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Cats and Husky, big problem!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello, everyone. My mother recently adopted a 2-year old Siberian Husky that we named Chloe. She is adorable and very mild mannered, and we all love having her around.

Except for my two cats, Neptune and Cosmo. They are both terrified of Chloe and it's really starting to upset me. Neptune is an outdoor cat and Cosmo goes outside too, but rarely.

Since we got Chloe about two months ago, Neptune almost never comes home. There is an opening in one of our basement windows that he sneaks into to eat and use the litter box, but I never see him anymore. Neptune and I were very close and it really hurts to see him once or twice a week, and he probably feels like I've abandoned him.

Cosmo spends a lot more time outside, but isn't comfortable enough to basically live out there like Neptune. He avoids the dog at all costs and spends all of his time in the basement or on the top bunk of my brothers bed.

Whenever Chloe encounters one of the cats, the cat gets very afraid and starts hissing, and Chloe gets very excited as a result. She usually chases them until they got out of her reach.

I don't know what to do. I thought about forcing them to be together but I'm reall worried that Chloe might attack one of them. One day she broke her leashe and chased down a squirrel and then killed it and brought it home. I would be horrified if this happened to one of my cats. At the same time, at this rate something terrible is bound to happen to Neptune because I don't take care of him.

What do I do? My mom made it clear that if it comes down to it, we'll keep the dog over the cats. Can I make them live together in peace?
post #2 of 7
This sounds like a no win situation. I suppose the dog cannot be crated when in the house? IMO Huskys like to be more outside then inside and they tend to be closer to "wild" then most domestic dogs. Kinda a mind of their own.

If the dog has already chased and killed squirrels, IMO he'd do the same to the cats - I couldn't trust the dog. Did the place where the dog was rescued from say the dog would get along with cats?

Most times (e.g. Petfinders) they would indicate if the dog was cat, kid, other dog friendly or not.
post #3 of 7
Huskies tend to have a very high prey drive so the dog is only doing what comes naturally. Please do not try to force them to be together, this is something that takes time. Many cats never get accustomed to dogs or visa versa and the best situation is if they can co-exist. The cats need an escape route from the husky and a "safe" place. I wish you the best of luck.
post #4 of 7
My Husky mix will happily kill rabbits and birds and things outside... but she doesn't touch the cats (actually is good buddies with Chase!) and is the only dog in the house I trust with my rodents. Funny, huh? While some may never be trustworthy around them, a lot of it is in how they are raised, and the training they receive. Can you afford to consult with a trainer about properly introducing the dog and the cats? You do have to be careful with a dog with such a high prey-drive that hasn't been raised to view the cats as part of the pack, so to speak..
post #5 of 7
A husky should be with the family unless you have multiple dogs. That means inside but with plenty of outdoor excercise. Inside you should be able to train the dog not to bother cats. Even some of the high prey driven breeds come to understand that cats inside are pets and family members not toys so long as you never allow them to chase the cat. Always keep an eye on them and when you can't watch them put the dog or cats in a room or crate away from each other. Whenever I'm not around if I don't lock my akita in the bedroom I put the cats in the bathroom or the basement. When they are allowed access to each other make sure the dog is close enough to grab a collar or is on a leash and immediately stop any attempts to chase with a "No" or "Leave kitty" and make the dog sit or lay back down. Praise if the dog stays where it is or returns quickly to sitting and laying down while the cat is still around. Despite wanting to chase everything and having killed several rabbits, a groundhog, and nearly a squirrel or 2 (they still make it up the trees before she gets them) my akita has never harmed a cat. She has even started sleeping with the new kitten and is learning to play gently with it.

Dogs like this when outside should always be leashed or properly confined so they cannot chase and kill small animals like cats. Even if you don't care about the small animal the dog is likely to follow it right across a road without ever noticing the car or you yelling to stop. You can build a cat fence onto an existing fence to keep cats out of it but huskies frequently escape from yards (they will dig under fences even on hard ground, jump over 6' high fences, push through gaps 1/4th their size, etc...) so actually many people use a heavy duty tie out to stake the dogs on a long rope instead. You should never leave a dog staked or in a yard outside without supervision for extended periods of time and I would never force them to stay outside for more than a couple hours if they didn't prefer it. Whenever my dog is in the yard I always leave the door slightly open so she can push it and come back inside whenever she's ready. They are pack animals that should be with humans if they are not with other dogs. There is also far too much trouble they can get into. Huskies will not do well when left outside or inside without someone to exercise them. They will be destructive and escape frequently. Similar to my akita who would likely find a way to be gone from the yard in under 2hours if I forced her to stay outside despite all my reinforcements to the fence.

I hope you know they need tons of excercise because many people are not prepared for it. 15-20min walks won't even put a dent in a husky's energy level and boredom. They need more like several hours of hiking or playing every day. If you can get them to retrieve a ball great but they often find balls to be boring after a few throws. Many people train them to pull scooters, people on rollerblades, or mountain bikes to give them enough excercise. Take a look at www.urbanmushing.com for example. It would also benefit both your dog's manners and how well they get along inside the house along with using up some energy to enroll in an obedience class. They can make good agility dogs too since they are quite athletic and can jump high obstacles easily but you have to be willing to put in extra work getting them to pay attention especially if you try agility off lead. Without alot of work they don't do anything well without a leash or rope on them.


As for the cats you just have to keep the dog under control so it isn't a threat and wait for them to figure out that it's not going to harm them. For cats used to dogs this can still take months with a new dog and it wasn't until last week that Carmel would walk up to my akita outdoors even though I've had her since April and she's never once been allowed to chase a cat. For cats not used to dogs it could even be a year before they completely accept that the dog is not harmful especially if you have a puppy that will occasionally try to play with the cats. Bringing the cats indoors and making them stay there during a time you can seriously watch the dog and make sure it doesn't do anything to upset them will help. They will see the dog is not such a threat. Occasionally a few cats never get used to dogs. I had one that after hiding in a hole in the basement until she developed various health issues I put her on the screened in porch and then let her wander outside. She lived outside all summer because she was too scared of the dog to set foot in the house without being carried before a neighbor decided last month to try keeping the cat in her house instead.
post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by spachoman View Post
Whenever Chloe encounters one of the cats, the cat gets very afraid and starts hissing, and Chloe gets very excited as a result. She usually chases them until they got out of her reach.

I don't know what to do. I thought about forcing them to be together but I'm reall worried that Chloe might attack one of them. One day she broke her leashe and chased down a squirrel and then killed it and brought it home.?
Control the dog; you can't control the cats as easily. Don't give up so soon. One of my dogs took MONTHS to be good, and it is SO nice now that everyone can be together, but I still don't leave them out together when an adult is not home to supervise. I had a hard dog (the others are fine with cats) and this is what I did with that one.

Basically, leash the problem dog, double leash if you are having trouble with your leashes (you said one broke), teach the dog manners. It helps to have an obedience background and a bond with the dog. If you haven't already done so, enroll in an obedience course. Learn to train your dog and have them listen. Make sure the dog has plenty of socialization and exercise daily to work the mind and body.

Also, don't let the dog "fixate" on the cats, you know what I mean that stare that proceeds behavior we don't want, catch the behavior before it starts, redirect that behavior, don't let the dog chase the cats ever ever, don't let the dog initiate contact either. Reward them for the good behavior, which is ignoring kitty. Use treats, attention, whatever you need to in order to let the dog know what is right and wrong behavior around the cats. Make dog free zones in your home. Let the kitties know these zones. Put up baby gates or whatever you need to to let the cats know this is their very own place they are safe there and can get peace from the dog if needed.

If you can't control the dog then get outside help. Contact a dog behaviorist. Don't give up on this dog just yet.

My dogs have high prey drive and will chase kitties when they are outside and at other people's homes but never "their" kitty. They are smart enough to know the difference between other furry small prey drivey animals and "their" kitty who is part of our pack.
post #7 of 7
I have little to ad except that with time and patience, it can be done; I will second that training the dog should be the prime strategy.

As sled dogs, huskeys have more need for exercise than most breeds; as working breeds, they need something to do. Give Chloe a way to work out her energy and she is less likely to want to bother the cats. Whenever she seems interested in the cats, do something to distract her.

Designate a part of the house as a 'no dog zone' so the cats have a retreat.
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