As I’ve mentioned, I have a lot of pets of the furry variety: six cats, and one dog. Believe me, I never set out to own six cats. I felt we pretty much hit our “max” at four cats (and even then, I was happier with three. But then my sister-in-law took in a pregnant stray, needed to find homes for the resulting six kittens, and Alyssa fell in love with one of them. You know how it goes!). But then one stray, a big husky tabby, showed up in our driveway last July. And then another stray, an older, beat-up-and-thrown-back-wet black and white tuxedo kitty, showed up on our deck for several days in a row. So we took them both in, and here we are, with six indoor cats and one dog, a Pug, under one roof.
Interestingly, we have absolutely no issues between Leah (my Pug) and the cats (Blueboy, Kirin, Fritzy, Minerva, Alcide, and Felix). Maybe it’s Leah’s genetics, her demeanor, the fact that when I brought her home as a five month old puppy there were already two cats in the house, or a combination of all of the above. But in any case, she doesn’t chase, pester, or torment any of the cats. She’s very “submissive” in general and I can dress her up in items like dog coats from equestrian clearance for example, with no trouble at all.She’ll even come over and hold still when I do it!
With Leah and the cats, it’s pretty much a case where they pretty much rule the roost over her. Some of them will sleep with her if she’s on our bed or with me on the couch or in the recliner, but for the most part, they ignore her. Or, they take her food, and she lets them. Yes, you read that right. Leah will docilely sit by while a cat — usually Felix, but once Alcide — will go into her crate, sit in her bed, and eat her food. And last week Dan texted me to tell me that Felix was actually laying on top of her in her crate, eating her food, and she didn’t even move a muscle. I’m pretty sure my Pug is a submissive masochist.
When I’m asked how I’ve managed to maintain such a mellow household with six cats and one dog, I tell them that honestly, a lot of it is Leah’s personality: calm, lazy, and submissive. Also, from the beginning (September 2008!) we’ve been very strict in terms of housebreaking, crate-training, and as a helpful article about dogs and cats living together points out, teaching her “Leave it!” has definitely come in handy on more than one occasion. Whether it’s a cat, my daughter’s snake, my son’s tortoise, dropped food, or a platter of food on the coffee table (low enough for her to reach), saying, “Leave it!” firmly and curtly does the trick every time. You’ll want to periodically follow up the command with a treat, as positive reinforcement always goes far. :)