Just because a dog tests cat-tolerant, or lives in a foster home with cats, does NOT mean
it will automatically be tolerant of cats in the new home.
Greyhounds should never be encouraged to play with cats (no matter how cute it might
Advise adopters to keep the animals separated when they are not home to monitor the
Even a cat-tolerant Greyhound is likely to chase a cat when outdoors.
The best way to introduce a dog to your cat is:
Walk the dog into the house on lead, held with a strong grip, with a muzzle on the dog. If
he lunges at the cat, give him a check (hard tug) with the lead while saying
"NO!" in a stern tone. Use a squirt bottle, if needed, to help emphasize the
"No Kitty" command. Give the indoor cats plenty of safe areas to get to....high
spots, small openings, and a
babygate slightly raised off the floor for a cat to scoot under. Keep a muzzle on the
Greyhound until you are SURE that it understands the concept of "No Kitty".
Warn adopters that a dog will instinctively jump up and nip if a cat is held in the
owner's arms, above the dog's head.
"I'd like to share our cat-training experience, even though I've only had Jenny three
weeks and I believe we got lucky with Jenny and our two cats. Our male cat, Dodger, is a
12-pound Manx with a hundred-pound attitude. The female is eight pounds and rather shy.
"To introduce them, we leashed and muzzled Jenny, and harnessed and leashed Dodger,
just to make sure everybody was under control. The two animals were brought into an empty
room, and slowly (over 30 minutes) brought closer together. This reduced the shock of a
sudden meeting. Since the cat was restrained, he didn't run and activate Jen's prey/chase
instinct. Jenny seemed confused, and barked once or twice to try to spook the cat. Every
time she showed any aggression, she was given a firm 'NO.' Eventually she approached
Dodger. Good thing she was muzzled - it saved her tender nose from some real damage! After
a few more altercations, we crated Jen and called it a night.
"For the next few days, we kept the animals apart unless Jen was muzzled and
supervised. Again, she got a 'NO' and/or a water squirt if she went toward the cat. There
were a couple of times she cornered him under a desk and got her muzzle smacked. When
Dodger's confidence was up, and Jen was responding to the 'no,' we removed her muzzle.
She's taken a few good whacks in the past ten days, but has given up on Dodger as
prey/playtoy. The other cat stayed under furniture when Jen was free in the house, but
last night she crept out from behind the couch to sniff a sleeping Jen's nose. Jen opened
one eye, but just sighed and went back to sleep.
"I owe a lot to Jen, but I think we were also successful because we put the animals
on an even footing from the start. Jen never got the chance to chase D, and he has no fear
of her (in fact, he's alpha pet in the house). The little cat, KayCee, is benefiting from
D's machismo. I've also made sure there are plenty of kitty escape routes under and behind
things and I've kept the water bottle handy, just in case. I've also blocked the laundry
room door with a baby gate so the cats' food, litter and snooze spot on the dryer are off
limits to cold doggy noses."
"My general rule is: Always give the cats the benefit of the doubt. In other words,
when there's the slightest, teeniest, weensiest wisp of doubt in your mind as to whether
the dog is cat safe, keep them apart when you're not there.
"My dogs have earned their privileges very gradually, over a period ranging from
about three weeks for Lotus to a couple of days for Rosie. (It should be noted that the
two I've adopted were obviously never a big problem with the cats.)
"I use the same procedure for foster dogs, too. First, they can only be in the same
room with the cats when the dog is on lead (muzzled, too, if they're extra interested or
I'm distracted). The lead stays on my wrist at all times. If they will reliably leave the
cats alone this way, we progress to leaving them in the room with the cats when I'm in the
same room, but leaving the lead attached to the collar to facilitate quick restraint if
it's needed. After that, they get off-lead privileges, but I still make sure they're not
unattended with the cats. From here we progress to run of the house, still while someone
is home and keeping an ear out.
"My approach is a little different from some since I don't care if the dogs and cats
are 'friends'. I'd rather have dog-cat apartheid in my house than take a chance on a dead
cat. (My cats aren't interested anyhow, the snobs!) That means all I have to teach the
dogs is to leave the cats alone, instead of having to train them to play or interact with
"I made a big mistake initially in not controlling the first meeting of Blue and
Byrne. Blue (Greyhound) was off-leash, though muzzled, and rushed the cat. Byrne (cat) ran
and Blue chased. From that point on he was fascinated by this creature that put in such
rare appearances. On the advice of friends, I got squirt bottles. Every time Blue would
look at Byrne with interest, (ears up, eyes fixated), he'd get a 'Blue, no kitty' and a
squirt, until he averted his head. I confess that initially I put a few drops of ammonia
in the water to make it truly aversive, since plain water had no effect. Within a week
he'd avert his head most of the time with just words. I used this consistently, even when
he was crated at night. Byrne learned that if he was crated it was safe to come around and
that helped training.
"About a month into this, I took Blue up to Ellen's and he caught her cat. That
taught me that he still was unsafe with cats that didn't avoid him. Fortunately, no one
was hurt, but I came very close to giving up and returning him at that point. Gradually
Byrne started coming out more and Blue would look at her. If he fixated, (ears up, tense,
eyes fixed) he got, 'no kitty' and was expected to avert his head. I backed this up with
the spray bottle. When he'd avert, he'd get praised and hugged. Molly Hughs at one point
suggested training him to associate the cat with something good, even to the point of
setting up situations where someone carries the cat in and then the dog gets rewarded. I
think that's a good idea and could work in a household with more than one person to
wrangle the animals.
"Anyway, things gradually got better with consistent and persistent training. Byrne
helped a lot, by learning to avoid the jangling of tags indicting that Blue was on the
move, and coming around when it was quiet. I made sure that Byrne had numerous safe, warm
hiding/escape spots so there was never any real danger of Blue cornering her. Amy Hanna
was very helpful in reminding me to consistently reward the desired behavior and not just
yell at him to get the desired result. Blue isn't really food motivated, but a hug or
short petting session is a big reward to him. On a couple of occasions early on there were
a few 'chase the kitty' sessions where Blue couldn't help himself and I wasn't in the
immediate area. I responded with your 'big, in the face-talking to' reprimand and slapped
his muzzle on him. Both of those got his attention I think and helped the process.
"To some extent, I think he had to see Byrne enough to take her somewhat for granted,
which is the point we've almost reached now. He's lost his fascination for her, and that
just takes repeated, safe exposure. Byrne's still cautious also, not relaxing her guard
around him. Most of the time he just looks at her now, no fixation. She can walk with 2
feet of him, sniff at his bowl while he's eating, etc. Some of his restraint undoubtedly
is due to my presence also, but he's learning. The big test came last week when I had him
at my cousin's house with her two cats and he didn't try to chase them. He wanted to check
them out, but he wasn't fixated. I guess, maybe he's learning. I'm not sure he's really
what I would consider truly 'cat-safe' yet, and may never be as safe as Penguin, but he
continues to improve, so there's hope. I guess I never gave up on him because there was
always progress. BTW, I use the 'no kitty' outdoors consistently also. He's much more
persistent there, but will eventually avert even with a squirrel in view.
"BTW, Blue was never cat-tested. I met him at the trainer's kennel, said I wanted him
and didn't officially adopt him through GPA. If I had gone through the channels I'm sure
he would have been listed as cat-unsafe and placed in a cat-free home.
"I was really unprepared for the intensity of an 'unsafe' dog. Penguin from day one
looked at Byrne as a potential playmate and did the play bow to her. Blue was very
different and very scary for a while there."