Introducing cats into a basenji household
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  • L

    Hello all,

    I'm about to move into my boyfriend's house and become the proud step-mom of two basenjis, a four-year-old red male and an eleven-year-old brindle female. No worries about being step-mom; they love love love me and I love love love them.

    My problem is this: I have two cats who have to move in with me. I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady and there's no way I'm giving them up without a fight. The reason I've created a new thread for this question is because most basenjis-cats posts on the forum appear to focus on introducing a new basenji(s) into a household that already has cats. My situation is the opposite. These two kitties must invade a home that is already firmly established basenji territory.

    Foreseeable Problems:

    1. Neither of the two basenjis has lived with cats before (as far as we know).

    2. Before the fence-jumping male was adopted, the non-fence-jumping female was let off her leash occasionally under supervision, and sometimes killed squirrels and rabbits. In other words, she seems rather prey-driven.

    3. The male seems prey-driven, too. He lunges at cars, rabbits, crows, etc. However, he also lunges in the same way at dogs he sees on his daily walk, so I'm not sure if the lunging is the "I want to chase you and play with you" type or the "I want to kill you" type. It seems like it could be the former.

    Both my boyfriend and I worry that one or both of the basenjis could end up killing the cats. We also worry that even if the basenjis appear to accept the cats, they could turn on the cats out of the blue and kill them.

    Questions:

    1. What's the best way to introduce my incoming cats to these preexisting basenjis? I have no illusions about the possible difficulty of this task and expect it to be a months-long process.

    2. I'm familiar with the general advice about how to introduce cats to dogs, and vice versa, but as we all know, basenjis don't usually fit the rules for typical dogs. Does anyone have any basenji-specific tips?

    3. At what point do we trust the basenjis alone with the cats? Or do we?

    The short-term plan is to fix up a sunny basement bedroom for the cats and let them have the run of the basement. The hounds don't need to be down there for any reason (in fact, they just got banned from it because they kept stealth-pooping down there), so my boyfriend is fine with blocking it off. We're also going to get a new door, which should hold the basenjis off. But ideally, I'd love to have a household where all of the animals got along, and the cats were able to roam free upstairs when they wanted.

    Please offer me some help ASAP! Thank you in advance.

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  • Yes i see your problem , we have just introduced a Pup to our two existing Cats which is a different situation altogether.
    You are right to be very cautious as the Basenjis do sound as if they are very prey driven, especialy if they have killed.
    It may be that you have to resign yourself to the fact the house hold will have to be seperate. That's the safest option by far.
    You could perhaps introduce the cats to one Basenji at a time , on a leash. Reward any calm behaviour and maybe a water pistol for any lunges. We have used a water pistol with quite a bit of success.
    You could maybe try having things around before you move in with the cats scent on.

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  • It all depends on the dogs and cats personalities. I have had to do this several times over the years. Basenjis will always run up on cats too fast and they usually run. The danger too is the swipe and the dog getting injured. I get down on my knees and have the cat on one side and the B's on the other. If the dog tries to lung or chase I stop them. I try to get the Basenjis to know they can not chase the cat and the cat the idea the Basenjis will not hurt them. It takes patience and a little time. This is the result I got.


    Ringo and my cat Francois.


    Nika as a puppy sleeping with my cat Mikey.

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    @nobarkus:

    It all depends on the dogs and cats personalities. I have had to do this several times over the years. Basenjis will always run up on cats too fast and they usually run. The danger too is the swipe and the dog getting injured. I get down on my knees and have the cat on one side and the B's on the other. If the dog tries to lung or chase I stop them. I try to get the Basenjis to know they can not chase the cat and the cat the idea the Basenjis will not hurt them. It takes patience and a little time. This is the result I got.


    Nika as a puppy sleeping with my cat Mikey.

    In pic #2 the cat looks bigger then the basenji!! :p

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  • It was too funny when Nika (the black B) was a puppy she weighed about 10lbs would chase Francois at 23 lbs to the front door and he would just crouch down wanting to get out and she would just get right on top of him nibbling on his neck and him making this little squirmy sound. I'd open the door and he'd shoot out. He was so good he never swiped at them.

    For a while Francois lived on my dining room table until he got comfortable and not run.

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  • L

    Thanks everyone for the great advice!

    Both kitties are shelter rescues. One cat, Finnegan, is curious, bold, and laid-back, and I doubt a dog would bother him after he got used to it. The other, Callaghan, is more timid and takes longer to get used to new surroundings, but his previous owner claimed that he lived with and got along with dogs. Callaghan is a four-paw declaw, while Finnegan has all of his claws. I'm somewhat worried about Callaghan not being able to defend himself, since a warning scratch can go a long way.

    As for the hounds, I'm more inclined to use positive reinforcement with them. Positive reinforcement works waaaaaay better with the male dog, who is a master counter-surfer. No amount of sprays from the water bottle have ever been able to keep him off of that tempting counter. He responds better to encouraging commands. So, I'm thinking the first few times we introduce them to the cats, we keep the hounds leashed and give them treats while the cats explore, rewarding them with food if they behave well around the cats. I expect some chasing, but I can live with it as long as the basenjis aren't aggressive.

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  • L

    Adorable pictures, btw. I can dream!

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  • S

    Use a wire crate. Put the cats in the crate and lets the b's smell them.
    Leave blankets and such in the crate that the cats have been on.
    THEN transfer the b's into the crate and let the cats go free.
    When I first started doing b rescue I had a siamese…wonderful cat...anyway.
    He always let us know, by his reaction when in the crate, if the dogs would just lick him, or hurt him.
    BUT please, do be very careful...no one wants kittys to be hurt...and it can happen so fast.

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  • L

    Crating sounds like an okay idea, but won't that make the cats feel cornered? If I understand correctly, the best approach to introducing new animals to each other, even if they're the same species, is to allow them an escape route so they don't feel forced into unwanted interaction. Or am I misunderstanding?

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  • @lindenb2:

    Crating sounds like an okay idea, but won't that make the cats feel cornered? If I understand correctly, the best approach to introducing new animals to each other, even if they're the same species, is to allow them an escape route so they don't feel forced into unwanted interaction. Or am I misunderstanding?

    Sharron means this to see how the basenjis will react initially to the cats so you can get a first hand reaction. Example, will they they just stand around and sniff the crate, maybe mild pawing. Or will they freak out. For this trail if you have it a wire crate would be nice and the basenji on a LEASH with you relaxed as much as possible is a must. putting the basenji on the leash is so that you can pull them away in case of a bad reaction. Do SINGLE introductions to them, and also try to do single cats as the cats will also feed off of each others emotions too.

    Yes the cat will feel a little trapped, but more it will quickly realize that the dog cannot get to him in the crate. The BIGGEST key is to do single intros with the dogs because the dogs will rile each other up more than anything.

    Having a house with a basement is good that you can set them up there. If the intros go okay and that you can eventually, transition the cats to house cats, I suggest leaving a a baby gate up so the cats can still have access to the basement, or a cat-door for them so they have an "escape route there. Then through out the house they need "escape" palaces. Like cat trees/towers that they can jump in if they are being pestered by the basenjis.

    I have one basenji and a boxer now; I have fostered basenjis and other breeds and my cat rules the house. But I still have places that she can go to get away from the dogs. I have a spare bedroom that has a 32" baby gate across the door that she jumps, and several cat trees that are strategically placed that don't bother the flow of the house.

    Or you can have your basenji decided to climb the cat tree LMAO :eek: :D :D But he was only a year old then and much lighter than he is now (he is almost 3yrs now he doesn't climb the tree anymore)


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  • S

    Re the wire crate, it was so you can see the dogs reaction to the cat, and so you can have the animals get use to each others smells.
    A running cat will have almost any b chasing it…
    So, a wire crate allows interactions with safety on both sides.

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  • S

    I feel for your cats. One b would be so much easier; two bs are a pack who can drive a cat nuts or kill it. There is nothing most bs like better than chasing a furry creature either in play or to destroy.

    How much experience do the cats have with agreeable dogs? All the cats I have brought into our basenji house have grown up with dogs and so the new dog was no big shock, although there was some adjustment for sure.

    Do the cats have all their claws? Will they stand their ground and scratch if the dogs try to mouth them? Critical! Otherwise you are endangering your cats lives as bs love to grab and shake, which breaks a cat's neck. Only takes a second. I watched it happen a few years ago when a neighbor's cat went into a yard two houses down because his (the cat's) owner was over visiting, checking out some flowers. The cat came walking toward us and the Dobe that lived there killed the cat in one shake. One of the reasons I would never let my cats outside by themselves.

    The cats will go through enough stress just moving; as you know cats HATE that.

    I like the idea of keeping the cats in a different area of the house. But where will you be? They need you too, not just space.

    I've had basenjis for 36 years and if the pups grow up with cats they can do great together.

    Go slow and help the cats adapt to the new house first. Give them lots of love and attention.

    Then have the bs in crates and let the cats explore the rest of the house. Then keep them on leashes. The worst thing that can happen is that when they meet the dogs chase the cats. A moving cat is a true thrill for most bs. Cats that stand their ground, hiss and growl impressively and scratch if need be can train a dog to respect them.

    If you have to have them where the Bs are, make sure a cat tree or something out of basenji reach. We have armoires, high counters, chest of drawers and cat trees in literally every room. Remember bs can crawl under most beds.

    I wish you the best. Hug your cats for me!

    Merry

    PS. Bs love to eat cat poop!

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  • S

    Can you post an update of what happened with the cats and basenjis got together?

    Thanks,
    Merry

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