Close Encounters Of The Cat Kind

by Houndstooth on

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that Flattery had a bit of a close encounter with a cat this weekend.  Not all Greyhounds have the prey drive that she does, but some definitely do not belong living with small, furry animals.  Some have no interest at all, and others can learn to live with them after some training.

Bunny was correctable.  She was curious about cats when we got her, but after meeting a few, decided they weren’t worth the trouble.  When she met a cat, we held her leash tightly and one of us also held the cat if we could.  She was allowed to sniff the cat, and then we told her “no” if she got persistent about pestering the cat.  My mom’s cat attacked her out of the blue one day when we were visiting and she’s viewed cats with great suspicion ever since.

Is that a cat? -- Steve Uyehara

Is that a cat? Photo by Steve Uyehara

Flattery is not cat safe.  She’s our first experience with a dog who is high prey drive.  Before we had her here, I could have told you the textbook answers for the difference between cat safe and not cat safe, but I didn’t have the first hand experience to go with it.  When Flattery sees a cat (or rabbit, or squirrel, or tiny fluffy dog) she becomes fixated on it.  A steak could fall on her head and she would still be fixated on that little animal.  She’s not as bad as some I’ve heard of.  With the cat on the other side of a door, she was curious, but not fixated on the door and how to break it open.  Now I could tell you the difference in more colorful language.

I was surprised when our hosts offered to bring the cat out before we left and let Flattery see it with her muzzle on.  I am fairly certain that they have never experienced a high prey dog before.  I didn’t want to be writing a blog post this week about how Flattery killed someone’s cat when we went to visit.  I declined mainly because I didn’t want to write that post, and also because I don’t think they realize how stressful that would be for their cat.  I’m also not quite sure how determined Flattery would be to get a hold of the cat, but she’s got four paws to use besides her mouth.  There’s also the possibility that she could get hurt by the cat if it decided to scratch or bite her.  It just seemed like very high risk with very low pay off.  So, while the cat’s people didn’t understand the difference and the risks, I did, and I simply knew better than to pursue it any further than to say “No, thank you!”

I'm Kind Of A Big Deal -- Tales and Tails

I’m Kind Of A Big Deal

In my heart, I feel like some of Flattery’s drive can be curbed.  I think she will learn to recognize small dogs as dogs, but I think she will always have a desire to chase small furry things.  That’s just an innate part of her make up.  I’m mildly allergic to cats and Mr. Taleteller is very opposed to the idea of having another cat in our house, so I’m not pining to have another cat here and it’s not a big priority to “cure” her.  We can live with her prey drive as long as we’re realistic with ourselves and vigilant in the situations where we need to be.  If we go to visit somewhere and a cat is in residence there, we can take the necessary precautions of keeping her muzzled and leashed if need be.

It might be easier to have a dog who doesn’t want to snack on cats, but the truth is we’re kind of attached to the skinny little dervish.  There is a lot more to Flattery than her prey drive.   She’s funny, sensitive, smart, quirky and she wants more than anything for us to be happy with her.  She is more curious about the world than any of the other dogs that we’ve had, too.  After my own struggles in life to fit in somewhere, I can’t hold her imperfections against her.  I love her for what she is, and I’m happy that we have the opportunity to share the journey with her.  Our journey just won’t be crossing paths with any cats.

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22 Responses to "Close Encounters Of The Cat Kind"
  1. jet says:

    Having a non cat friendly hound really doesn’t figure much in the everyday if you don’t have a cat of your own. Foster Zelda really wanted to eat our cats but when we took her in holiday to a house free of felines she was the most awesome dog to have around.

  2. Sue Dyer says:

    Both Song and Polly are interested in cats. However I think both could have been trained to be ok if i had a cat. I have heard of dogs who are totally fine with a cat in their family, but still want to chase other cats.

    Although Song raced till she was five and a half, she didn’t seem to have a high prey drive. She took no notice of ducklings, little dogs, squirrels or even rabbits.

    Loving the photos of Flattery. She really has beautiful eyes and such a kind face.That photo of Bunny is fab as well.

  3. Sally says:

    I don’t think my George could differentiate between cats and small dogs when I adopted him – however, unlike Flattery, he is afraid of cats. Our early walks were odd at first – he’d happily greet a labrador but hide behind me if a miniature poodle appeared – eventually the penny dropped that he simply didn’t recognise these small, odd-looking creatures as dogs. It took a while but he eventually began to greet small dogs dog-to-dog.

    Very sensible of you to decline the cat-dog introduction. I do home visits with prospective hound owners and had one person very determined that their cat should meet George. He hauled it out from behind a chair before I could stop him – the cat reacted in panic, clawing its way up the owner and over his head before fleeing in the opposite direction – he was left dripping blood and it must have hurt like anything. They did go on to adopt very successfully but I expect the cat was left to meet the dog in its own time!

  4. Taffy's Mum says:

    William had a strong prey drive with cats, foxes and squirrels right to the end of his life. Even when he was unwell he still found the energy to bark at a fox whilst out on a short walk. He learnt to accept small dogs but only if they weren’t running around and I still made sure I had a good grip on his collar and lead whilst holding his head up making him watch me if they came too close. I now have two new houndies to introduce to the big wide world and get used to the local wildlife 😉

  5. Sara Blair says:

    I love Flattery just the way she is too!

    Oreo doesn’t seem to notice cats, and Chewy wants to befriend cats. My first sheltie LOVED being chased by my sister’s cat. He thought it was the best game ever. Every dog is different, and that’s why we love them.

  6. genjiscorner says:

    We’ve always had cat-safe hounds, but now that we are cat-less, our next one doesn’t have to be. The not cat-safe ones can take longer to place in homes. Once you’ve had to pry a feral cat out of a hounds mouth with a broomstick because she won’t let go, ‘Not Cat-Safe’ takes on a whole new meaning.

  7. Jen says:

    I’m sure the other owner’s heart was in the right place, but I would also have demurred. Just too much of a risk for everybody involved!

    Think you’ll ever try lure coursing, with that prey drive (I’ve probably asked that before, I apologize if I have)

  8. Rebecca says:

    Teach is highly curious of cats and if they run he will give chase. He also loves to chase off the squirrels and birds in our back yard. If you don’t have cats and aren’t getting any cats then really she will be fine, I think. We aren’t a cat family and don’t plan on being one. Honestly never really dealt with a dog with that high of prey drive either. It does sound like you all have it under control and read her well enough to control the situation (like saying no to the cat’s humans on bringing the cat out … could have been bad on for all parties!).

  9. harrispen says:

    You say that Flattery is “…our first experience with a dog who is high prey drive.” Don’t either of the GSD’s have this tendency? It would seem Morgan’s obsession with the rabbits is from high prey drive or is it just a homeland security thing?

  10. Patty says:

    Joey turns into a statue when he sees a cat. He doesn’t try to get them, but it is hard to move him. There are two feral kittens here which he enjoys looking at, but me not so much. LOL

  11. Two French Bulldogs says:

    Flattery I am not cat safe either. I heard they taste like chicken.

  12. Emma says:

    Flattery should come hang out with us. We are so driven by wabbits and squirrels, nothing stops that with us. We chase cats that don’t live in our house too. A friend of ours in Germany has a Husky that wants to kill cats, she is really working hard to train that out of her but without cats being harmed it is very difficult.

  13. Roxy says:

    That’s Ok. At least you know what to avoid with her. That’s a pretty simple trade off. No cats, beautiful dog.

  14. Jay of The Depp Effect says:

    We had a girl called Susan once. It wasn’t long before we discovered that she had the mother of all prey-drives. She would literally chase anything that wasn’t a person or greyhound-shaped. Lurchers and whippets (and children) were safe, everything else was fair game – and I mean everything. Her most famous two exploits were trying to take off after a horse being ridden along the road (she was securely leashed), and catching and eating a mouse in the garden (three strides, gulp, gone) when she was dying of metastasised kidney cancer, only about ten days before we lost her.

    She was sneaky, too, the infamous ‘silent but deadly’ type. She gave no sign of her intent, only to those like me who knew how to read her. She waited until a dog was walked right up to her (despite me calling out and warning people to keep away, they STILL insisted that she was fine) and then she’d strike like a snake. Fortunately, we were extremely vigilant and that mouse was the only living being she managed to harm. With people, she was a dream; sweet, gentle, loving, and oh-so-beautiful. She was a big,soft ticked white with spotty ears and one single kissy spot on her forehead. In a way, I still miss that girl despite her prey-drive, and despite having had her less than six months. In another way, I am kind of relieved that I don’t have to deal with that level of predatory instinct anymore.

  15. Yes I Know My Dogs Look Funny says:

    I think you are correct in your heart. Bettina is high prey but she is far less focused on small creatures now than she was when I got her. I’d never leave her in a room with a cat, but we can walk by them now without my having to drag her away. And we can go into the pet store without my having to physically carry her out of the mouse/hamster/ferret section. There is hope 🙂 Of course, I still have to carry her out of the pet store, but these days it’s because she doesn’t want to leave a good opportunity to get tons of treats from the store employees.

  16. Wyatt Airedale says:

    We understand…Flattery and our Stanzie sound like sisters from another mother. We have survived 12+ years on a short leash, no cats and several dead possums, skunks and raccoons. No cure for the prey drive, just stay aware, no “after dark” out in the yard and hang on to that leash!

  17. We had a dog named Astro, and he sounds like he had a drive like Flattery’s. We lived in mortal fear that he would kill a friend’s cat, and end a friendship forever. He was also like Flattery in that he saw small dogs as prey. Oh my!

    So, I think you’re taking a good approach. We had lots of friends who wanted to try to cure Astro by letting him meet their cats. Like you, we always said “no, thank you.”! I’m sure you’ll learn to manage Flattery’s obsession.

    Both hound photos are fabulous!

  18. misskodee says:

    “Snack on cats”… giggle… Cats can do serious injury to an eye, you be careful!

  19. Terry Cramer says:

    Cats are wonderful, but how lucky that Flattery can count on you to keep everyone safe!

    Terry from

  20. ShineJake says:

    Yup, it’s definitely better not to take too many risks in those situations, even if Flattery is such an innocent cutie!

  21. Dory and the Mama says:

    I love this post! Realizing your dog’s challenges and loving them “just the way they are” is always a joy to hear!

  22. Lori - What Remains Now says:

    I think you are wise. Flattery is fine just as she is.

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