Scottish Terriers and kittens: Keeping it real

Two readers write:


We’re looking for some advice. We have a 6 year old Scottie (Pinecone) who likes to rule the roost. He’s great with kids but aggressive with some men, and other animals (though usually not dogs). He has a typical disdain for cats.

We’re introducing a kitten into the family and we’d love to hear from you. Any advice you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

Steve and Mary

Ann replies:

Good luck!!!

But seriously folks:

Regular readers know that a kitten arrived at the Scottish Terrier and Dog News headquarters early in August. Basically, it was hell, with animals constantly tearing through our largely open-concept house, barking like crazy and preventing me from getting anything whatsoever done from brushing my teeth to blogging.

Admittedly it was not a good idea to introduce the kitten into the mix when I was the only human around and I was out at work most of the time, but there are complicated family and in-law reasons why it had to be this way and I will mercifully spare you all the details.

By the end of week one and after grovelling apologetically to the neighbours about all the noise, I called up Bridget’s sometime dog walker and sitter and begged her to take my dog away for the two last days I was on my own and at the office. Luckily, she obliged.

Once there was a trainer/babysitter/supervisor on the premises full-time, things improved dramatically. Our kitten, Penny, is quite brave and stopped cowering in the basement and began standing up to Bridget. Bridget now understands that aggression on her part may result in a painful swatting, but still believes it’s a risk which she must occasionally take, especially when she is being unmercifully taunted. After almost two months, we live in a state of uneasy truce, with at least one daily breach, but that’s a whole lot better than constant rocket attacks.

So, Steve and Mary, all this to say, I hope you will have someone at home to supervise and that you don’t live in an open concept house. And, seriously, good luck.

As for us, the next step is to set up a secret nanny cam to find out what goes on at the Scottish Terrier and Dog News headquarters when there are no humans on the premises. (Wonder if I can do that with my new iPod?) And, oh yes, I’ll also try to take a photo of the girls and post it.

13 thoughts on “Scottish Terriers and kittens: Keeping it real

  1. The house opposite ours adopted a cat a year ago, they also have a Westie and a Jack Russel and a Parrot, (she a bit of an animal rescuer is No 13!)
    Anyways, we could hear the settling-in problems when Suky (the cat) arrived… it went on for months and hasn’t yet been resolved. The result is Suky spends most of the time away from the house. However, Suky is absolutely dreadful; she’s trouble and deliberately provokes dogs.
    I’ve caught her parading past our gate sending Kirk mental, she turns and dances back, to-and-throw in front of our gate knowing Kirk can’t get past… it would be quite hilarious to watch, but it upsets Kirk. She’s playing games and my poor Kirk doesn’t understand. She actually stands in front of the gate; bum turned to Kirk and waves her tail.
    However Kirk’s bark is so loud, so if Suky is teasing Kirk first thing Sunday morning EVERYONE in the village of Melling is awake… a bit embarrassing

  2. Pinecone made his first run at the kitten
    (Opie) today; she was able to run and hide.
    But she bravely ventured out soon after. He knows she's here, my daughter has been carrying her around. We're trying to give Pinecone as much attention as possible. We keep them separarted if no one's home. We'll keep the updates coming.
    Steve and Mary

  3. I don't really have anything helpful to say but that I'm a bit baffled by the whole subject. Guess I'm a bit set in my ways and believe people are either dog people (specifically Scottie!) or cat people and that this blog would mainly be of interest to Scottie people. So my reaction to "planning to introduce a kitten.." was WHY get a cat??!! But probably it can be done and they're likely to at least end up tolerating each other. I.m.e. Scotties like to make a lot of noise & bluster to get the other animal going but if the cat stands its ground, that could change things so that he leaves it alone, so good luck, it could depend how brave the kitten is vs. how determined the dog!

  4. Another update from the home of Pinecone (the Scottie) and Opie (the Kitten). Anonymous asks, "Why get a cat?". My thoughts exactly! But we have a 6 year old daughter and she adores the kitten (as she adores Pinecone).
    So there you go. They are getting along better. Pinecone stares at her and today tried to nip her, but OP bravely ventures out and continues to test the boundaries.
    Thanks Ann for your advice, I'll let you know how it goes.

  5. To September 28th Anonymous.

    Believe me, I'm still asking myself "why" every single day including today when I have a lovely house guest who's allergic to cats. WHY???!!!

  6. Hi Guys,
    Sorry, that "Anonymous" was me, I forgot to put in my "name" and haven't joined the blogging world! Now I think my comment sounded a bit harsh, that was my feeling (WHY do that to yourself?) but there again these things happen in life sometimes! It may take awhile but I'm sure all animals will adapt and at least have a "detente". We did have an unfortunate situation in my family years ago in which sadly that never was achieved; as a postscipt the dog in question was a mini Dachshund with a very determined hunting instinct even as a tiny pup so there you go.

  7. Introducing a Cat and Dog – PART 1
    When you bring a new cat into your house, you need to set up a “safe room” where the cat can stay for at least the first week. The room chosen must have a door and should be in a quiet part of the house. You will need to provide access to food, water, litter box, and scratching post at all times (see first bullet point above for more details). If you have cats as well as dogs in your home, the cats should have already been successfully introduced to the newcomer before initiating introduction of the new cat to your dogs.

    There should be no face-to-face interactions between the new cat and resident dog for the first week. Bring the cat into the house in his carrier and take him directly to his “safe room.”

    · Don’t introduce the cat to any other pets until he has settled in and seems to be comfortable with the human members of the household. This comfort will be evidenced by the cat becoming interactive with you when you enter his “safe room.” Many cats will initially hide for a couple of days when brought to a new home, but will soon become comfortable if given time and space.

    · When your new cat seems to be comfortable with you, it is time to start the introductions with your dog. During these introductions, the dog should always be crated or on leash, allowing the cat to approach the dog on his own terms. This may well be the first time that the cat is outside of his “safe room.” Allow him to explore at his own pace and approach the dog if he is comfortable doing so. All introductions should be supervised and conducted during quiet times of the day.

    · Carefully watch the first contact between cat and dog. Let them sniff each other. Be ready with a towel or squirt gun in case of any aggressive behavior. The situation should be fairly well controlled, though, because the dog will be confined in his crate or on a leash. If either animal displays aggressive or fearful behavior, separate them immediately. Try again later (possibly the next day) after things have calmed down.

    · If the initial meeting goes well, you will still want to repeat the encounter several times under controlled circumstances before letting the animals roam freely in the house or leaving them together unsupervised.

    · If your new cat is a small kitten, take special precautions whenever the cat and dog are together. A large dog may not intend to harm a kitten, he simply may not know his own strength or understand the fragility of a young kitten.

    · Be sensitive to the fact that some dog breeds are naturally not good at cohabitating with cats—certain breeds may instinctually be driven to chase or act aggressively toward a cat. You will need to evaluate your pet’s personality and determine if he is an exception to the general rule for his breed. Take extra time and care when introducing the two animals—always under close supervision. Be aware that your dog may behave better when you are present, so allow ample time for supervised interactions before letting them to be alone together.
    Tips to Encourage or Maintain Harmony
    · To speed acceptance of a new cat, after following the above introduction processes, try feeding the cats at opposite ends of room. Gradually, over time, move the food bowls closer together. After feeding them side-by-side for a week, the cats should be ready to roam through out the house freely.

    · Provide plenty of safe, comfortable sleeping/nesting places if you have several pets…cats especially need their space. They are not as social as dogs and often prefer isolation at times.

    · Keep the cat’s food in a location out of the dog’s reach—either up on a counter or ledge or in an area that is barricaded so that the dog cannot enter.

  8. Introducing a Puppy to a Kitten – PART 2

    · Make sure litter boxes are placed in quiet, easily accessible locations that do not present opportunities for a cat to be cornered by other pets. While litter boxes should be accessible to the cats, they should be out of reach of any resident dogs.
    Unfortunately, in spite of your best efforts, sometimes the resident pets will not accept the new cat into their home. After a month of working through the techniques listed above, if your pets have not progressed past outward displays of aggression, it is time to consider the possibility that the new cat may not be able to integrate into your family. If this turns out to be the case, unless you are willing to maintain separate living quarters for warring pets, you may need to find the newcomer a new home. If you originally adopted the cat from 4Paws, pursuant to the Adoption Contract, you are required to return the cat to the organization.

    If you don’t have any other pets in the house, you should still start your new cat in a “safe room.” Cats like smaller, more confined spaces. Your new pet will acclimate better if started in a single room instead of being given access to the whole house right away.

    The “safe room” should have a secure door and be away from the noise and activity of the rest of the house. Generally you want to choose a room that does not offer a lot of hiding places (like under a bed). The room that you choose should be a place where family members can easily interact with the cat– usually a den works best.

    Set up the “safe room” before bringing your new cat home. The room should have food, water, litter box, scratching post and toys. When you bring your new pet home, leave him in the carrier until you get to the room where he will be staying. Once in the room, open the carrier door and let him come out at his own pace.

    Remember, everything is very new and could be scary for your cat—new sounds and smells, separation from the familiar, etc. Give your cat time to settle into his new surrounds before lavishing him with attention. It may take a few or several days before he becomes comfortable with you… be patient and compassionate. It may help for you or other members of the family to just sit in the room with him and talk to him. After a couple of days, try playing with an interactive toy, such as a laser light or feather toy. Also, offering smelly fishy food is always a good way to go. To paraphrase– the quickest way to a kitty’s heart is through his stomach.

    Once your new furry friend seems comfortable with family members, you can start introducing him to the rest of the house or apartment. In general, your cat should stay in his “safe room” for at least the first week. When the cat seems ready to venture out of his room, let him explore at his own pace. He will probably walk around carefully smelling every nook and cranny. Kitty should continue to stay in his room when you are not home until you are comfortable that he feels at home outside of his “safe room”—usually a second week will suffice for an adult cat, but longer for kittens.
    Once your new pet gets free roam of the house, you will most likely want to move the litter box to its permanent location. Any time you move the litter box, you should put the cat in the box (at the new location) and let him explore from that reference.

    Some cats will acclimate to a new home faster than others. Following the steps listed above, will ensure a smoother transition for any cat. Best to be safe and go slow than to rush things and have a “scaredy” cat on your hands (or under the sofa)

  9. …and finally, PART THREE

    I have a 5 month old Scottie puppy and two adult cats. The above suggestions came from the Athens County Humane Society here in SE Ohio. This method works, but it takes time and consistency. Best of luck. My 5 month old Scottie is beginning to learn her manners, and the cats (two young adults)actually seem to enjoy playing with her, as long as she doesn't get too rough.

  10. in regards to part three.. that is what i am encountering now, i have 2 adult cats in the house, and need to introduce my 3 month old scottie puppy to them.. i will try to do this as suggested.. but will let you know how this goes.. 🙂

  11. When our 3 month old pup arrived, I blocked the doorways so that she could only be in the kitchen and laundry area. The cats were able to access their food, water and litter boxes without going through the kitchen. I blocked the kitchen door with a piece of lightweight plywood – cats could jump over it, puppy could not.
    agraciesmama (formerly anonymous)

  12. Also it helps to have the pup on a leash so that you have better control of any interaction with the cats. I have a large cat tree in my kitchen area. My cats often watch from up there.
    Now my pup is 5 months old and has the run of the downstairs, but I have a gate at the foot of the stairs, so that the cats have their own space and an escape hatch.

  13. I have an almost 8 years old scottish and yesterday we adopted a kitten (my husband always had cats) and it isn’t easy. My scottish (Suki) wants to play with the kitten (Thalia) but it gets rough. So we are keeping them apart and find some quiet moments for them to interact, and Suki is on the leash.
    Thank you for your comments, there have been very helpful.

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