Bernese Mountain Dogs and Cats


"Matthew N. Kleiman" Wed, 28 Jun 1995 17:02:58 -0500 (CDT)

Hi, my name is Erika Kunik. After hours of research (on the Internet and in books) , my husband and I decided that we would love to have a Bernese Mountain Dog as a pet. Your homepage was really informative and led us to other resources. Right now I have two questions that you may be able to answer.

Do you know anyone who has Bernese Mountain Dogs and cats? And if you do, do you know how well they get along? (We have two cats.) [...snip...]

I really appreciate you time and hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.

Berners and Cats (Doug Gentry) Wed, 28 Jun 1995 22:27:23 -0800

Erika -

Kristine and BrettzzKodi an

Your message got forwarded to the Berner-L list.

We have a 6 month old Berner guy, Tanner, and a five year old cat, Timothy. They get along fine. Like your situation the cat was here first, so he set the rules.

At first Tanner got quite a number of swats on the nose from an annoyed house partner. Neither of them could "speak" the other's language. Tanner learned quickly to be careful about paws and claws. Now after four months together they play a fair amount. The cat comes and rubs his jaw gland against the dog (who by now is 7x the cat's weight) and allows himself to be sniffed. If both are in a playful mood the cat will flop on the floor on his back and stretch out for the dog. The dog will "whoof" in his best "I wanna play" voice, and they'll jab at each other. Sometime we have chases through the house. Sometimes the cat will suddenly turn on the dog and sink his teeth into the dog's leg or snout - but no one seems to mind.

We let both of them sleep in our bedroom - cat on our bed; dog on the floor. The only trouble this causes sometimes is if one of them wakes up early and gets the other one going - but generally they're both pretty good in the morning.

You'll love a Berner, and the cat won't mind too much as long as he still gets his attention.

...Doug Betsy Philip Katy......and Tanner and Timothy (and Magic the rat)

Sally 2

Berners and cats Marina Chiste Thu, 29 Jun 1995 11:26:05 -0700

Hi Erika,

I don't personally own a cat but my sister does so when I went to visit her with Sofia I was a bit nervous about the reaction. Boy, was I ever surprised! She was so gentle with the cat and the cat took to her right away, rubbing up against her, standing underneath her with his tail wrapped around her side and up her back. It was hilarious to watch. Sofia would nudge him with her nose and "chase" him around the house and when things would get a bit too crazy for him, he'd gently put his paw on her nose as if to say, "OK, that's enough now." I honestly have never met an aggressive Berner and can't imagine one being cruel to a cat. This couple I know has a Belgian Tervuren who keeps killing and eating gophers and has actually killed a cat! Berners seem to be more gentle and laid-back, or at least the ones I've met.

You will truly enjoy your Berner, they're the best dogs out there! Good luck!


BLUE Guthridge with Pal in Maine

BERNER-L Digest 101

Cat litter and dogs Steve M Dudley Mon, 25 Sep 1995 14:06:58 -0700

Hi all,

Well, yet another interesting piece gleened from another discussion group I thought you'd all like to see. Though seemingly unrelated to the topic at hand on this group, I encourage you to read the article through as the implications for dogs is also significant (see discussion within Marinas article here.). I know many of you, from your past posts, are living in co-specie residences. This could certainly have implications for all beloved pets exposed. This is published with the expressed permission granted me by Marina McInnis(author) and I thank her for her permission to share it with you.

Steve Flagstaff, Az.


I recently had an article published on the dangers of clumping clay litters, Since then, I've received a large amount of email telling me of other problems I didn't mention, or mentioned only by reference, in my article. It seems to me worthwhile to post this article to those of you on this list; here it is.

The article provides a lsit of alternative litters. Note that I have since tried other alternative litters, and still find Care Fresh to be the most satisfactory. I'm even using it to line my finch aviary-style cage now.



by Marina McInnis

(This article first appeared in the January/February 1995 issue of TIGER TRIBE: HOLISTIC HEALTH and MORE FOR CATS. For information on a free trial subscription call 800-862-6759)

COPYRIGHT 1995 by Marina Michaels McInnis. All rights reserved. You can contact the author for reprint rights at or at (707) 573-7063.

Cats die. Kittens die. It's part of life. But we still grieve when they die, even though we know it is only the body, not the spirit, that is gone. How much worse we feel when those deaths were unnecessary-could have been prevented by something as simple as changing the kind of litter we use.

I breed Japanese Bobtail cats and I grieved in 1994 when an entire litter of kittens (born in November 1993) died. Despite round-the-clock nursing and force-feeding of fluids and food, one kitten, then another, let go of his grasp on life.

The three kittens started out as a robust, lively group. Then, at weaning time, just as they were learning to use the litterbox, they began to vomit a yellow frothy substance and to pass yellow diarrhea; the diarrhea looked and smelled like clay. They also had nasal and eye discharge. The diarrhea proceeded to turn harder and even more clay-like, and finally the kittens stopped moving their bowels at all. The veterinarians said they could feel "a hard mass" inside. The kittens dwindled into thin, dehydrated, frail little skeletons, sunk in apathy. Then they died.

When these kittens first fell sick, I wasn't too worried because I had seen the same set of symptoms in two earlier litters. The first time it happened I'd lost one kitten, but the other survived with a week of force-feeding fluids. When a second litter started to exhibit the same symptoms, we took the kittens and their parents to the veterinarian, who tested them for everything from intestinal parasites to feline AIDS. The results were negative. "Some kind of virus" was the vague diagnosis, or "possibly giardia" (an intestinal parasite), even though the test for it was negative. We nursed them, gave them fluids and love, and like the previous kittens, these two were over the problem in a week.

So the third time, with the November kittens, although I was a little worried, I was confident we could pull these through as well. But their illness dragged on for three weeks, and they grew progressively weaker. Again we had the cats and kittens tested for a variety of problems; again, nothing. And then, all within the same week, the kittens died.

When a fourth litter, born in late March 1994, began to exhibit the same symptoms yet again, I felt frustrated, frightened, and helpless. What was going on? Was there something in the environment? Was my home somehow a "sick house?" Was one of the adult cats carrying something that the kittens were picking up? I always keep my cats indoors, so it couldn't be exposure to outside cats.


I decided I needed a new perspective and began to look for a holistic veterinarian. The next day, a friend gave me the card of a new holistic veterinarian in town, Dr. Stephanie Chalmers.

But before I had the chance to take the kittens to see this new vet, I was struck by a bolt of lightning. The clumping litter! It was almost as though someone had whispered it into my ear. It made perfect sense. Everything fit; it explained all the symptoms. My thinking went along these lines:

Clumping litter is designed to form a hard, insoluble mass when it gets wet. It also produces a fine dust when stirred (as when a cat scratches around to bury a recent deposit). And these clumping litters absorb many times their weight in fluids.

When cats or kittens use the litterbox, they lick themselves clean; anything their tongues encounter gets ingested. Kittens especially tend to ingest a lot of litter when they are first learning to use the box.

Once the litter is inside a kitten or cat, it expands, forming a mass and coating the interior-thus, both causing dehydration by drawing fluids out of the cat or kitten, and compounding the problem by preventing any absorption of nutrients or fluids. My cats and kittens had probably reacted with diarrhea initially in an effort to cleanse their bodies of the litter before it had a chance to settle and coat their insides. But kittens have very small intestines; a hard insoluble mass could very well produce a complete and fatal blockage within a couple of weeks.

On the strength of these deductions, I immediately went out and bought a plant-based litter to replace the clumping litter. I also took several of the hard, clay-like lumps of stool produced by two of the kittens and smeared them open. Not only did the stools have the consistency, smell, and texture of clay, but they even retained the color of the litter (gray with blue flecks) inside. This was confirmation enough for me.

As soon as I could, I took all the kittens along with their mother to Dr. Chalmers, who said that she had already heard of problems like this with the clumping clay litters. She put the kittens on a holistic course of treatment (slippery elm to help soothe the intestines; homemade chicken broth to nourish the kittens without putting further strain on their insides).

She also showed me an article by Lisa Newman, another holistic health practitioner, citing some of the cases of illness and death that she (Lisa Newman) has seen first hand-illnesses and deaths most likely caused by clumping litter. A light went on in my head when I read the following:

"There has been a rise in depressed immune systems, respiratory distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and vomiting (other than hair balls) among cats that I have seen in the past two years. All had one thing in common...a clumping product in their litterbox. In several cases, simply removing the litter improved the condition of the cat." (Healthy Pets-Naturally, April 1994.)

The problem of health difficulties and even deaths resulting from clumping litters appears to be more prevalent than most people are aware of. I recently spoke with another Japanese Bobtail breeder, who told me of a kitten she sold that subsequently became very ill with a severe respiratory problem. The new owner used a clumping litter, and her veterinarian found that the kitten's lungs were coated with dust from the litter.

For a veterinarian to spot this problem is unusual. A more common diagnosis would lay the blame at the door of a virus, germ, fungus or parasite. There is not a general awareness yet that the clumping litters can be harmful-even fatal-to cats.


And the problem extends beyond cats. As Lisa Newman points out in her article, dogs get into the litterbox for "snacks," and ingest the litter too. She reports that the autopsy of one dog revealed that his stomach was filled with the clumping litter.

An article entitled "How Cat Litter is Made" recently appeared in Cat Fancy magazine (October 1994). Shockingly, the article contains no cautions against the use of clumping litters, even though the description of one of the main ingredients in such products should be enough to alarm any thinking person. "Sodium bentonite, a naturally swelling clay, is often added as an extremely effective clumping agent. When liquid is added, bentonite swells to approximately 15 times its original volume. But because sodium bentonite acts as an expandable cement would, litters containing sodium bentonite should never be flushed; when they expand they can block plumbing." A few moments' thought is all that is needed to realize that something able to block household plumbing must be wreaking havoc on the plumbing of our feline companions.

What about my kittens after I switched to a plant-based litter? Sadly, the two females died. Both were passing clay stools right up until the time of their deaths; one kitten was still passing clay almost two weeks after I switched litters. The two males survived, though it took months for them to fully recover. Only after switching to a completely organic, homemade diet was I able to clear up the last traces of their ordeal. And still I grieve for the kittens who died so needlessly.


You may feel as horrified as I do at the thought that there must be thousands of kittens and cats (and other animals) ailing or even dying from clumping clay litters. What can we do to prevent such suffering?

One thing is let the manufacturers know we won't buy such products. My husband called a company that makes one of these clumping litters. The woman he spoke with said that the company is aware that clumping litters may be causing health problems, but that it is the consumer's responsibility to make sure their cats don't eat the stuff.

My husband pointed out that cats clean themselves with their mouths, so of course they're going to eat the litter every time they use their cat boxes. Unfortunately, the company's representative maintained her "buyer beware" position.

Given the attitudes of such companies, we can vote with our pocketbooks by purchasing products from businesses that are more responsive to our concerns. Be sure to let the makers of the clumping litter know why you no longer purchase their product. You might even choose to boycott all products made by these companies (it isn't hard to find out who makes what- just read the labels) . An even more effective move might be to show this article to the owners or managers of stores selling these products.

If you suspect that an animal may be suffering an ailment caused by clumping litter, take him or her to a veterinarian or holistic practitioner immediately, and explain what you think may be happening. If you encounter resistance it may mean that the veterinarian is unfamiliar with the problem and doesn't know how to handle it. Try to find a holistic vet-either locally or someone you can work with by phone-who has some experience with clumping litter impacting the intestines. Most importantly, replace the clumping litter right away with one of the plant-based alternatives (see chart). Even if your cat is healthy, it makes sense to switch to a different litter.

If you love cats as I do, spread the word. Tell everyone you know about this problem. Tell your veterinarian. You may save the lives of many kittens, cats, and other beloved creatures.



Natural alternatives to clumping litters, such as plant-based litters, are now available at many pet and health food stores. Plant-based litters are usually made from some combination of alfalfa, oat hulls, corn cob, peanut hulls, or paper. I've tried a number of these litters, and discuss their pros and cons below, but there are one or two other points I'd like you to note:

In regard to 'deodorizing'-do be aware that this shouldn't be a big problem unless your cat is sick or you're not cleaning the box a minimum of once a day. Deodorizers are usually toxic chemicals and not something you want your cat to lick off his pads. If you're a real stickler on this issue, please note that alfalfa-based litters deodorize (naturally, not through additives) better than any other kind of litter I tried.

Don't use plain sand; it can also be the cause of respiratory problems. Cedar or pine shavings may seem like a good idea, but I have concerns about what they might do inside a cat.

In a pinch, or if you really want to save money, Anitra Frazier recommends trying four thicknesses of old newspaper in a box with a few torn up strips on top. This works pretty well if you're willing to change the box two to four times per day, per cat.

If you can't find a plant-based litter, don't panic. The old standby clay type has worked pretty well for years. With this litter, the individual pieces are large enough for a cat or kitten to spit out. Again, just be sure to avoid any product treated with a chemical deodorizer.

Unfortunately, my gold medalist for all-time best cat litter, Litter Green, is not on this list. Its producer, the Clorox Company, discontinued the product and sold the rights to Bio Plus in Florida. Litter Green was completely natural and naturally deodorizing (through the miracle of chlorophyll), small-pelleted, comfortable for cats, and it tracked very little. Bio Plus is coming out with their version of Litter Green some time soon.

Care Fresh Absorption Corporation 1051 Hilton Avenue Bellingham, WA 98225 (800) 242-2287 Description: Fluffy paper-based product. Biodegradable. Dust- free.Flushable. Incinerable. Cost: $3.59 for 10 quarts. Comments: Highly satisfactory from the cats' point of view. And mine too, with one tiny nit-pick: the fluffiness of the product made it difficult to scoop just the wet material, which bothered my thrifty nature. Being able to flush it more than made up for this, however, as I found that I would scoop whenever I went into the bathroom, which meant that the cat box got cleaned several times a day, rather than once a day. The package claims it is naturally deodorizing, and it certainly seems to be. It also lasts and lasts-I was surprised at how long one small package lasted.

Cat Country Organic Premium Litter for Cats M.M.P., Inc. P.O. Box 778 Lewistown, MT 59457 (800) 752-8864 Description: Biodegradable. Plant-based. Dust-free. Flushable. Cost: $3.49 for 10 pounds. Comments: The pellets are too large. Cats can't do a satisfactory dig-and-bury with this product. Surprisingly, large as they are, the pellets still tend to get kicked out and underfoot. This product is fine otherwise; naturally deodorizing and economical. Note that this litter (like all plant-based products) forms into rather large masses when wet. I find that this makes changing the cat box easier, rather than more difficult.

Cedar Lite Cedarized Cat Litter Cedrus International Riverside, CA 92504 Description: Cedar-based litter. Cost: $3.49 for 450 cu. inches (the package states that this equals 12 pounds of clay litter). Comments: I didn't try this product.

Citra-Fresh Pet Litter Blossom Products Company P.O. Box 4163 Scottsdale, AZ 85261 Description: Fluffy, light-colored, dried citrus materials. Cost: $3.99 for 4 pounds (7 quarts). Comments: The fluffy texture, although perhaps okay for a cat's paws, didn't seem as satisfying to my cats in terms of being able to do a good dig-and-bury.

Good Mews Stutzman Environmental Products Canby, OR 97013 Description: 100% recycled, pelletized organic fiber, scented with cedar oil. Cost: $2.99 for 7 dry quarts (10 pounds equivalent). Comments: Similar to Hi-Tor's product; I liked Hi-Tor better.

Hi-Tor Dust-Free Cat Litter Triumph Pet Industries P.O. Box 100 Hillburn, NY 10931 Description: Made from recycled newspaper that has been processed and formed into pellets. Biodegradable. Dust free. Cost: $3.49 for 5 pounds. Comments: The cats liked this product. The pellet size is small enough to let them get in a good, satisfying dig, and to bury the results afterward. I liked it because it tracked far less than other litters, and because it is made from recycled newspapers. The cost is quite reasonable, since a little of this went a surprisingly long way. Deodorizing capabilities are on par with Care Fresh. Until Litter Green comes back on the market, this is my top choice.

SWheat Scoop Litter Pet Care Systems, Inc. 717 North Clinton St. Grand Ledge, MI 48837 PHONE: 800-794-3287 Description: Recylable litter made from wheat and corn. Cost: $7.95 for 8.8 pounds Comments: Clumps well. Used and liked by Tiger Tribe staff (the cats, not the people). The editors of Tiger Tribe recommend you change and scoop more often than recommended on the packaging.


Alfalfa In the spirit of experimentation, I went to a feed store and purchased plain alfalfa pellets (the kind you feed to rabbits). I could only find large-sized pellets, which were about the same size as the pellets in Cat Country. In fact, they worked just about the same as Cat Country, with perhaps slightly better deodorizing power. I paid $6.25 for a 50-pound bag, which makes it the most economical alternative. If I could find it in smaller pellets, I'd use this as my cat litter.

Corn Cob Corn cob is also available for $6.25 for 50 pounds. I use corn cob for the bottom of my bird cage, and it is the very best cage-liner I have ever used. However, as a cat litter, although I really didn't try it, I suspect it wouldn't be as good. The pellets are small enough (barely), but they are quite rough and I wouldn't think that cats would enjoy scratching about in them. Also, corn cob isn't at all good at deodorizing.

Peanut-Hull Litter I also tried a peanut-hull-based litter and found that it worked quite well, except when it came to controlling odors. Also, since peanuts are generally a heavily chemically treated crop, I worry about the toxicity of the shells.

Marina McInnis is a freelance technical writer. She was raised holistically, but it took a while for her to switch to raising her cats that way. She's been breeding Japanese Bobtails for three years, although she's had cats in the house "for as long as I can remember." Her mother claims Marina never, ever, pulled a cat's tail, and that once a cat saved her life. She hopes to return the favor with this article. You can reach Marina through Tiger Tribe or Compuserve: 72640, 1205.

BERNER-L Digest 241

Poop eating Fri, 8 Mar 1996 20:41:33 -0500

Good day to all the Berner folk--

My Bailey adores feces from all species. Some Berners only eat poop when they're pups or only when it's frozen. Most dogs eat cat feces. (I suppose the little lap dogs don't, but all big dogs I know). These are disgusting, but generally harmless habits. Dogs can pick up parasites from this, but I presume all the Berner owners on this list are frequently checking for worms or deworming. They don't eat feces because they are missing things from their diet. All my nutrition training indicated that animals can't "sense" nutrition imbalances and compensate. They eat feces, I'm sure, cause they think they taste good!!

Forbid is the commercial product that can be used to discourage coprophagia with mixed results (didn't help Bailey). It used to have the same ingredients as Adolph's meat tenderizer, but I think they changed the meat tenderizer. Unless your dog has heart disease (other than SAS like Griffin Reeve) don't worry about the salt in these products--probably wont' hurt the dog for the limited time you should need to use it.

To Melissa in FL--Have you tried i/d for flatulence? This is probably one of the foods Hill's subsidizes to the vet school. Thanks for all the informative posts but shouldn't you be studying?!!!!

Kathy Berge DVM BMDCA health committee

puppies and things they eat Karen Fischer Fri, 8 Mar 1996 21:01:07 -0600

I have heard that cat droppings are tasty to dogs because cat food has a higher protein content than dog food so even after it's been through the cat, the dog thinks its pretty good.

The worst scare I had with my pup was wild mushrooms. I have never lived in a yard with so many different kinds of mushrooms. Mushrooms, you know, can spring up within hours of a warm rain in the spring or fall. Even if you pick them all in the morning, by afternoon others will show up, at least in my yard they do. If I hadn't seen her eat the mushroom, I wouldn't have known what she had. They were small with a dark brown cap. They were hardly an inch high and the stem was half the size of a pencil. I tried to take it away from her and got most of it but she ate a piece, the size I think was about the first joint of my little finger when she weighed about 35 lbs. I didn't think too much of it at the time.

rosemary and doug brenner4

Two hours later she was in the house and wanted to go outside. When I let her out it was comical to see. She had the runs really bad and it just shot out of her in a liquid stream with sound effects. She couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from behind her and kept turning to find it, which meant she sprayed in a circle around herself. When she came in I saw that she was drooling thick Karo syrup like drool so that her entire chest was sopping wet. That's when I thought of poisoning and called the vet (after hours of course) I live in a rural area and the vet was an hour's drive at highway speed away. When he called back and I told him it had been two hours since I took the mushroom from her, he said there was nothing to do but wait. With that much time whatever it was was past her stomach and it wouldn't do any good to try to make her throw up. She didn't seem to have any other discomfort and the drooling soon stopped. There was only the one bout of diarrhea. My neighbor, who is a human doctor said afterwards the symptoms sounded like something that could have brought on a kind of shock that could stop the heart and affect the nervous system. The mushroom season ended and the pup grew up. Although Heidi continues to have many faults, she is no longer interested in eating mushrooms, although she loves to eat wild bird droppings, and even licks them off the lowest branches of the spruce trees where the sparrows have roosted for the night. :) Karen Fischer

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Cates and Bernese "Lynn Robinson" Tue, 12 Mar 96 10:41:49 GMT

Hi, Wanted to add to the cat discussion. We've always had cats and dogs together. And because eventually all pets go to heaven, we've done the whole range of adding pups to existing adult cats; kittens to established adult dogs; adult rescue cats to a mix of grown and young Bernese. We've never had any problems, but are always careful about the introductions. I don't know, but I think it's important to remain very calm yourself. Just think very clearly in your own head, that this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, and I think the calmness is infectious.

We give the cats their own space dogs aren't allowed upstairs, cats are. Cats eat on the windowsill; the dogs can reach, but know they aren't allowed to. I did get a bit of a scare when I found the puppy dragging my old pirate cat around the garden by his head (which was completely inside the pup's mouth.) Panicked, until I realised that occasionally the pup would let go, the cat would go up a tree to clean the slobber off, then come back for another drag! My youngest cat plays chase with the pup, and Holly lies down to get her tummy cleaned (but beware the claws if the cleaning gets rough). In short, all pretty harmonious.

Lynn Robinson


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Re: Bernese and cats Tue, 19 Mar 96 18:16:54 PST

We have three cats and nine dogs (and a parrot). All our animals live in the house. All three cats are fixed. Ebony and Gain (deceased) were the only ones around when we got our first two cats. Sylvester is a mix, black and white short hair. Lady is also a mix, mon himalayan and dad siamese. For the first three days the kittens had a hard time getting used to the dogs. They spent most of their time behind the refrigerator. As soon as they had figured out that the dogs didn't intend to chase them they became friend. Several dogs later we got another cat (Noname), black. The daughter of a friend of mine found her mom along the roadside, pregnant. So we don't know her background. A strange thing happened. She didn't like to be touched by us, this went on for almost two years. But she really bonded to Gain. They liked to sleep together. Dogs and cats have learned to exist together. Lady doesn't care very much for the dogs. She either lives in our greenhouse or spends time upstairs in our office. Trying to help typing. Sylvester and Noname like to sleep on the chairs in the kitchen, right among all the dogs. They know exactly with ones like to chase them, and they will stay out of their way. BTW, all of our animal coexist with the parrot(Rio). When they are young they are introduced to him. He will tell them in no certain terms who the boss is, and from that point they all leave him alone. Of course, I would never leave them together unsupervised when he is outside his cage .



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Kitty Problem "Sherry R. Rowe" Sun, 19 Jan 1997 21:31:10 -0800


I have a gate in my hall that I use to separate my home. At night and during workdays I close it so my cat can have the front half of our home and the dogs get the back half. This is just so the cat can have time alone to eat and relax. My berners have always been great with her but my sheltie/spitz has always terrorized her.

The gate I use is actually attached to the wall on one side with eyebolts in a stud on the other wall. I don't even use the top bolt, I just slip the hook into the bottom one. I can open it with my foot but the dogs are so used to it that they don't even try.

This in no way inhibits their guarding of my home. The noise they make will send anyone considering entering on their way.

My brother had my kitty de-clawed also while she lived with him. As Tilly mellows a little with age, Emily will get used to her and gain confidence. Nothing is cuter than seeing Critter wrap her paws around Troopers head and staring into his eyes as if to say "Hey, bighead! Find another pillow!" My critter is almost 12 but has always lived with big dogs so she has become very adaptable.

Hope this helps, Sherry Redmond, WA

p.s. Have to share another Critter story - She learned to count! This happened because I had Rescue Berners staying with us while I screened potential homes. I found it curious why Critter didn't react at first. Then I realized it was because she didn't know that these were not the regular pack that lived with us. One of my Berners spends a lot of time in the bedroom and Critter just thought it was her. It was the 3rd or 4th Rescue that I had here that was overly cat curious and got a little rambunctious by following her onto the back of the couch. After that I definitely saw Critter taking head counts if there seemed an abundance of black bodies around.

BERNER-L Digest 565

Cats and Dogs Karen Fischer Mon, 20 Jan 1997 00:18:00 -0600

I do hope the woman with the 10 year old cat can find a way to make it more comfortable. I have two cats. One was a senior citizen when I got Heidi at 10 wks. She was not happy about it, but has lived with other dogs I have had and adjusted. As Heidi got older and bolder, it was important for Ingrid to be able to get away and feel safe. I did make a place for her on the second floor. Modern scoopable cat litters make cat boxes pretty odor free. Her food and water are also on the second floor. Heidi is not allowed on the second floor. Heidi is allergic to wheat and I don't want her eating cat food, either before or after the cat eats it.

If you really can't make arrangements for the cat on another floor, maybe you can solve the problem by fixing a door so it can only open so far, enough to let the cat through, but not a Berner. A nail or screw hook in a door frame and a loop of string over the door handle will keep the door from opening too wide. A folded cloth draped over the top of the door can be adjusted so the door can't shut all the way. Then you can put the cat's food and litterbox in a room the dog can't reach. Also putting the food and water up on a piece of furniture too high for the dog to reach might make the cat feel safer when it's eating.

I think it's important for every pet to feel safe. Hope you can work something out. Karen Fischer

how she suffers