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Cat Is a Bully


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Q: Karma, our 12-year-old cat, picks on our two 15-month-old Labrador mixes. He may even jump on top of one dog and start to hiss and bite; he really carries on. Sometimes, we have to pull him away. No one’s been hurt yet, but the dogs seem terrorized. Any advice? — S.C., via cyberspace

A: I’d be terrorized, too! It’s amazing that some cats with lots of bravado can even make a Great Dane shiver with fear. There are even YouTube videos of cats standing up to alligators or bears.

Darlene Arden, a certified animal behavior consultant in Framingham, MA, advises you to temporarily separate your dogs from Karma. For example, keep the cat upstairs and the dogs downstairs. If the layout of your house doesn’t allow for this, place Karma in a room of his own with lots of toys, food and water, a scratching post and litter box.

Arden, author of “Rover, Get Off Her Leg” (HCI, Deerfield Beach, FL, 2007: $14.95), notes that, “Cats remember, and yours won’t change the cat’s view of the dog overnight. Keep the pets separated for at least a few weeks, if not months.”

When things have settled down, begin a foreign exchange program. Take the dogs’ bedding and toys and place them in Karma’s room (near the food dish to associate the smell of the dogs with yummy food).

Gradually let the dogs get reacquainted with Karma. Since cats and dogs sense the world with their noses, dab some vanilla extract on the rear ends of all involved. Karma will recognize the dogs, but they’ll now have a new smell — and now that smell will be something all three pets have in common.

Another idea is to offer a yummy treat — like salmon or sardines — whenever Karma meets the dogs. The strategy is for Karma to associate this amazing goody with the dogs, giving them a reason to like one another. Even if I had previously squabbled with a neighbor, if each time I saw him I was handed $100, my opinion might change pretty quickly.

©Steve Dale Pet World, LLC; Tribune Content Agency 

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