Cats and Dogs
Greyhounds have been bred for thousands of years to chase small furry things. This doesn’t mean that they can’t live with cats but that you will have to implement a lot of training and control and management in the early days to keep everyone safe and stress free. Some greyhounds are really hard wired to chase and would struggle to live with a cat, but many others are more mellow and with some work can be around cats. Whether you are introducing a new cat to your resident dog or vice versa, you will need to provide a safe area for the cat that your dog will not be able to access. If you are taking on a new cat, a spare room is ideal as they will need time to adjust to their new surroundings. If you are bringing in a new dog, choose an area that you know your existing cat will feel safe, upstairs with a baby gate is good or putting a cat flap in an internal door. Move all essentials to this area – a bed, food and water and a litter tray (even if your cat normally toilets outside).
Plugging in a Feliway diffuser a few days before you bring your new pet home is a good idea, especially if the cat has not lived with dogs before or is of a nervous disposition. A Feliway diffuser emits pheromones that help cats relax.
Kittens are far more at risk of being injured by a dog due their size and as they are usually more playful and active so more likely to excite a dog. If you are introducing a kitten to a dog, a stair gate won’t be practical as they will easily be able to slip through the bars, so for safety reasons the initial introduction is best carried out by placing the kitten in a dog crate. The dog crate should be large enough for a litter tray, a scratching post, bed and places to hide. Allow the kitten to get used to being in the crate prior to meeting the dog, by placing the crate in the area you have chosen away from the dog, so they get used to going in and out. Pop a blanket over one side which will help the kitten feel safe.
For both cats and dogs, scent is extremely important and so getting used to the scent of the new addition helps. Use small blankets on their beds and swap between dog and cat every day so they get used to the scent of each other.
In the early days it is best to keep them separate at first. When you start introductions its best to ensure that the cat has an easy route back to their ‘safe area’. If your dog gets excited easily, then first introductions are best carried out after exercise, when your dog is likely to be calm.
One of the most important rules of introducing cats and dogs is to make sure that the dog is not allowed to chase the cat. Even if your dog does not want to hurt your cat, your cat will feel scared and your dog will be practising the behaviour we don’t want and may learn to enjoy the chase.Once a dog develops a habit of chasing, it can be difficult for to stop them, so it is best to prevent it from happening in the first place.
For first intro have a barrier between them, give your cat some meat/tuna/squeezy cheese or yoghurt on a likimat or spread across the back of a plate. This gives them something to do and settle down with, so they aren’t moving too much during initial intros. Have treats ready for your dog and keep them on lead. The second your dog sees the cat mark by saying ‘good’ and drop a few treats on the floor. In the dog isn’t interested in the treats then their arousal level is too high and move further away from the cat and try again.
If your dog does take the treats then when their head comes up, let them look at the cat for the count of three and then ’good’ and scatter treats again. Build up the time between treats and rewarding the calm behaviour. If your dog is super keen on the cat then allow shorter looks at the cat then interrupt and move away to treat, to bring the energy back down again.
Keep these initial interactions short at first and try to end on a positive note. If you keep doing these controlled, short meet ups often then you should see an increase in the cats confidence and a reduction in the dog’s excitement as they become more familiar with each other.
As things progress in the right direction, you can allow the cat and dog to interact more freely, but keep your dog on a ‘houseline’ (a lightweight lead) to prevent any chasing. The houseline can be left to trail behind your dog, allowing you to take control should you need to (e.g. if you think your dog may be getting too excitable, you can step on the line or pick it up. If all goes well and both pets are comfortable with each other, you can progress to removing the houseline, but make sure you are there to manage the situation carefully and ensure there are high places that your cat can use to feel safe. Never leave the dog and cat together unattended until you are happy that they are safe together.