Dogs and Cats – Keeping Everyone Safe

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Siberian huskies have a strong prey drive and generally do not interact well with cats or other small animals, including small dogs.  We have always known this however we have always owned huskies and our huskies and our cats have always coexisted.  So when we adopted Alusia Sue our current husky in 2010 we were well aware of the prey drive.

When we brought Alusia home from the rescue she immediately latched hold of one of our cats and we were able to intervene with no damage.  A few days later she repeated the behavior.  I worked with her on modification of the behavior.  She continued to kill birds in the yard but would not even look at the cats. However, I always warn my clients that they can never trust training to override a prey drive. So in 2013 Alusia nearly killed our Tonkinese cat when we mistakenly closed her in our bedroom with the cat.  Again, I worked on modification and we were careful.

This brings us to 2015.  We had been on vacation the previous two weeks and came home and a few days later I let Alusia into the bedroom and one of our cats was lounging under the bed.  In seconds she grabbed hold of him and began the death shake.  I was able to make her drop him and remove her from the room.  Unfortunately, the cat (Taz pictured above) suffered nerve damage to his hind leg from the attack.  He is currently undergoing acupuncture treatment and his prognosis is very guarded.

Alusia will no longer have any contact with our cats. If she is inside no cats will be in the same room with her and the door will be closed.  We knew what we were getting into when we adopted a husky and she has a home with us for as long as she lives.  It will take lots of work, be stressful and we have to constantly be aware but this was the commitment we made. Following the attack on our cat I was asked by a family member whether or not I would consider her dangerous to children or humans.  In her case my response was no.  Alusia loves people and in fact is quite tolerant of our kids. High prey drive does not equal human aggression. However, I always evaluate that for my clients when children are involved on a case by case basis.

Just remember that if your dog has a high prey drive and you have small critters such as rabbits, cats, small dogs etc. you must always be vigilant.  I am a canine behaviorist not a magician and unfortunately that means that I can modify the behavior but I can never guarantee that instinct won’t override the training and tragedy is very likely to occur if it does.