Q: My two dogs and cat peacefully coexist. However, a dear friend visits with her dog, and it is complete pandemonium. Her dog gets along great with my two dogs, but she is very cat-aggressive. My cat ends up spending days holed up in the cellar and sneaks into the house only at night. If the visiting dog becomes aware that the cat is present, she chases him through the house until he finds a hiding spot. Any suggestions as to how we can remedy this?

A: It would be great if we could enroll cats in self-defense courses where they learn to stand their ground and swipe at a dog's nose with their claws instead of turning tail and running.

Your cat's safety and comfort are paramount. When your friend's dog comes over, she should be on leash and under control. She and your dogs can play together outdoors, but when she's in the cat's territory, her actions need to be curtailed. In case they do encounter each other, your cat needs an avenue of escape, such as a tall cat tree or a piece of furniture he can run under where the dog can't go.

Separation is another alternative. Set up a comfortable retreat for your cat in a room that's off-limits to the dog, such as a bedroom, guest room or office. Provide your cat with everything he needs - comfy resting spot, litter box, a couple of favorite toys, food and water - and let him hang out there while the guest dog is on the premises.