Prey Drive, Cats, Small Dogs & Critters

One of the most frequently asked questions at Greyhound Adoption Service (GAS) is if our greyhounds get along with cats, small dogs and other petsIn former years, GAS supported a colony of feral cats that lived on the property.  Changes in the area have resulted in the gradual disappearance of the colonyThere are no longer any feral cats in the area.  As a result, GAS looks to other methods to determine the level of prey drive of our dogs.  Some racing kennels who send dogs to GAS cat-test their dogs.  From a teaching program at  Becker College, we receive several dogs at the end of each semester who they have cat-tested.  With all of our dogs, during their photo shoots for the website, their reactions to the local squirrels, birds, and neighborhood pets are monitored.  The way the dog behaves indicates their level of prey drive.  A dog with a high prey drive will crouch down into a stalking position and focus single-mindedly on a squirrel or stare up a tree at a bird.  At this stage, an attempt is made to draw the dog's attention away from the animal.  A high prey drive dog will not be thwarted from his focus on the animal.  Often it takes some effort to pull the dog back toward the kennel.  This determination and focus on the animal is a sure sign that this dog cannot live with cats, small dogs or small critters of any kind.  This means any small animal that squeaks and moves rapidly, even if that animal is caged and not running freely around your house.  This applies to guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, etc.  It is easy for a dog to knock over and break open a cage.  If you have these types of animals in your house, to be completely safe you need to make sure your dog does not have access to them in any way. 

A dog who can live with cats or small dogs behaves quite differently than a dog with high prey drive.  Upon seeing the smaller animal, the dog may wag its tail, ignore it, approach cautiously and sniff, bow into a play posture, or show some interest but is easily coaxed away. 

Some greyhounds are even fearful of cats, and pull away from the direction of the felines.   

High prey drive

Feline friendly

Afraid of cats

Greyhound Adoption Service does the best possible job of assessing the level of prey drive of our dogs.  But... there are no guarantees!  Proceed with caution.  All adopters with cats and small dogs are advised to follow special procedures when introducing them to their greyhounds, and to do so with the greyhound wearing a muzzle.  We are happy to loan you a muzzle, which can be returned when the introduction period is over.  Greyhound-cat introductions are especially tricky, and 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.

Our goal is to place our dogs into their forever homes. That means not only getting along with the humans.  When you come to the kennel, make sure you discuss your other pets during your visit so that GAS can provide you with the best possible guidance to make the adoption successful for all.   

by Deborah Schildkraut