One of the most frequently asked questions at Greyhound Adoption Service (GAS) is how our greyhounds are cat-tested.  Greyhound adoption agencies use various methods.  GAS has live, feral cats living on the property.  The cats live beyond the immediate kennel area where food and water are provided, and the cats come and go as they please.  The cats do not belong to GAS.  But GAS does round them up on an annual basis for shots and neutering.  It is a most curious symbiotic relationship.  The cats are well aware of the near proximity of the kennel.  The cats are free to leave but there are usually 6 to 12 cats in residence at all times.

Initial meeting

For cat-testing, the dogs are restrained, and the cats at liberty.  The dogs are walked one at a time, outside the kennel toward the area where the cats congregate.  The cats can choose to come to see the dogs or stay away.  On sunny days we find the cats most willing to visit with the greyhounds.  Restrained on a lead, the dog is led toward the cat area.  Taking small steps and stopping, the dog is given the opportunity to notice the cats.  The way the dog behaves determines if the testing goes any further.

High prey drive

A dog with a high prey drive will crouch down into a stalking position and focus single-mindedly on the cat.  At this stage, an attempt will be made to draw the dog's attention away from the cat.  A high prey drive dog will not be thwarted from his focus on the cat.  Often it is necessary to either scoot the cat away or to pull the dog back toward the kennel.  This determination and focus on the cat is a sure sign that this dog cannot live with cats, or small critters of any kind.

Feline friendly

A dog who can live with cats behaves quite differently.  The dog upon seeing the cat may wag its tail, ignore the cat, approach cautiously and sniff, bow into a play posture, or show some interest but is easily coaxed away.  Murphy, a long haired black tom, is a veteran of cat testing.  He will approach certain dogs from whom he detects no malice.
Nose to nose with Murphy

The Murphy Seal of Approval!

Afraid of cats

Some greyhounds are even fearful of cats, and pull away from the direction of the felines.  In either case, no harm comes to the cats or the dogs.

Occasionally the testing is not clear-cut.  That is why all dogs are given repeated tests.  At Greyhound Adoption Service, anyone interested in adopting a cat safe greyhound, will be allowed to view their potential dog in a repeat cat test.
Two of the test crew

Greyhound Adoption Service does the best possible job of designating cat-safe dogs.  Our method is a good one, but is not fool-proof.  There are no quarantees.  A word of caution.  All adopters with cats are advised to follow special procedures when introducing their greyhound to a cat, and to do so with the dog wearing a muzzle.  We are happy to loan you a muzzle, which can be returned when the introduction period is over.  Greyhound - cat introductions should be done gradually and with great care.  Marilyn will discuss this procedure with you before you take your greyhound home.   Failure to follow these special guidelines can result in tragic consequences for your cat.   If done right, not only is it possible for greyhounds to share a home with cats, many greyhounds and cats have become fast friends.

by Deborah Schildkraut

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