Integrating Basenji with house cats


  • Hi All,
    New member here- we brought home our tricolour basenji Pup last month and were hoping to get some advice based upon other Basenji and cat owner experiences.
    We already have two indoor cats and living in a 3 storey house it has been fairly easy to keep them separated whilst the Pup is adjusting to his new home and environment.
    They have interacted in small bouts with some nose to nose contact and sniffing however with his biting desires going through teething I haven't wanted him to get too close in case he gets overly close and hurts them.
    Currently his way to explore new things is to use his mouth but lunging with his teeth isn't my preferred way to introduce them...

    Are there any B owners who have cats that can share their experience of bringing them both together?
    I completely acknowledge that it won't be an overnight job but some steps would be gratefully appreciated!

    Thanks


  • @ashmoore92 - Are your cats the type to "stick" up for themselves or will they run from the pup? Do your cats still have their claws? In the first meetings when he tries to bite do the run or bite/claw the pup? If they are the run away type, that might be an indication that it will take a bit to get them to accept the pup or the other way around. If they correct the pup and do not run, that is a good thing.... just like pups do they are yelled at by their Mom, adults or littermates... you need to let this happen if the cats will "correct" the pup... but again, their instinct is to chase, so if they run, the pup will chase.


  • First thing you need to do is gather your cats together, sit them down and tell them that their life is about to change drastically and will never be the same. Second, while they are still sitting and listening to you, get down on your knees and confess that this was your idea and beg for their forgiveness (they won't because they already know the "it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" move...but it is worth a try). Third, ask your Basenji to be nice to your cats, then laugh and laugh and laugh because you know that will never happen. Sorry I can't really help.....have fun!


  • @ashmoore92 I don't have cats, but I would do some training, enrichment, walking or playing with the pup to expend some energy before letting him interact with the cats. And, I'd have him dragging a 4 foot leash. Is this your cats' first up close and personal experience with a dog?

    Roberta


  • @jhewell 🤣 Well put!

    @Ashmoore92 IMHO, don't separate them. They will explore each other at their own pace. Your cats will instinctively know whether to defend themselves and they will set limits. Your puppy might get a well earned scratch on the nose, but I wouldn't waste any time getting worked up over it. The trio will figure it out -- on their own terms.


  • My female b had a real strong prey drive. I live in the country and I have cats. At that time, I had 4 cats, and 3 b's. Jenna was the worst as she would lunge and try to bite. We found 2 feral kittens (brother and sister), nursed them back to health. They were shut up in my room in a crate (litter box, food, water and bedroom door closed). As the kittens got a tad older and was playing and moving around. I brought Jenna in on a leash and closed the bedroom door so the other 2 b's could not come in. They had no problem with the cats. I also had a basket muzzle on Jenna. On a leash, I would let her sniff the kittens. If she tried to lunge (which she did), I would correct her, by saying "no". It took time and lots of patience. Eventually I was able to take the muzzle off but she was still on the leash. She finally learned that these cats were "different" than the "outside" cats (feral). She finally accepted the kittens.
    You can put the pup in a crate, and bring the cats over to sniff and smell through the door. You can put the pup on a leash but have a basket muzzle (not the soft muzzles the vets use) and have the pup with a one on one with ONE cat, at a time. Its going to take time and lots of patience, but both will survive. You got to make sure that the cats have a "safe place" to get to if the pup starts to chase. I had one cat that the dogs didn't care for. If she was laying down, the dogs were fine with her. If she got up to move or do something, they would move real quick towards her, and if she ran, the chase was on. She always had a safe place up and out of the way of the b's. Good luck. It will work out, the cats will put the pup in its place and a few years down the road, hopefully they will all be the best of friends!


  • @rlkosek Hi Roberta
    No, they interacted with the in-laws black lab a lot, however he was 11-12 years old and a very docile dog who had been living with cats all his life.
    I can tell that one of the cats who loves to chase and play with the other is keen to be friends as he does often come down to the kitchen in the evening to see what's going on. He did get chased by the B this morning when I wasn't quick enough to catch up, but found a hiding place and wasn't long before he came down to be a part of the gang again.


  • @basenjimom2 thanks for sharing your experience. I really do have positive thoughts that it will work out in time, and think he does just need a scratch or two to make him realise he's not the boss! We will give some of your suggestions a try and see how it goes.
    Thanks again!


  • @jhewell

    That was a hilarious and perfect reply!


  • @ashmoore92

    Let me first confess that I am not a cat person and then let me apologize for the long history. My son adopted a juvenile cat with a lot of confidence. I had an adult basenji (8 yrs old). We did not live together, but I would bring my basenji for brief visits over the course of a couple of years, so the cat and dog knew each other. Fast forward several years. My son joined the Navy and nobody else in the family would keep the cat, so cat came to live with us. The basenji I had was quite elderly by that time. Dog and the cat got along just fine - not cuddly, but no blood shed. The basenji passed away just before his 15th birthday. The cat and I lived alone together for several years until I retired. I adopted a 3.5 yr old basenji who wanted to chase and bite the cat. It took me over 8 months, but I succeeded in getting them to coexist (and could even trust them alone together). The absolute key is TIME.

    First, I kept the cat (with litter box and cat tree, etc.) in the guest bedroom with the door closed AND a walk thru gate about 3 feet away from the guest bedroom door. The purpose was to get both critters accustomed to the smell and sounds of each other.

    Once the basenji finally stopped trying to find a way to get thru the gate to the door, I propped the door to the guest room open a few inches so the cat and dog smells and sounds were stronger.

    After the basenji ignored the gate/propped door, I opened the guest room door enough so the cat could get into the hallway. Cat would come to the gate and the basenji would go crazy, but eventually, he figured out he wasn't going to be able to get to the cat, so he got used to seeing and smelling the cat up close.

    After a couple of months, the cat would venture out (thru the built in cat door that I modified so only the cat could fit thru and run to safety, but keep the basenji out). This resulted in many wild chases thru the house (some items got broken) but the cat would either jump up high or get back behind the gate where he was safe.

    In addition to all the steps above, every day, two or three times a day, I would put the basenji on a chain leash, attached to something very heavy or to a door, and bring the cat to the couch and I would give them both treats and praised the basenji when he behaved calmly and unaggressively towards the cat. The basenji would get a reprimand or strong "no" when he tried to lunge at the cat.

    The cat would venture out to the living room in the evening while the basenji and I were on the couch. I held the basenji's collar and made him stay with me while the cat roamed or joined us on the couch.

    Finally, the cat could walk across the room without being attacked, but if the cat ever ran - the chase was on! The cat would stop, hiss, puff up and swipe at the basenji, but that never phased the dog once he was in "hunt mode".

    I kept kitty litter box and cat food in the guest room where the basenji had no access.

    Your situation is complicated by multiple cats, however, it might be easier for you because your basenji is younger. Regardless, you can expect it to take up to a year (and maybe never) depending on the prey drive of your pup.

    A friend of mine had a dalmation that she kept chained to a piano for years (of course there was time out for walks and play time) because her dog wanted to eat the cat.

    P.S. After about 3 years, the cat escaped thru the front door and we never saw him again. My guess (and hope) is that he found himself a home without a dog.


  • @basenjimom2 said in Integrating Basenji with house cats:

    bring the cats over to sniff and smell through the door.

    This reminded me of something:
    pet the dog
    pet the cat(s)
    pet the dog
    pet the cat(s)

    The oils on their fur will be transferred between the animals. As you do it (probably over several days), the pup will begin to recognize and accept the different scents and therefore, accept the cats as family. And visa versa.


  • @ashmoore92 I have 2 outside cats that seek out my Basenji for play when we are outside. But they do his and slap at Simba when he is being to rough or have had enough. The biggest issue I have had is when they run away. As others have said he wants to chase them when they run. Making sure he doesn't follow them over the fence.
    Even though they are outside cat's and have plenty of room to get away. I kept Simba on a leash for several months during any interaction with the cats. He plays rough with them still but gets put in his place when it's needed.


  • @jhewell What more is there to say ? You have put it brilliantly !

    A friend who has Persian Blues, I think they are called, and Basenjis operates on a two tier level. The cats are fed on the kitchen work-surface and enter and leave the house via the kitchen window onto a garden table. Once outside they are more than able to take care of themselves.

    Indoors the cats have perches and climbing frames the dogs don't manage to fathom. All is perfectly harmonious.

    No cat dares come into my garden. They haven't for years, through endless and changing packs of Basenjis. Occasionally one will come down the drive and sit in the sun by the cars but they never try to come over any gate into Basenji home turf.

    You are going to have endless 'fun' ! Good luck -

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