Q: We have two adorable cats, neither of which particularly cares for the other and no doubt would dislike a dog even more. Nevertheless, we eventually would like to add a puppy to our family. Any suggestions on which breed is most kindly disposed to cats? At this time we are thinking about a large dog (such as a husky or collie), but are worried that our two de-clawed felines would be miserable and defenseless.
K. McDonald, Irvine
A: Introducing any puppy to your two cats will probably upset their day, yet will be the best way to add a dog to your household. A puppy will generally be non-threatening although it could be annoying from their point of view. Since your cats are de-clawed, the risk of injury to the pup is greatly reduced. You need to be present during the initial introductions in order to keep the pup from being too bold and possibly getting hurt if he should corner one of the cats while trying to play. Allow the cats some "high ground" to retreat toward while they are adjusting to the pup. It may take them several months to feel comfortable around the pup. It's possible they may never completely accept the dog in spite of what you do. Since you are planning on getting a large dog, it will probably spend most of its time outdoors and not be in competition with the cats for house space. Some cats may start to spray in the house until they finally accept the dog, so be prepared for some behavioral modifications.