Mixing It Up with Multiple Species – Part II
The worst situation I ever had with multiple species involved a roommate and a huge Labrador with bullying tendencies. My roomie refused to see how obnoxious the dog was with my ultra-sensitive collie. Riley got to the point he hated to go outside because the Lab barked and charged at him. I eventually had my vet prescribe anti-anxiety meds to help Riley cope. If in doubt, always consult with your veterinarian for solutions to inter-animal relationship issues.
It comes down to common sense, doing your homework, and some practical tips. Ensure you know your additional pet’s requirements. Make sure you can provide safe and alternative housing for them. Have enough litter boxes for all the cats (the general rule of thumb is one box per cat, per level of house, plus one). Make sure there are enough food dishes, separate water dishes, beds, hiding spots, toys, and treats. I have six cats, one is a bully. I need extra litter boxes and water dishes if any get blocked off by the bully.
Most of all ensure you provide enough individualized attention for every pet. Some might be needier, but everyone should get their fair share. See your vet about any changes in behavior.
If you introduce a new pet to a household with a dog, do so on neutral ground, holding a loose leash, as tension can travel from you, through the leash, to the dog. Give them plenty of time to sniff, and assure them this is positive time. Introduce new cats under supervision. Watch for trouble and be ready to separate them if needed, short term. Reintroduce and try it again. You might have to clip their nails if they are determined to swat. Or keep one locked up in a spare room where they can safely sniff under the door.
Small pets need to be protected from predators—and kids. Have safe places to keep them at all times, including when their home is being cleaned.
Lastly, be patient. Sometimes the pets just have to work things out for themselves. Be aware if disagreements escalate, intervene when you must, and don’t hesitate to separate them if things get ugly. Be fair with everyone, and remember they are mostly just following their instincts.
Ryan Jo Summers is a local animal advocate and author. She will have two new novels released in November 2017: “Rainbows in the Moonlight”, a Christian romance novel, and “Wild Whispers”, a romantic suspense mystic tale. And “Crazy Woman Creek”, part of the “Craving Country Anthology”, will be released in January 2018.Ryan’s website is www.ryanjosummers.com, her blog is http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com and her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/RyanJoSummersAuthor