should get his cat used to wearing a harness, perhaps initially also with a collar and double leash.
My fear is that in a new place and hearing the dogs bark, the cat will try to get out and probably set out for his old home. It is imperative to keep him indoors for at least four to six weeks, install extra screen doors for security and never let him out except on leashes or into a secure cat house.
Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.