Siberian Huskies and Kitty Cats
If you've done any reading on Siberian huskies, you know they are killing machines, I mean look at this dog.
The face of a highly capable killer
While I'm making a bit of a joke, the issue at hand is a serious one and I'm willing to throw my experience in the ring. There are some unfortunate stories out there about huskies mauling and killing small animals, whether it's dogs, kitties, rabbits, etc. The experts suggest this is because huskies have a high prey drive. They believe this to be a significant part of the husky nature and because they believe this, they suggest it is not something that can be corrected by training.
So is there any truth to it? Let's dive in and take a look.
First things first, let's just look at the broader picture. The first thing you are taught when encountering any kind of animal from domestic to wild is don't run. Running activates the prey drive in ALL animals. I'm just gonna keep it real here, but I have seen that same behavior in humans as well. Have you never heard a news story of somebody trying to flee from a crazy person and getting chased? So, maybe it's a little unfair to narrow it down to a specific breed when that kind of behavior pops up in everything. I'm not going to lie, some of my favorite videos are of geese chasing people.
Our household is comprised of two female huskies, Ely (E-lee) and Lola, and a pack of cats. My cats were not introduced to two harmless little puppies. Rather, two giant goofy doggo's who had no prior kitty experience when they were introduced to kitty cats. This is important to note because it shows that my adult dogs were not accustomed to or acclimated to cats. A small kitty vs two huskies doesn't have a chance, so how did I build a home of harmony between two blood-thirsty huskies and their potential prey?
I'll be honest and say that I'm not even sure I realized when I brought my first kitty home that huskies might desire to kill them. My lack of knowledge, however, didn't bite me in the butt, because I was so very cautious. Let me be frank, I wasn't cautious because I thought my dogs would kill my cats. I was cautious because I didn't want my cats to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I wanted a peaceful home for all.
I'm gonna share with you some of the things I personally did, but please know this is not a step-by-step detailed, fail-proof process. Just like people, animals have different personalities and you need to be the best judge of that. My general thought process in training my dogs for anything was to not set them up for failure. Meaning, if you don't want your dog to get into the trash, don't leave bags of trash sitting in a location where they can easily access it. I consider this helping your dog be the good pupper it knows to be.
When I brought a new cat into our home, the newest edition was kept in a separate room with the door shut. This allows your new kitty to become accustomed to the new sights and smells of your home without feeling overwhelmed and threatened. All first interactions were made via sniffing under the door, where and when the kitty could, at their own pace, introduce themselves and then retreat. This process was also applied to my cat's meeting a new kitty.
A helpful tool for prolonged introduction is a blanket or towel with each pet's scent. Sharing them with one another is a good way to build familiarity. First impressions are everything, so you want those first few exchanges to go smoothly and I feel strongly that limiting the interaction is the best way to keep both parties curious rather than traumatized.
The Meet and Greet
In our house, we did this over a couple of weeks. One dog or one cat would be brought into the room to meet the new edition, one at a time. The dogs were always on a leash and held up right where they were standing on their hind legs. I then brought the kitty to sniff level. This prevented the dogs from jumping up and distressing the cat. We also used our hands and a blanket to cup around the cat to ensure only sniffs could take place. These exchanges were very brief and were highly controlled.
I also had trio time, where I would spend time alone with the one dog and the new edition. Animal jealousy is a real thing and this was my attempt at disarming it. I would love equally on both my dog and the new kitty at the same time. It was my hope this would convey to my girls that the itty bitty kitty is important to the Momma Hooman. As pack leader, I wanted my pack to know I have given my seal of approval over this new creature and all should welcome it.
I believe it is completely possible to have these two parties live in perfect loving harmony together. Being patient and taking the time to ensure everyone's safety is the best way. My dogs and oldest cat have now been together for six years, we've never once had an issue. Three of my cats were adult strays, and my dogs completely received them and grew their own individual relationships with them long before they became permanent additions to our household. In fact, each cat has a choice of dog they like to cuddle and snuggle with. We're just one giant pack.
The only murderous beasts in this house are cats, and the top two killers are featured below.
My cats have unfortunately killed many things. I have also rescued several small creatures from their grasp. The usual response I get in these situations is "that's what cats do, they are predators." While I believe that to be true, dogs don't usually get the same courtesy when such things occur. I have, unfortunately, in my lifetime had kitties succumb to violent dog attacks (from loose dogs). It is absolutely traumatic and horrifying, so I feel awful for any owner who has ever encountered that with any animal. I've known friends whose pets were killed by wild animals, it doesn't make it any less painful.
I believe strongly in taking every safety precaution that you can to ensure everyone's safety.
An additional tip, keep the cat and dog food separate. Create a safe space for your cats to eat. My dogs eat food out of their bowls on the ground, and my cats eat in a separate room on a counter. While this may not be necessary, I do it because the dogs are sneaky and will eat the cat's food. However, I believe it helps create a natural boundary. As to prevent yummy cat treats from being confused with cat siblings. This also prevents territorial spats.
Stay Pawsome friends.