09 April 2010

Like cats and dogs...

That's because it's what they are. Not fighting, exactly, but not making friends either. Meet Bertie, the black cat.

Bertie, the five-year-old tomcat, on Walt's knee

Bertie arrived yesterday evening, brought over to La Renaudière by our English friend Janet. Janet used to live in Saint-Aignan, just a mile or two down the road from us. Then she moved to a little town near Blois for a few years. We stayed in touch.

Now Janet is moving back to England, where she has a new job selling high-end properties in France to British buyers. And in the move, she decided to give us Bertie rather than going through all the red tape involved in moving an animal from France to England.

Bertie on top of the stacked washer-dryer, surveying the scene

We hope Bertie will be an outdoor cat. Jan says he is a good hunter. Maybe he'll enjoy hunting moles in the back yard. Callie hasn't been any help in persuading the moles to go live somewhere else. There are at least three or four other cats in the hamlet for Bertie to get to know. Since he's been fixed, there shouldn't be too many problems. Bertie is five years old.

Right now, he is living in the utility room. I put some boards over the top of the laundry sink so that he can sit and look out the window into the back yard. Somewhere I read that cats like that; they start to familiarize themselves with their new environment that way.

If anybody has any good ideas about how you go about fostering friendship between a three-year-old border collie and a five-year-old tomcat, I'd love to hear them.


  1. Bertie is a good looking cat. But I don't especially like cats.

  2. Bertie is so handsome and given time I'm sure he will become a good friend to Callie. I hope that he will live up to Walt's expectations and be a good 'moler'. We have 6 cats and still we are searching for a solution to the moles, our cats seem afraid of them!!!!

    Regards, Carol & Michael

  3. Take a small piece of leather and form it to roughly conform to Callie's nose. Put 2 small holes in it where Callie's nostrils are. Tie this around her head like a nose mask. This will prevent damage from the inevitable "lesson" cats give dogs who haven't yet learned proper respect.

  4. I was just wondering how Callie would enjoy this new part of the household!
    Unlike chm, I like cats a lot.

  5. If you put a little tuna juice on Bertie's paw and give him a chance to lick it off in peace and quiet, he'll start to feel at home.

    Right now he needs a place to hang out away from people and Callie and noisy workmen till he gets comfortable. At night, when everyone is quiet, he'll go exploring. He's been well cared for, obviously.

    Eventually he and Callie should become friends, but let them take it at their own pace.

  6. a very sleek lookin kitty....nice shiny coat.....in my experience once the animals realize they will be living forever together, they learn to adapt to each other.....my dog even used to hump the cat, but that's another story....because the cats like being "above it all" they can always get away somewhere high....i think he will do well hunting voles, if he is already a hunter....we have very few in our yard but the catless neighbors have tons...they make good volleyballs for kitties...male cats are the sweetest

  7. Well, I know from first hand experience that cats and dogs can live very well together and become the best of friends. It just takes a little time.

    It is very kind of you two to take on Bertie and give him a new home.

  8. They'll sort out their relationship between themselves. Check out the blog Pouponette. English lady in France with a spaniel and 4 Abyssinian (sp?) cats. Amazing to see how they all get along.

  9. Claude, I've always liked cats but I used to be allergic to them. That went away, so we are rescuing Bertie.

    Carol and Michael, cats afraid of moles!?! Now I've heard everything. I hope Bertie is more intrepid.

    Bill, good idea. But maybe Callie needs to learn her lessons the hard way.

    Carolyn, thanks for that. Leaving Bertie alone in the family room and garage will be our strategy until a better one comes along. At least now I don't have to feel so guilty about leaving the poor cat all by himself for so many hours. He's very affectionate when we go down to visit with him, and he's eating just fine.

    Melinda, substitute an M for the V and you get moles. I hope Bertie likes to hunt moles and voles. So maybe benign neglect is the way to go in cat and dog relations. We'll try that. One day, they will suddenly be friends. I hope.

    Diogenes, we do feel as if we did Janet and Bertie a favor by taking Bertie in, but we had that ulterior motive: mole control. We'll see how that works out. Now that the weather is nicer, Bertie should have a nice time hunting all around the hamlet for the next 6 months. Then by winter he'll know where his home is.

  10. Jill and I look forward to meeting the newest member of your family.

  11. I think they'll get along fine once they get to know each other.

  12. Beautiful Bertie! Our dog and cat didn't like each other much at the beginning, and we fretted about it and tried to figure out what to do. We mentioned our worries to my father one day. "Well, they'll just have to get along" he said in his calm way, ever practical. And so they did. They ended up best pals, even curling up together on cold evenings. I think Callie and Bertie will become friends too!

  13. Good luck. I couldn't help remembering this:


  14. Our next-door neighbor got a cat to control the rodents-that-aren't-m/voles, and she does a great job for several of us. I wish you and Bertie much success.

  15. All of our experience is in introducing new cats into a household -- no doggies.

    The way it works for cats is you give the new cat a safe spot where the existing animal can't intrude, which you've done. There will be a good deal of sniffing and scratching at the door and some paws swiping under it.

    Make sure you give the new guy some quality time -- you want him to bond with you. Hang out in his space for a bit doing normal "you" things, not just feeding the cat and interacting with him, so that he sees you as something other than a food dispenser.

    After a couple of days, leave the door open so the new guy can stick his nose out and check out the new turf, but still retreat to the safe spot. Be prepared for some hissing and spitting, maybe a claw swipe at an unprotected nose.

    Within a week, they should be used to each other. The rest depends on the animals' dispositions. They'll sort out the alpha thing and work out their own rules.

    I know it's hard, but try to to show your favoritism too clearly.

    We've used this method over the past 20 years to introduce new cats and no one has done any damage or made enemies. They all eventually find their places and harmony has always prevailed. They have the same goals after all: a warm, comfy place to sleep and a human to provide food.


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