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 Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?

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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:49 am

So, as some who saw the hijack yesterday may know, I have gained a kitten. While I have a very good home ready to take her it's still hard to let go of her. I've literally been telling my husband for months now how much I miss having a cat. So I am coming to you with husky/cat households wondering how to tell if there's any shot my adult husky might have a chance at being cat tolerant?

Her reactions thus far has been fixation but not lunging as she would if it was a dog. I'm not sure she actually knows what a cat is. Keno is interested but he doesn't concern me too much with cats. He was around some at the shelter and would cower away if they hit him. If the kitten hisses at him he will turn away from her. It's Kenzi that concerns me. She has always been very dog aggressive to the point she has even made an attempt on the life of a puppy. She has a monster prey drive and kills every small critter that has entered the back yard ranging from rabbits and moles, to birds and skunks. She's never killed a cat but I have seen her smack into windows where cats were sitting on the other side. I sat with the kitten on the other side of a baby gate from the dogs last night so they could see it and she simply watched it very intently (though with a lot of chop licking) and didn't try to hit the gate or growl at it. She would press her nose up to the grate on the gate and the kitten licked her and she didn't do anything like hit the gate or growl or paw or snap to scare it. The only 'incident' there was was when the cat got brave and tried to jump up and paw her ear through the gate. She didn't care for that. She hit the gate that time and scared the kitten. I need some unbiased opinions. My husband hasn't been a whole lot of help. His assessment has been, "Well, she didn't act how I expected her to act about it." ie. she didn't try to snatch it out of my arms the instant she saw it.

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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:13 am

Ok Jenn, I'm probably not gonna' clarify anything for you, maybe even cloud the issue even more, but here are my thoughts and experiences:

First and foremost, a kitten, not an adult, though looks to be 4-6 mos old, maybe?

I had adult husky in my 20's with a toddler and a pre-schooler. Got the flash to get a kitten - a beautiful, white, long-haired 8 week old kitten. Rapidly became apparent Sasha was not safe around the kitten - I should have known better, she was a 4 legged 1 dog highly efficient vermin exterminator. The plan became, dog upstairs, kitten in the basement while I tried to train differently. Enter a 2 yr old, climb out of his crib, boy who opened the basement door, down goes Sasha, snatch, there goes kitten. Fortunately, she was an efficient killer and the kitten didn't suffer.

Now, 40 years later, I have Ami and part-time Archer. And a 14 yr old very savvy cat who has survived outside forever - she has held off other dogs with just a glare, ditto a fox. However, in Ami, she has met her match - she tried the haughty, disdainful glare on first meeting, he lunged, her eyes got big as saucers and she fled to the nearest tree - Ami, on leash, stopped dead, my shoulder survived.

Now - things are coming along. With one of us present, she can be curled up in the tractor seat while Ami comes in and out of the shop. He is only mildly curios, casts a look at her and then goes looking for her food dish. With Ami on leash, there has been a couple of times when they have actually sniffed, nose to nose. However, if kitty is sitting on the 4-car concrete apron and Ami spies her, you can see him start to adopt prey stare - I interrupt it at every instance.

She has safe haven in the wood shed (open in front) and in the shop - closed except when we are working there. We have an abundance of trees for her to escape to and I keep several tags on Ami for a jingling warning for her.

Those are the observations and the facts. Now my assessment. I believe that if kitty were allowed indoors (Wayne VERY allergic to cats) and Ami were indoors, that we probably could rapidly get them at least tolerant of each other. Ami is a highly submissive animal - he believes he is the bottom of the food chain, poor boy. If kitty would just once swat him, all of our problems would be over, I think.

If you can keep kitten separate when you are not there, and control contact while you are there, you really might have a chance.

Archer? He lives with 2 kitties - one hates him and has never forgiven Josh and Jess for his presence (even pee'd in Archer's bed, staring straight at him in pure hate as she did so lol! ) The other one loves to play and they do - though a bit scary to humans, Archer will put his whole mouth around Tony, when Tony has enough, he goes limp and Archer lets go. Not sure I could stomach watching that...

Hope I didn't muddle the situation too much. Very pretty cat, by the way.
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:58 am

This kitten in estimated in the 10 to 12 week range. Still very much in the suck on mommy mode though is eating hard food. It doesn't have much for a vertical leap yet. It can pull itself up on the bed but can't jump up on any counters yet. She doesn't have much for instincts with the dogs and that worries me a little too. She will hiss if Keno bounds up to her very fast but hasn't shown any desire to hit him or run away. Just hunkers down and hisses which is dangerous in itself probably. Right now kitten is living in spare bedroom when we are away. She follows me around in the bedroom and bath while I'm getting ready in the morning and dogs are in living room. It's at night when they have to be able to interact since I hate leaving her in the spare room when we are all in the living room, but I don't want her getting grabbed off my lap while we are sitting on the couch.

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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:12 pm

That being the case, and if you want to try, I would start with short periods of time where one of you hold the kitten and one of you control Kenzi (if I remember correctly, Kenzi is leash reactive? Or was that someone else? 'cause if she isn't, leashing her for this exercise would be best) I would just sit with kitty, petting her and talking to Kenzi - when I do this with Ami, I repeatedly talk softly, pet the kitty and use my hand in front of Ami's nose as in "stop". The best case would be if Kenzi scared the kitty so kitty knows there is something to be scared of. In the meantime, until she grows up, I'm afraid its up to you to keep the 2 separated or under your control.

Have you thought about ecollar training with Kenzi? Or is that ill-advised with her history - I wish I could remember better. I do know that Jennt has posted extensively on acclimating husky to cats and the first step is to interrupt (or if possible, prevent) the stare fixation. That is what I have been working with Ami on and it seems to work - I have a saying for myself "kitty is not on the menu" and I simultaneously wave my hand in front of his face until he changes his focus.

But I can't emphasize enough, our kitty is old and experienced and has loads of escape routes. I'm not trying to discourage you, Jenn - quite the opposite, I suspect most huskies can be acclimated to cats if they have an experienced owner who can put in the time - I've come to the conclusion that I have been too cautious with kitty and Ami and it would have been a lot less hassle if I had just let them establish their hierarchy. There are just too many pictures on here of cats and sibes getting along.
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MGoBlue
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:15 pm

I actually think the hunker down and hiss reaction is better than a run reaction, which is more likely to trigger prey drive.

I don't really have any advice other than you know Kenzi best and what her reactions mean. Regardless of everything though, I would never leave the dogs unsupervised with kitty ever, even if you think they are comfortable together.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:20 pm

@MGoBlue wrote:
I actually think the hunker down and hiss reaction is better than a run reaction, which is more likely to trigger prey drive.

I don't really have any advice other than you know Kenzi best and what her reactions mean. Regardless of everything though, I would never leave the dogs unsupervised with kitty ever, even if you think they are comfortable together.

Yup - this too. Its when kitty runs that Ami goes into prey mode. Sitting fluffed up in the tractor seat, he becomes uninterested.
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:29 pm

You remember right, Kenzi is leash reactive. We have been going about the meeting process with her the same way we did with Keno having a fence between them so they can smell but she doesn't have a shot at getting anything bit if she so feels inclined. The kitten did get a dose of scare last night that might help her have a little respect. That was when she tried to boop Kenzi's ear and Kenzi made a grab at her, though fence in the way. Playful kittens have death wish.

I have thought about ecollar training. Also prong collar training. Keno has done well on prong. Kenzi has had some adverse reactions to prong. Perhaps from it being used incorrectly on her sometime in the past. I'm not sure. She doesn't do well on prongs, in fact she all out panics. I would like to test an ecollar on her. I will work on breaking her fixation tonight. She's always been very treat motivated.

I guess with the hunker down reaction worrying me is that she will make herself a sitting duck to be grabbed. Our neighbor cat tried to smack Kenzi once and all it did was fuel her more to eat it, but she was willing to just watch it up to that point. I'll definitely keep them separated.

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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:39 pm

I'm also probably not going to be a lot of help since the cat came to me as a full grown cat.

I have two Huskies, Avalanche who'll play till he drops and Sasha who's more of a rug but also food possessive.  The cat came wandering in off the desert, lived under the trailer for a few days and has gradually become part of the household, it's warm here now, so I leave the back door open (beyond the dog gate) and the cat comes and goes as he wants.

Surprisingly, Avalanche isn't interested in the cat, sniffs at him when he walks by but generally ignores him; Sasha on the other hand will play with him from time to time.  Cat runs, Sasha chases and then they set and relax next to each other .... very weird.  I've seen the DC use Sasha's front paws as a pillow, they're both completely comfortable.  I was concerned when I'd feed Sasha as the cat will literally come over and stick his nose in Sasha's food bowl (and Sasha has bitten me over food) and all Sasha does is nose him out of the way.

While I wish I could offer some good suggestions, the best I can do is to show (like others) that cats and Huskies can coexist without all the drama but getting a kitten to that point with a full grown Husky, seriously, I wish you the best of luck.
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:05 pm

I remember when you inherited your cat. I looked for your thread and for the life of me couldn't find it. Didn't you have some kind of separation for them to start? A lot of people have basements where their cats stay and we don't have that. If I had a basement for the cat this would be a total non-issue.

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MiyasMomma
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a cat tolerant husky?   Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:27 pm

Al, Amy and Sara gave you great advice. I do believe when done right cats and dogs(huskies) can live together. Imho, humans are the ones who get the dogs worked up, and that happens a lot in many situations beyond introducing cats and dogs. Our emotions get in the way, and dogs are very in tune with our bodies reactions, as in if we start sweating, our tone of voice changes, any physical or tonal change will make a dog react differently. The soothing talking that Amy mentions I think is right on, being nonchalant about the situation I think will prove more successful, than getting stressed. I also believe having constant supervision is a must, down the road, maybe not, but it will be down the road.
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