Can a dog bred and trained to chase a lure ever get along with other, smaller animals? In the case of retired greyhounds the answer is usually yes! Greyhounds make wonderful additions to families, even those with cats already in residence. In fact, since retired greyhounds sleep an average of fourteen hours a day, you could say they are the best dog for cat lovers.
Most reputable dog tracks around America have adoption program volunteers available to share the gentle, curious nature of greyhounds and answer questions you may have. In general, retired greyhound adoption groups screen the dogs to determine if they are cat-safe. Usually the dog is secured in a kennel or crate and a cat is allowed to walk by. If the dog ignores the cat, or shows mild curiosity, the dog is labeled cat-safe. However, if the dog shows aggression, the group knows to find it a feline-free home. While this process isn’t a full guarantee, it is a very good indicator of the dog’s nature.
When introducing a fresh retiree to new surroundings that include a cat, it’s recommended that the dog remain muzzled, leash held by an adult, while another adult quietly holds the cat. This way the dog can make a reasonable initial exploration of the people, pets, and environment and everyone is safe. If the dog remains disinterested, release the cat and observe the reactions. Some greyhounds get very curious while some ignore a moving cat completely. If the grey remains easy, remove the leash and let the animals interact (if the cat is willing). Finally, replace the leash (so you maintain control) and remove the muzzle. When you’re satisfied the greyhound isn’t overtly concerned with the cat, let them interact without barriers, yet still under supervision.
A hissing cat often startles a greyhound fresh from track life. The resulting caution of the dog grants the cat a measure of safety, but while cats can leap 10-12 feet, greyhounds can leap 12-14 feet. This is a rule cats are not used to so you must exercise some caution during the first days.
Another rule of greyhound behavior is that no greyhound is considered cat-safe outside. Greyhounds are sight hounds, meaning they’re attracted to movement and their desire to run, chase and catch is genetic. A cat and dog can be great buddies in the living room, yet if they meet outside there is a very real possibility of the dog attacking his pal either aggressively or playfully. You cannot safely assume the dog will recognize the cat when they are outdoors, so if your cat goes outside, make sure he has safe passage through the yard.
With the proper introductions and some time to grow familiar, cats and greyhounds can become lifelong friends and you’ll have a wonderful canine addition to your pet-loving family.