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Why Do Dogs Chase Cats? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cute dog chasing black kitten

Why Do Dogs Chase Cats? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

If you’re both a dog and a cat owner, odds are you’ve wondered why your canine can’t stop chasing your feline. This can be inappropriate behavior and can cause your kitty stress. Most people have heard the saying, “fighting like cats and dogs,” which is certainly not a literal scenario you want in the home. But there is hope. Despite the frustration, cats and dogs can live in harmony, we swear!

To further examine this behavior, let’s take a deeper look at the reasons why dogs chase cats and how to stop it.

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The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Cats

1. Instinct

Dogs are natural hunters, and their instincts play a huge role in this behavior. Dogs have the innate desire to chase things that move, and your kitty is no exception. When your cat or kitten scurries across the room, your dog’s prey instincts will almost certainly kick in, and the chase is on.

british shorthair cat and dog in the grass
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

2. Play

Not all chases are carried out with sinister intentions. Some dogs, particularly puppies, simply want to play with their feline housemate, and the puppy may look at the cat or kitten as a toy. On the other hand, your feline fur baby might not appreciate being chased and will constantly be on the lookout for a safe place to take cover. If your kitty is always on edge because of this, life for your feline can be downright miserable.

3. Type of Dog Breed

This behavior can be especially dominant if you have a breed of dog with herding instincts. Canines belonging to the herding group will inevitably pursue a chase, and it may be difficult to break the habit. But hey, if the dog and cat get along and it’s a game, then no harm, no foul—as long as the dog isn’t too rough and understands limits and boundaries.

Australian Shepherd puppy running
Image Credit: Chris Curtis, Shutterstock

4. A Territorial Issue

There are many different reasons why some dogs display territorial behaviors, and getting to the root of the behavior is detrimental to getting the issue in check for your kitty’s safety. Some signs of territorial aggression are growling, snapping, lunging, and biting. If your dog displays any of these behaviors, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible.

Now that we’ve examined why dogs chase cats, read on to learn how to stop it.

The 3 Ways to End the Game of Chase

1. Redirect the Behavior

You’ll want treats or your dog’s favorite toy on hand for this training exercise. Positive reinforcement is the key to redirecting the behavior. It will take time and patience on your end, but with consistency and perseverance, you can redirect the unwanted behavior for good. The gist is this: anytime your dog wants to chase the kitty, turn their attention toward you, but be sure to have a treat or their favorite toy in hand. Be careful, though, not to give the reward until your dog averts its attention away from the cat.

2. Use a Collar or Leash

This method comes in handy, especially if you’re introducing a new kitty to the home. The leash will provide a safe boundary for the two to get acclimated to one another before letting your dog off-leash. You can also incorporate positive reinforcement during this process to teach your dog that chasing the kitty is a no-no.

Cat and Dog_Chendongshan_Shutterstock
Image By: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

3. Use a Clicker

Clickers come in handy as a training tool, as well. This tool teaches your dog to ignore the cat. When the desire strikes your dog to chase the kitty, command the dog to “leave it.” When your dog complies, push the button on the clicker and give it a treat. Again, consistency is key.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are cats afraid of dogs?

The simple answer is yes. Put yourself in the cats’ shoes: if something much bigger than you were chasing you, you’d be afraid, too. But not all cats are afraid. Some cats are more social and curious and want to feel the dog out, while others will retreat to their safe area until the canine is out of sight. Some cats display dominance, so you’ll need to monitor both the dog and cat’s behavior to address the issue effectively.

scared British blue-point cat hiding under the bed
Image By: zossia, Shutterstock

Can I use a shock collar?

Rather than use a shock collar, which can hurt your dog, an e-collar is safe and effective and will cause your dog no harm during the training process. This collar provides a low level of stimulation whenever unwanted behavior occurs.

How do I train my puppy to stop bothering the cat?

If you’re bringing a puppy into the mix, you’ll have a great chance of socializing and training the pup to leave the family cat alone. At first, you’ll want to separate the pup and cat, and baby gates come in handy for this purpose. The separation will give your cat time to adjust to the pup’s presence during the training process.

Puppies are full of energy, so regular play will keep the pup exercised and not as curious. As time goes by, try gradually introducing the two. Using a leash is an effective way to keep the pup from lunging at the cat, and it will allow you to reward good behavior when the pup ignores the cat.

cat and dog
Image Credit: giselaatje, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

It’s important to supervise your fur babies during the entire training process. Never leave your dog and cat unsupervised until it is 100% safe to do so. It’s also important to provide your kitty with a safe area to retreat to if they feel in danger. Remember, you can train your dog not to chase the kitty with patience, consistency, and time.

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: Shufrych, Shutterstock

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