With a history of working along with other dogs and people every day in their native lands, Siberian huskies are born to be very gregarious animals. Because of this gregarious nature, huskies are often known for making poor guard dogs. If they meet an intruder, they might as well invite him over for a movie and some popcorn as if they just met a long, lost friend.
While loyal to those in his family, a husky has a tendency to remain friendly to everyone he meets. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but generally huskies are known for being good-natured with everyone and sociable with other dogs. The truth is, Siberian huskies hate being left alone and they enjoy any opportunity that allows them to make new friends, even if this entails escaping from the yard!
The harsh conditions in Siberia equipped the Siberian husky breed with strong prey drive because food there is scarce and hard to come by. While huskies are generally friendly and not aggressive towards other dogs, they must be supervised around small animals in and around the home, according to the American Kennel Club. Squirrels, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, hamsters and cats are animals that can easily end up on your husky’s menu of the day.
Huskies are Chasing Machines
When cats run, they activate a husky’s chase instinct, a response closely related to predatory aggression, according Diane Morgan in the book “Siberian Huskies for Dummies.” The predatory sequence in dogs involves searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing and eating. In a simple chase response, your husky might not carry out the whole sequence. He may just run after, and then play by gently mouthing the kitty. Whether your husky chases Fluffy just to play or to actually cause harm and pursue the whole sequence, will depend on a variety of factors.
I’m just doing a “cat scan.”
Stubborn and Bull headed
Because prey drive is an instinct that is closely related to survival, no amount of training your Husky is likely to completely suppress the appeal prey has for your husky. However, with training, a high prey drive can sometimes be overridden by a learned response. For instance, you can train your husky to look at you or sit instead of chasing a cat, or you can teach him through friendly “purrsuasion” that great things happen when he sees a cat and shows no intent to do harm. While training a dog to control himself is an attainable task, you must consider that this breed is not the easiest to train. Huskies can be willful, obstinate, and quite stubborn. “You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say,” explains trainer and author Michele Welton.
Fresh Starts for Huskies & Cats
So are Huskies good with cats? With strong predatory drives, an easily triggered chase response and a stubborn streak, you may think it would be “impawssible” to have a husky get along with cats. Don’t be totally discouraged though; some owners have had success, and every dog, whatever the breed, is an individual. For a good start, select your husky carefully. Find a reputable Siberian Husky rescue who has started socializing the dog with cats and other small animals. Let the rescue help you select a pup who shows potential to get along with cats. When you bring your Huksy home, you must teach him from the get-go that he must respect kitty as part of the family. When huskies are introduced to other animals at a young age, the chances for getting along are higher. With an older husky, things get significantly more challenging, especially if he has never met cats before, so make safety your top priority and don’t have high expectations.
Safe Boundaries Between Huskies & Cats
Keep in mind that just because a husky may accept Fluffy as part of the family, it does not mean he will treat other neighborhood cats kindly. Make sure your husky is always in a fenced area or on a leash when he’s outside. Inside the home, make sure your felines have escape routes when they get tired of being pestered by your rambunctious puppy. Cat trees, baby gates and a safe room will work fine. Also, it helps to interrupt any chasing, barking or agitated behavior from your dog and train solid obedience commands so you are able to regain control when you need it.
Finally, for safety’s sake, don’t ever let your guard down; when you can’t directly supervise them, keep your husky and cat away from each other. Confine them in separate areas of your home. It never hurts to err on the side of caution, and your caution may be the only ultimate security your kitty has with a high-prey dog living in the house.