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Attacked a Cat - Was He Really Trying to Kill It!?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Zack

Move or I'll- plough you down!- (lovingly)
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 2:45am PST 
So I have a staffy called Zack. A few days ago I took him to my mums for a regular visit and let him into thier back garden to do his thing, but what I didn't know was that there was a cat sitting on the porch directly in front of the door. Of course, when I opened it the cat bolted and Zack chased it down and got hold of it. This was followed by lots of yelling and me diving on him trying to pull him off it. He had his jaws on the cat on three seperate bites, but none of them seemed to hold very well even though at two of those bites his jaws were around the cats middle and it looked like a pretty good hold. The cat got away, and I took Zack indoors.

(For the cat lovers out there - it was ok. I knew the owner, went and told her what had happened and told her I'd pay the vet bills, got a call half an hour later saying Smudge was back and he was ok apart from blood on the back of his neck. As far as I know he has not been to the vets, and this was a few days ago so I cant imagine the damage was bad at all.)

My question is this - was he really trying to kill it, since his bites did so little damage and he seemingly wasn't using his full jaw power? The thing with Zack is that he APPARENTLY lived with five cats at his previous home. This, coupled with the fact that on his walks if he sees a cat he cries, but if the cat BOLTS he cries a hell of a lot more and gets worked up. Could this just have been because the cat bolted?

The other reason why I'm asking is because Zack was attacked by a terrier, and when he managed to turn the tables and fight back the other dogs owner had to punch Zack in the face several times to make him let go - THAT was how strong his hold was. For the cat to have been able to keep getting free seems a little strange, especially since Zack had his jaws around it more than once and it's not like the cat injured Zack to make him let go - there wasn't even a scratch on him.

I dont know.. *sigh* Most of me sort of knows that, if I had not been there and the cat had not gotten away, he would have killed it. He was BITING it for Heavens sake. But a little part of me thinks that it was all just some prey-drive-excitement-territorial thing and that it isn't true frown I just don't want my dog to be a cat killer. I suppose that's most owners wishes, though, haha.

The entire thing was over in about 30 seconds. The scary thing is, there was no sound. NEITHER animal made any noise o_O' If I hadn't seen the cat I wouldn't have known it was happening, and the only reason my sister came crashing down stairs is because she heard my shouts. Creepy.
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Fritz

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 3:44am PST 
I'm a cat killer. If I can get a hold of a cat I will shake him hard. It does sound like you might not be safe with cats either.

I don't know why you didn't hold as hard as you could, but the staring and wining is something I do too. My person just understands that I have high prey drive and tries to protect any wondering cats, but honestly if a cat wonders into my yard and gets hurt, my person considers it the cat owners fault and doesn't offer to pay vet bills etc.

Of course, if I were in a public area or for some reason on the cats territory, she would take care of any mayhem I caused.
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 5:53am PST 
You are looking at two different motivations here. When the cat ran it turned on the dog's prey drive. Dogs that are not proficient hunters (not a lot of experience) will make an almost tentative grab and sometimes throw the prey. They are concerned about what the prey animal may do to them. A more experienced hunter goes right in for the back of the neck for the kill bite. They do the neck grab, shake to kill the animal, but don't necessarily lock on unless someone tries to take their kill. But even the tentative dog is still going for the kill if they can.

And if the cat turns to fight, that may kick in the dog's fight drive which is when the dog starts to apply the jaw pressure. When the other dog attacked you dog, your dog turned to fight and demonstrated the behaviors bred into Staffies.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 6:47am PST 
Every dog that I have ever seen that intends to kill will shake the animal in some fashion once they have a hold of it.

Kato does this, with the exception of one animal...birds! He rarely intends to kill them if he catches them. He loves chasing them though. And when he does catch one, sometimes the thrill of the chase causes him to bite down a bit too hard causing the bird to bleed.

So, if your dog had the cat in his mouth and didn't have a hard enough grip to where the cat could get out, I'd say he wasn't TRYING to kill it. However, intentions aside, they most certainly could kill whatever they grasp by biting a bit too hard in the wrong place.
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 7:59am PST 
Sanka, I disagree. I have seen many dogs do a quick grab then fling in an attempt to stun the animal, especially if the dog is concerned about the prey animals defensive abilities. They still wind up killing the animal. I also know dogs who are accomplished killers who go straight to the death bite.
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 8:28am PST 
Don't know about cats... but I've watched Charks' behavior with moles. Initially, she was tentative and would flip them into the air. It might have been to stun... but her initial flips were a bit vigorous. She has learned over time. A couple years of mole hunting and she is very efficient.

With the cat... your dog's first encounter reflected inexperience. Whether the hunt was fun enough to want to work on perfecting killing skills... I can't say. But, _I_ would figure that cats are not safe and given some practice, he'll potentially perfect his skills.

Charka is fascinated by cats. Her intend is unclear. If she sees a cat on our walks, she goes to high alert... but is trained to... not exactly ignore... but, to continue walking anyway. Cat in our yard? Good luck cat! All that said, when we sit our son's cat, Charka and cat do very well together. The darn cat (a small cat) actually offers play with the big dog... and, in an inside setting, it's all very gentle on both sides... OK, Charks has been smacked in the nose for excessive butt sniffing.

ETA Moles do make a sound when under attack thinking

Edited by author Tue Dec 4, '12 8:28am PST

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Opheila

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 11:15am PST 
Sophie too is a Staffy and lives with our seven house cats. If one of them gets into her food bowl while she's eating she will soundlessly give up the dish and maybe seek out a human to shoo the cat away. Mr. Foot our biggest male has cornered her repeatedly trying to hump her...even though she betters him by 50lbs or so...the cats will swing at her butt from the counters as she walks by.

BUT...Over the past few years there were two neighborhood cats that Sophie saw while walking on leash. One was hiding under a parked car so I didn't see him. The second was trying to stand his ground on the sidewalk and I didn't get her away fast enough. Both times she grabbed the cat in the middle region and shook it...until it stopped screaming. It's one of the most horrible things I have ever witnessed and you feel helpless. I tried prying open her mouth, shaking her by the scruff shouting Drop It!, anything I could think of and she would not let go. Get chills just remembering...

Now when we walk we keep a distance from anywhere that outside cats might be lurking. No parked cars, no bushes in front of houses, no driveways and I keep her on short leash by houses where cats live. Perhaps you were just lucky with this incident and now you know to be careful. You don't want to have to watch a cat die in front of you because you were too trusting.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 12:23pm PST 
Selli, I did say regardless of initial attempt, dogs can still kill the animal.shrug
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Trigger

*Blackdog*
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 1:15pm PST 
"Was He Really Trying To Kill It?"

Does the answer to that question really matter?

I disagree that if a dog wants to kill something it absolutely will. I don't care how strong a dog is, or determined, or if it's inherent drive in the dogs breed that would compel it to do such a thing. Sometimes individuals are just poor at executing a kill regardless of any of those factors.

The *only* thing that matters here was the intent. And the intent was definitely not to be friendly or kind. It was definitely to pursue, it was definitely to put mouth to body. That is plenty enough to kill any small animal, even by accident.


I don't think it's a big deal, just so long as moving forward one manages a dog with such a propensity appropriately.
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 4:43pm PST 
From Sanka:

"Every dog that I have ever seen that intends to kill will shake the animal in some fashion once they have a hold of it."

"So, if your dog had the cat in his mouth and didn't have a hard enough grip to where the cat could get out, I'd say he wasn't TRYING to kill it. However, intentions aside, they most certainly could kill whatever they grasp by biting a bit too hard in the wrong place."

"Selli, I did say regardless of initial attempt, dogs can still kill the animal

I think at this point, our discussion is not material to the original post, but what I am talking about is a dog whose intent is to kill, but will grab and fling it first. It is usually done by dogs with less experience killing. One example, my dogs who have killed (with intent) a number of rodents still do the bite and fling, but my God-Dog Brady (a Samoyed mix) is the best rodent, raccoon and goose killer I know. Brady goes straight in for the kill with one bite to the neck and has never been injured by any critter he has taken out. Some is instinct, some of it is practice.

From Trigger:

"I disagree that if a dog wants to kill something it absolutely will. I don't care how strong a dog is, or determined, or if it's inherent drive in the dogs breed that would compel it to do such a thing. Sometimes individuals are just poor at executing a kill regardless of any of those factors."

I agree and it does also depend on the defenses of the animal the dog wants to kill.
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