Why does my dog want to kill cats?

Let’s face it, as dog owners we’ve heard of instances where our dog or a friend’s dog ends up killing their cat or a neighbor’s cat. Many thoughts may go through the mind of the dog owner, such as, “Why did my dog do that? What exactly happened? Turns out, it’s normal predatory action for dogs to attack cats invading their personal territory.

Dog owners are often surprised by the fact that their dog succeeded in killing an animal, particularly when that animal was a beloved pet. Often dog owners are so overwhelmed by the whole process, they believe they own a beast and even contemplate giving up their dog or even putting it down in certain extreme cases.

🐶 You need to understand

It is necessary to understand the actions and get a better view of what actually happened before taking drastic action and calling the dog bad. We’re going to take a closer look at some possible triggers and ideas on how to treat the situation to avoid this happening again. Understanding what may have happened requires distancing yourself and seeing beyond the emotions from the horrific event. In a household where dogs used to get along well with cats, one has to wonder whether there have been any recent changes that may have induced tension. It is likely that anxious dogs behave out of character. It could be that one dog may have medical problems that have lowered his aggressive threshold. For instances like this, visit a veterinarian and have your pet checked.

🐶 Chase drive

If your dog started chasing after a fleeing cat and ended up fatally hurting the cat, you must bear in mind that this may be very natural behaviour.


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The instinct to chase and kill escaping animals has its roots grounded in the genetic history of the dog. To fully understand predatory behavior in dogs all we need to do is go back in ancient times when the ancestors of the dog did not rely on humans for food, as dogs do today. Let’s take a quick look at the dynamics of this behavior.

Before dogs were domesticated and fed kibble, their ancestors were hunters living off the land. They were gifted with the ability to track animals for food, chase them and kill them. All dogs carry some level of predatory drive. It is because of this, that your dog is eager to chase a ball or shake a toy. Hunting and killing was a huge part of their survival.

🐶 Predatory aggression.

Typically predatory aggression is assumed when an otherwise friendly backyard dog attacks cats that enter their yards. This form of attack falls entirely within the usual predator-prey relationship sense. Sad as this may be for the human family of the animal, this sort of action is considered natural and common.

These dogs see cats as prey, that kind of behavior is called predatory aggression. Hunting cats, for them, is no different from hunting rats, opossums or squirrels. These dogs do not share our human concept of cats as being fundamentally different from the wildlife in the backyard. Understandably, grieving people may use words such as “vicious” and “dangerous” to describe your dog, but in this case, it sounds unlikely to be true “Predatory” sounds more apt. In this situation, asking the veterinarian to evaluate the dog’s disposition sounds like a brilliant idea.

🐶 Common questions about dog’s predatory behavior

How do I stop my dog from killing cats?

Dogs with a high chase drive need a safe place to be contained when you’re not at home to prevent them from escaping and harming another animal or person. You can also do training exercises, these are an excellent way to tame the prey-drive in a dog.
There are several exercises you can do with your dog at home, the most important being to establish control over your dog when they’re off leash.

What happens if your dog kills a cat on your property?

You can be held accountable, but not criminally, just civilly. If your dog is classified as unusually dangerous, and something called “strict liability” applies, you can be held civilly liable.

Why does my dog hate cats?

Cats and dogs have an inherent dislike of each other, which means that they will fight instinctively until they draw blood or one withdraws between their legs. But, since both animals are carnivorous, their mutual hatred must go deeper than a simple predatory instinct.

Conclusion

A dog killing a beloved cat is the worst nightmare that has come true for a pet owner. As much as one has been attached to the cat, it is not helpful to blame a dog for acting out of instinct. Instinct is a hardwired behavior that can be managed and changed a few times but never completely removed. A few tips to help manage that behavior includes environment management, training, confining the animal, and by seeking help.

Why does my dog want to kill cats?