When our adult children bestowed a puppy on us over the 2013 Labor Day weekend, we couldn’t have been more
traumatized delighted. In the years immediately preceding this arrival, we had said goodbye to two dogs and three cats. Our remaining cat—Little Mister—is 10 years old and understandably set in his—let’s be honest—spoiled, entitled, lazy, demanding and uncompromising ways.
distress elation on the first day of Lucy’s arrival caused me to forget about Little Mister until late evening when I opened the back door to coax the puppy outside for a potty. The cat stood on the stoop, ready to dart inside. He stopped and shouted, “What the hell is this?!?” Lucy froze and exclaimed, “Woo-wee, what’s this?” A high-speed chase ensued.
Little Mister didn’t reappear for three days.
The #1 Tip on how to make your elderly cat happy with the new puppy: Refrain from arranging their first meeting on opposite sides of an opened door.
Our previous cats had been introduced to our mature dogs as kittens and we rarely had a problem. I didn’t know how to get a puppy to leave a cat alone without a great deal of screaming and subsequent psychological damage to everyone. I was able to garner a couple of tips from the Internet.
Tip #2: Never leave the cat and the puppy unsupervised. Initially, you’ll find this easy if you fail to heed Tip #1 and your cat disappears for three days.
Tip #3: Whenever the cat enters the room, put the puppy on a leash and remain calm. This is super easy if (A) you always have a leash in your hand, (B) you know the exact moment the cat decides to wake for the night and enter the living room, and (C) you have not been lulled to sleep watching Nova.
Tip #4: Encourage the cat to live upstairs. This works well if you block the stairway with dining room chairs and the puppy does not discover she can take a flying leap over those chairs and race like a greyhound away from you.
Tip #5: Give up and let them work it out.
After five and a half months of Puppy Kindergarten, AKC Good Citizenship training and Little Mister puffing himself to twice his size, flattening his ears, and issuing long growls that would scare the dead, our puppy and 10-year old cat went through a brief period of detente.
However, a few nights ago, Lucy sensed the presence of the cat in the hallway and raced to confirm. Seconds later, Little Mister’s growls filled the air. Lucy barked. Sighing heavily, I extricated myself from the sofa, put on my Solution Architect hat and prepared to mediate.
Little Mister had taken up position near the front door. Lucy approached, wanting to play. Little Mister growled. Lucy barked. Little Mister lashed out with claws bared. Lucy made a hasty backwards retreat while leaving a river of pee.
At least this gave me the needed motivation to mop the hallway.
The following evening, Little Mister came into the living room and jumped on my chair to demand petting. Lucy maintained her cool and stayed on her bed. The cat left for a few minutes and came back. Lucy was highly aware of his movements, but didn’t chase after him. The cat again left the room.
Little Mister came into the living room once again. Apparently, the cat is allowed access to the living room one, even two times a night, but not a third. Definitely not a third time.
Lucy jumped up and ran at him. Little Mister stood his ground, puffed to the size of a cougar, growled and took a swipe in the air. Lucy backed off. Little Mister advanced, hissing and growling. Lucy backed away until she was under an end table. Little Mister continued to pursue.
Yes, I know that Tip #5 advises to let them work it out, but Little Mister looked poised to jump on Lucy’s face like the Salt Creature in Star Trek and suck the life out of her. I jumped from my chair and placed myself between them. Instead of telling Lucy to “leave it,” the command was leveled at Little Mister. He turned and sauntered across the room to claim my chair and meow for a pet. Lucy trembled beneath the end table.
I wish I could report that we are now living happily ever after. The good news is that I’m pretty well done trying to convince Lucy to listen to me. I realize her ears are better tuned to what the cat is saying. Whenever he says, “I’m going to kill you,” she either backs off peeing or hides under an end table. At this point, we’ll define it as success.