Predatory Instincts: Understanding Why Dogs Chase Cats

Discover why it's in a dog's nature to chase your feline, plus the tips and tricks to prevent this behavior.

Nov 4, 2023By Donna Hobson
understanding why dogs chase cats

Dogs and cats possess the ability to live together in harmony, but sometimes the differences between these two species become more evident, and the two do not get along so well.

Discover the reasons why dogs chase cats - from instinct to play - and why this could pose a danger to your feline.

Why Do Dogs Chase Cats?

dog chasing and catching cat
Credit: Image by Ilona Ilyes on Pixabay

Dogs chase cats because it is their instinct to do so. While cats are solitary hunters who enjoy their own company, dogs are social pack animals who love to play with one another through chasing and other similar games.

Most of the time, this is innocent fun for the dog; however, a feline can perceive it as threatening behavior, and thus, the chase begins. Movement triggers a dog to chase the cat, but it's vital to stop this behavior as it can lead to your dog viewing its feline as a toy rather than a companion.

It's easy for dogs and cats to experience miscommunication with one another. For example, a tail wagging up high can be a dog's way of saying hello; for a cat, this can be a defensive stance or a sign of caution. In this instance, your cat could feel under threat while your dog thinks they want to play.

Other Reasons Why Dogs Chase Cats

dog chasing cat
Credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

Aside from instinct, a puppy may view a cat as a play toy. This may be harmless from the dog's perspective, but it could trigger anxiety in your cat. Constant chasing can put a cat on edge and leave them feeling miserable, as they constantly look for a safe space to call their own.

Chasing behaviors may be particularly prominent in certain breeds of dogs, such as herding dogs. Their instincts and habits are hard to break but can be harmless in the right environment. Teaching your dog limits and boundaries is a crucial way to protect them and your feline against rough play.

Finally - and perhaps most dangerously - is the need to establish their territory. Suppose this is the case; you need to address it immediately for the safety and wellbeing of your feline. Territorial behaviors include growling, biting, or lunging at your cat, so keep a close lookout for any of these.

How To Stop Dogs Chasing Cats

dog cat relaxed playing
Credit: Image by Chris Emerson on Pixabay

If you want to stop your dog from chasing your cat, there are a couple of different methods that you could try.

Firstly, make sure that you can retain control of their attention. You can do this by placing your cat in a crate and allowing your puppy to come in and smell them. Call them each time they approach your cat and reward their good behavior with a treat.

By doing this, you emphasize that it's good behavior to leave the cat be, and they will understand that not pestering the cat gets them rewards. Once you establish these boundaries, let your cat loose in the same room as your dog and continue reinforcing them leaving the cat alone.

If your dog begins to chase your cat at any stage, call their attention back to you. Stopping the chase before it starts is the best way to prevent this unwanted behavior from your dog. If your dog continues the pursuit, follow them with stern commands to let them know that the behavior is unacceptable.

You'll need to employ a different method whenever your dog fails to respond to your commands. Try keeping your dog on an adjustable lead, even in the house, and when they attempt to chase your cat, call their attention to you. If they respond, reward them with a treat to reinforce good behavior.

Why Won't My Dog Stop Chasing My Cat?

dog cat face off
Credit: Image by giselaatje on Pixabay

When your dog fails to stop chasing your cat, it could indicate that something else is going on.

Ask yourself: is my dog getting enough exercise? If they have excess energy, they may expend it on chasing your feline around the house. To combat this, ensure they have plenty of time walking and roaming outside and that you play with them regularly.

Sometimes behavioral changes can be triggered by an underlying illness. If you think this may be the case, book them an appointment with your vet to ensure nothing is going on.

Are Cats Scared of Dogs?

dog intimidating cat
Credit: Image by creisi on Pixabay

Yes, many cats fear, or feel threatened by, dogs. Imagine being chased by something much bigger than you are; you'd feel a sense of fear too. However, not all cats are afraid; some will enjoy getting to know your canine through their social and outgoing personalities.

If your cat seems happy, leave them, and monitor how the bond between animals develops; however, if your cat retreats every time they see your dog, it could be a sign that they are scared.

In contrast, some cats may try to assert their dominance over your dog, so it's crucial to monitor the behavior of both animals to check that the relationship between them is healthy.

Donna Hobson
By Donna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.