Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Hello, my name is Koda. I am a beautiful (does that sound vain) three-year-old black domestic shorthair. I live with three dogs, and two of them like to chase me on occasion. It seems that after that happens, I have a foul odor. Seems to be from my back end, but I guess it could be my front. The smell goes away after a half hour or so. What could that terrible odor be?
~ Koda Kitty
Siouxsie: Well, of course it doesn’t sound vain to call yourself beautiful! We cats are all beautiful. Especially black cats like me.
Thomas: Tabby cats are beautiful too, you know!
Dahlia: Anyway, Koda, we suspect that your unfortunate odor issue results from the fact that you get so scared when the dogs chase you, that your anal glands squeeze and some nasty-smelling stuff comes out.
Siouxsie: All cats (and dogs, for that matter) have anal glands. They’re just one of the many kinds of scent glands we have. Your person can see the little openings for them at about 4:00 and 8:00 positions just under your anus.
Thomas: Normally the anal glands empty a tiny bit at a time when you poop, but sometimes when animals get really scared or traumatized, the anal glands squeeze out a little bit all their own because your rectum spasms when you get scared.
Dahlia: But honestly, the real problem here isn’t that your anal glands empty and cause a stink until you clean them. The problem is that the dogs are chasing you, and that shouldn’t happen!
Siouxsie: Some dogs chase because they want to play or they want to “herd” you. Breeds like Border Collies and various types of sheep dogs have a strong herding instinct, and if they don’t have some other way to use it, they’ll use it on cats, people, and even other dogs.
Thomas: But there are some dogs that chase and shake and try to kill — and that’s really dangerous!
Dahlia: Your person needs to see what kind of chasing your dogs are doing and then train them so they stop.
Siouxsie: Basic obedience classes are a good start. If the dogs learn commands like sit, stay, an “emergency drop” command, and leave it (break eye contact), your human can call them off when they start to chase. Your person can also monitor the dogs’ behavior and when it looks like they’re about to start chasing you, she should distract them and/or use a command like “leave it” to get their attention away from you.
Thomas: If the dogs don’t respond properly after an obedience class, your person may need to call in a private trainer to do in-home sessions.
Dahlia: While your dogs are learning how to behave, your person should make a “safe room” for you, where you can get away from the dogs when they chase. If she puts a baby gate across the doorway to one room and leaves you everything you need — a litter box, water and food (if you’re free-fed) and comfortable places to rest — you’ll have a sanctuary from those canine shenanigans.
Siouxsie: If the dogs are chasing with intent to catch and shake you, your person should never leave you alone with them.
Thomas: Once the dogs are trained to behave, your person should introduce you to the dogs while they’re on leashes so she can control them. It’s important to do these kind of careful re-introductions so that you get less scared of your canine housemates.
Dahlia: There’s a good article on Petfinder about how to train a dog to stop chasing cats.Your person may find this helpful as a starting point.
Siouxsie: Your person can find another how-to article on the dog training site Perfect Paws.
Thomas: So, Koda. Bottom line: Your person needs to give you a place to be safe from the dogs, and then she needs to train the dogs so they stop chasing you!
Dahlia: Good luck, Koda. Please let us know how things turn out for you. We’re sure you’ll have the dogs under your paw in no time, as long as your person helps by teaching them how to behave.