Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hardy and the cats

Maggie (on the left) and Millie
Besides Laurel and Hardy, our animal family includes two cats, Millie (9 years old) and Maggie (8 years old). Since Laurel came home when she was 8 weeks old, she grew up with the cats around and they got used to her as she grew larger and larger. Maggie and Laurel play and lay together and Maggie seems generally accepting of dogs. Millie, on the other hand, didn't even like our saintly Standard Poodle, Annie, who was already older when she and Maggie came along. Laurel has learned that she can't chase or try to play with Millie and occasionally, she even has to tolerate Millie beating on her nose when she ventures too close. On the other hand, Hardy was here with the cats for one week when he was a small puppy (8 weeks old), spent the next three months cat-less and returned to them a big, rough, tough almost 5 month old adolescent. At that point, the cats, especially Millie, decided that avoidance was the better part of valor. I hadn't even seen her for five days since we came home. Maggie was already venturing out and coming through the family room and bedroom to eat and use the litter boxes (which are located in our master bathroom). Millie, who normally spends her time laying on the pillow above my head or laying in the chair with me, was somewhere upstairs where we couldn't even find her. In the last two days, however, Millie has been around too and has even been sleeping with Laurel and me. Now, although I know this and I have tried to explain it to Maggie and Millie, they don't seem to understand that if they don't run, the big brown puppy won't be tempted to chase them. So now, I find myself explaining to the big brown puppy that I don't care if the cats run, he is not allowed to chase them. I'm using a combination of positive reinforcement when he sees a cat and doesn't move towards it with a big "NO" when he sees a running cat and starts to move. We've gotten so he will take two bouncing steps and then stop to watch the cat before walking expectantly back towards me and his anticipated reward for good (no cat chasing) behavior. From Maggie and Millie's responses, they seem to think that is an acceptable compromise and appear to be adjusting to this new two Lab family. I'm almost certain we'll all be able to live happily together!

1 comment:

  1. Ahh Hardy. Cats are *hard*. It took Lance a long time to learn 'cats were off the menu', and Kai is having a difficult time too. Especially when they do things to encourage him. (See his blog post.)