Cat-Testing a Dog

Pictured: Sunny the cat, winner of the esteemed 'bravest employee' prize, with canine friend Sylvie.

Hands down, Sunny and Scout win the prize! They are Best Friends' bravest employees. These two cats are the ones who "test" dogs to make sure they're cat-friendly before going to new homes. It takes a special kind of feline to take on a task like that!

Giving a dog a "cat test"

Ever wonder how a sanctuary knows whether a dog will be safe with your cats? It's one of the most common questions people ask before adopting a dog: "Can I adopt him if I have cats?" Since many dogs come to the sanctuary from unknown backgrounds, there's really no way to answer that question except ... to test it out! But what cats would be brave enough to help us with this task?

Two former stray cats test dogs

Meet Sunny and Scout. They were both strays at one time with no place to go, so perhaps they know how these dogs feel in their search for homes. Maybe if we could tell them, they'd be happy to know they're helping Best Friends' dogs get OK'd for adoption to homes with cats. They both have a cozy home now, with Best Friends dog trainer Ann Allums. Foster dogs come in and out of these cats' lives all the time at home, so they've become very blasé about canine companions. That's why Ann thought they'd be perfect for the job.

Testing a dog's response to cats

The process begins when one of the cats is put in a crate while the dog, held on leash, is allowed to sniff. If disaster ensues, the test is over! But if all seems fine, the cat is next taken out of the crate and held, while the dog is still on leash. If the dog still seems disinterested or just harmlessly curious, the next step is to put the cat on the floor, with the dog still held by a leash. If at any point the dog is unfriendly toward the cat, the test is over. But if all is going well, the very last step is to let go of the dog's leash and make sure he or she is still nice to the cat.

Many dogs have gotten their "cat friendly" sticker as a result of this test. And that's helped them go off to good homes. But it sure wouldn't be possible without the tolerant help of Sunny and Scout the Brave, who have now been on the job for a full six months. A big thanks to you two! And uh ... you might talk to Ann about a raise.

Read step-by-step instructions for introducing a dog to a cat.