My cat, Deanna, is 7 and I adopted her at 4 months old. She is indoor only, eats a really great diet, and is extremely healthy. She's very smart and playful, but she's a bit fearful and anxious. She's made a lot of progress over the years, going from hiding in the closet when guests come over to greeting them and asking for pets within seconds of them coming in. She is leash-trained but cannot handle walking outside and shuts down in fear at the vet.
2 weeks ago I adopted an 11 year-old chiweenie named Sunny. She's very sweet and lovable.
I did everything by the books for a little over a week. My cat was kept separate from the dog in the bedroom and I did a lot of scent and site swapping, feeding them both at the bedroom door, and making sure everyone got lots of love and attention.
My cat was totally non-reactive to the smells and sounds of the dog and was completely relaxed with no signs of stress so we decided to do a face to face with the dog on her harness.
Sunny did really well with learning that she gets treats if she ignored Deanna and Deanna showed cautious interest. We let her approach Sunny at her own pace and it was going great until she got maybe 2 feet from the dog and proceeded to hiss and run. We did another session the following day and it went about the same, but Deanna was a little more aggressive.
Ever since then, Deanna becomes extremely agitated when the dog makes noise or comes close to the door. Hissing, growling, and trying to swat Sunny under the door. We decided to try a face to face with Sunny in her crate, thinking Deanna would be more comfortable with the dog confined. That was a terrible idea. She came up to the crate, gave a sniff, and freaked the fuck out. Yowls, hisses, swatting at the crate door. Obviously, Sunny reached her limit with it, got scared, and growled and barked briefly.
We switched their "base camps" (Sunny in the bedroom, Deanna reigning free everywhere else) and Deanna seems a little more relaxed having her apartment back. However, she clearly wants to murder this demon in her house. We have to lead her away from the bedroom door every time we open it, shut her in the bathroom when Sunny is taken outside, and if Sunny makes any noise Deanna becomes agitated and will even growl at my boyfriend and I or even bat at our legs (claws covered) We never punish her for her behavior, we always redirect her focus and give her reassurance that she is safe and loved.
As long as Sunny is calm and out of sight, Deanna is completely relaxed and lounging around and doing cuddles like nothing is amiss.
It sucks because Deanna is incredibly sweet and has the potential to do well with another animal, but I worry that despite my best efforts I screwed this whole thing up and she'll always hate the dog.
I've fallen in love with Sunny and I am desperate for this to work. My boyfriend and I agreed that if it isn't working, we will ask the shelter to find her a new home. It would be cruel to force my cat to live in a situation where she feels threatened and she is the love of my life. Her health and comfort takes priority.
Sorry for the novel everyone!