Kitten Provides Antidote to Dog’s Anxiety

Kitten Provides Antidote to Dog’s Anxiety

Kittens Hummus and Honey were just a month old when a good Samaritan found them in the Bronx and brought them to the ASPCA. They were later admitted to the ASPCA Kitten Nursery. Just one week later, Rosemarie T., an ASPCA volunteer, took them home to provide foster care.

Rosemarie’s previous shelter cat, Fluffy, who died last New Year’s Day, was still on her mind.

“Fluffy lived to be 20 years old,” says Rosemarie. “I’ve always been an animal lover, especially of cats and kittens.” 

Rosemarie’s dog, Daisy, an eight-year-old pit bull mix she adopted from Animal Care Centers of NYC, also loves kittens. Daisy took to the pair of felines right away, licking and cleaning them, and sleeping next to them.

“I think she always wanted to be a mommy,” Rosemarie says.
 

A Challenge for Daisy

Four years ago, Rosemarie came home and noticed Daisy was trembling and trying to hide.

“Something must have really scared her,” Rosemarie says. “Since then, she doesn’t like being home alone. She suffers from separation anxiety.” 

Rosemarie consulted her veterinarian, who put Daisy on Prozac. 

“That wasn’t really working, so I consulted a veterinary behaviorist who offered gabapentin, which can relieve situational anxiety. 

 “Daisy no longer trembles, but she doesn’t like to come back inside after I walk her in the morning,” Rosemarie says. “She thinks I’m going to leave her.”
 

A Cat’s Calming Effect

After a month fostering Hummus and Honey, and after they were both spayed, Rosemarie adopted the pair and renamed them Tulip and Sparkles, respectively. She noticed that Tulip had a calming effect on Daisy.

When Rosemarie prepares to leave the apartment, Tulip lies down on Daisy’s bed. 

“When Daisy sees Tulip lying down, she joins her,” Rosemarie says.

And when Daisy returns from a walk, Tulip comes out into the hallway to greet her, then follows her in.

“She literally helps Daisy walk back into the apartment,” Rosemarie says. 

All of Rosemarie’s fosters, including Tulip and Sparkles, benefit from Daisy’s attention.

“The kittens get used to dogs, and that’s great socialization,” Rosemarie says. “Daisy likes kittens even more than other dogs.” 

“Some animals seem to benefit from the company of other animals,” says Marny Nofi, Senior Manager of the ASPCA Behavioral Sciences Team. “It can help ease stress and anxiety—if the animals like each other—or simply be a source of enrichment.”
 

A Love of Fostering

Rosemarie, a retired schoolteacher who works as a personal trainer, wrote a children’s book about Daisy, called “Daisy The Cow, Or Is She?”

“Daisy loves children, and every time kids see Daisy, they think she’s a cow because of her black spots,” says Rosemarie. “The book is about bullying and how some kids aren’t accepted because of the way they look.”

Even with her expanded household, Rosemarie plans to keep fostering.

“Since 2012, Rosemarie has fostered 31 animals,” says Karina Josenhans, Manager of Animal Logistics for the ASPCA Kitten Nursery. “We’re grateful for Rosemarie, and the kittens are, too.” 

“My favorite thing about fostering is just taking care of them,” Rosemarie says. “And I love watching them play and, most of all, seeing how they interact with Daisy.”

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