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FAQs - Living with cats

Living with cats

Many breeds of dog will chase cats, the difference is that greyhounds are more likely to catch them.

Lots of owners report their greyhounds living with cats, chickens, rabbits etc quite happily. A few dogs may be afraid of the cat. Many dogs can be trained to accept that cats living in the home are friends, and not dinner. Even if they accept their own family cats, dogs that are keen to chase are not easily de-trained from trying to chase small prey when they are out on walks. It's the owner's responsibility to make sure that the dog isn't let off the lead if he might endanger another animal.

Greyhounds have been bred to chase small furry animals, either for racing or coursing. They are then training to chase. In spite of all this, the most common reason for a dog to be dropped from training is failure to chase. Lurchers may have the chasing instinct, and some may have been 'worked' which will sharpen this drive.

The key thing is to work with your re-homing group to find the right dog for your home situation. They will also be able to advice on how to safely introduce the dog and cat.

Here's the word from some people that have already done it:

  • There are lots of greyhounds that are safe with cats. Depending on where you are, your nearest greyhound group should be able to help. They will probably know which of their dogs would suit you and will have 'cat-tested' (safely for the cat!!!). Also should visit you at home to discuss pros & cons to help you and the dog get the best start. If they do not have one, they will probably be able to give you the name of a group that does. It may mean waiting for a short while - but not always.
  • ... with our most recent hound, it took a lot of work (he was clearly trained with live prey, and has a very strong prey drive). It's quite do-able, but I'd read everything I could, first - and also keep your grey muzzled until you're absolutely sure nothing will happen (cats can show their resentment at the new intruder in some pretty clever ways...)
  • Our retired 6 year old grey has a strong chasing instinct and gets wildly excited when he sees an unknown cat on our walks. However we do have a tiny, weedy, cat of our own and they get on fine (did so within a month). I think the dog no longer considers her under the category 'cat', just 'other thing that lives in house'. We did all the usual things on introduction and we always make sure that the cat has an escape route and a safe place if the two of them are left alone. But we've never had any problems to date. My experience is that just about any animals (obviously within reason) will learn to get on happily with each other with careful initial management (and 3 weeks is the usual adjustment time). So for anyone with a cat considering getting a dog, yes get a greyhound - they're the best!
  • ... it was important to get a dog that would not attack the cats, within 24 hours Harry was only to happy to lay on the floor while the cats used his ribcage as a springboard to get onto the chair! Harry is a well mannered dog who has not shown the slightest inclination to chase anything (other than me up and down the garden)and he is settling in well. The Nottingham Greyhound Trust have been absolutely fantastic with matching a dog to my needs and environment, if you have not called your local branch I strongly suggest you do, the advice is invaluable and I am sure it will help put your mind at rest.
  • Non-chasers are often very good candidates for cat-testing, and, as a bonus, they are still young, often with no exclusions to put on the pet insurance, and often a little more playful and puppyish than older ex-racers. There are of course also some ex-racers who have very little interest in chasing real cats, and there are more ex-racers who can be trained not to chase, at least not to chase the family cats.
  • I was assured by Anne Finch of Greyhounds in Need that her beautiful rescued galgos were perfectly well behaved with cats. We were apprehensive, however Charlie (the galgo) proved to be very well mannered - until recently he wouldn't even eat his food if the cats were in the kitchen and has never tried to chase them or any that we have seen on our walks. In fact he has brought peace to their lives, as one of our cats was always bullied by the other. Now that the smaller one has set up an alliance with the dog (they sleep in the same basket), there is no more bullying. Incidentally, he has also demonstrated that he is not interested in chasing chickens, sheep, lambs, rabbits or squirrels. (Although he loves chasing/playing with other dogs). If you are considering adopting a greyhound but are worried about your other pets, I would highly recommend contacting Anne or others from Greyhounds in Need.
  • Be very careful and if you are really serious about a greyhound try to get one that will accept cats. Our Elkie came to us and like you we had one very nervous cat as well as an old cat and a kitten. The nervous cat was petrified and never took to the dog. The kitten got bowled over and had to spend 6 weeks in a cage to mend a cracked scapula ! Elkie took a long time to get used to the cats - even now 18 months later I would not trust her totally.
  • We've got two greys and are currently fostering a lurcher. All three are fine with both cats, even the one who is a little strange - he bolts in front of them as though they're going to murder him, even when he's been curled up with them five minutes before. Stupid creature.
  • We have had Bouncer for nearly a year now. At first he thought the cat was fair game, but with time, patience and careful handling, they became firm friends.
  • He's always been much happier with smaller dogs, and accepts a firm 'no' about chasing cats, except when you're not looking! He does know it's naughty, though, and in actual fact is scared of cats when they stop and hiss. He even plays with my mother's ex-feral cat who has taught him who's boss!
  • We've got 6 dogs now, and we're training the new arrival NOT to chase my 5 cats. With all my other dogs (and hopefully with this one eventually,) I found a spray of water on the nose deterred them from chasing in the house/garden. They will chase outside, but only in play, cause if they 'catch' their prey, they just nudge them as if to say "Go on then, run, so I can chase you some more"!!
  • Just a few months ago my boyfriend brought a kitten home. this was a big ex-racer/stray with a small furry thing. His approach was no different, he ran to Oscar and wanted to play! I tried to calm him down a bit in case Oscar got squashed! but now they play chase...and it works both ways, Oscar sometimes chases Ben although I think Ben is usually oblivious to being chased as Oscar is mainly trying to catch the white tip on Bens tail!!
  • I have a spannish sighthound adopted through GIN and despite the fact that she is not yet perfect with cats, she has learned that my cat was a huge "NO HUNT" and she is wonderfull with small dogs.  

Information provided by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill

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