Greyhounds and cats

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2013-04-01 23.19.40Due to their instinct to chase and training for the racetrack, many people are surprised to learn that greyhounds can live with cats and other small creatures, if they have an appropriate introduction and training. HUG has recently noticed an increase in requests for greyhounds that can be adopted into homes with cats, mainly in Ireland, which is a great sign both for the perceived value of greyhounds and cats as pets. However, it is very hard to assess the suitability of each dog to live in a cat resident household in the normal method of “cat testing” undertaken by most rescue groups. Cat testing usually involves walking a muzzled, leashed greyhound past a cat or into a room with a cat and observing the greyhound’s reaction to the cat. If the greyhound ignores the cat, or appears afraid, they are generally considered to be a possibility, but if it lunges towards the cat, licks it’s lips, growls or shows too much interest, we would generally classify them as having too much prey drive to live with cats. 1457555_10152003726450126_1068057571_nThere are many factors that can skew these results however, as it is a very brief introduction for a dog that like likely undergone a lot of changes in a short time, coming out of the racing kennel environment into a completely new world which can be very intimidating and cause behavioural changes. For this reason, many people feel this is not a reliable method to properly assess the ability of a greyhound to live peacefully with cats, where a carefully observed and controlled introduction to a cat, and a programme of reward based training can lead to a much more successful result for a majority of greyhounds.

1236385_10151846701575126_1626456661_nHUG currently has a foster home with a very special cat named Sweet Pea who helps run “Kitty Bootcamp for Greyhounds” to test HUG hounds and help train them to live safely and happily with cats. Pea has grown up around greyhounds and is confident enough to be in their presence to aid in the process of training, with all dogs muzzled, leashed and carefully supervised until it is determined they do not pose a threat to the cat. Most dogs will remain in the foster home with ongoing training and observation for between one to four weeks, depending on their personality and homing requirements.

  1470144_10152007165610126_1648968756_nA few important points about cats and greyhounds:
  • A cat inside is different than a cat outdoors, always ensure outdoor cats are not in the garden before allowing your greyhound lose outside, as the desire to chase in an open area can overcome training and normal responses.
  • Greyhounds need to learn that the cat is part of their family and should be respected, so even if a dog has passed cat testing, caution and muzzles should still be used until it is clear they understand the rules in their new home.
  • It is recommended to avoid leaving your cat and greyhound home alone in the same area without supervision, especially shortly after adoption.
  • Not all greyhounds and cats will bond to the point of curling up for a nap together, but that is okay as long as they learn to respect each others boundaries and personal space.

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If you have a cat or cats and wish to adopt a greyhound, please fill in our online application form or email info@homesforunwantedgreyhounds.ie for more information. We try to find a hound that is not only cat trainable but also fits with the dynamic of your household and family members, so it may take a little bit longer to match you with an appropriate dog.