Why Did My Dog Kill My Cat?

dog and cat

Why Did My Dog Kill My Cat or My Neighbor’s Cat?

Yes,  we understand that a dog owner does not feel very proud and well once he/she perceives that his/her dog has killed a cat, no matter whether it is the neighbor’s cat or his/her own.

Being that so many thoughts may go through your mind once you find yourself in this situation, we decided to answer some of the possible questions you might have, such as, “Why did my dog kill a cat? What happened? Does this show that my dog is aggressive? Does this mean that my dog is going to kill other dogs and other animals? What about killing or attacking children?”

Do not think that you are the only owner who is feeling shocked after their dog managed to kill an animal.

Many dog owners even feel like their dog is a monster and sometimes even think about giving up their dog.

However, putting the dog down is not the right solution and we never suggest taking drastic measures.

If this happened to you, you should not consider the dog evil, but you must understand why the dog expresses this kind of behavior.

It can be done only if you know what exactly happened, being that numerous different causes may trigger this behavior.

It is important that you consider what happened before – whether your dog chased the cat or whether the cat came into your dog’s property.

In our article, we provide you with some potential causes and tips on how to deal with this situation, as well as how to prevent this from happening again.

Dogs Who Chase and Kill Fleeing Cats

One possible situation is that your dog chased after a fleeing cat, which ended up killing the cat.

In this case, your dog’s behavior is totally normal.

You might not consider it normal behavior, as you have thought that your dog is not capable of doing something so horrible, but you are wrong.

Also, if you know that a certain dog breed has killed the cat, you should not think that that specific breed is evil and will always kill whatever comes into its way.

No, those are just dogs, and human traits should never be attributed to them.

A person who has committed murder may do it again, but unlike people, dogs do not have moral values.

They are instinctive creatures, and chasing and killing a cat is just a dog’s nature, as killing mice may be part of being a cat.

There is no need to be worried about your dog’s aggressiveness if it is chasing a fleeing cat.

You should consider it normal if it is running after any small animal, such as a squirrel, rabbit, or mouse.

It is just a similar need that our ancestors also had when they went hunting for food.

The dog’s instinct to chase and kill fleeing animals is considered innate and so as to explain the predatory behavior in dogs requires that we go back to ancient times.

Actually, those were the times when dogs did not depend on humans for food.

We will explain to you how predatory behavior works.

We all know that dogs were domesticated recently and that they have not always been fed from a shiny bowl.

Each dog’s ancestors were hunters at heart that had that great animal’s ability to track down, chase and kill animals in order to find food.

You may notice the level of predatory drive in every dog nowadays, and it is even connected to your dog’s eagerness to chase a ball or shake a toy.

The predatory drive consists of a fixed action pattern that goes this way: eye, stalk, chase, grab-bite, kill-bite, dissect and consume.

However, not all dogs will follow the same action pattern as this is fully based on genetics, history, motivation, and other factors.

A fleeing cat will simply trigger his predatory drive, and it is actually a movement that triggers it.

This is an automatic, reflexive response in dogs that are immediately ready to spring into action.

The moment the dog catches the animal, it grabs the prey by the neck and shakes, which is considered a typical predatory behavior with the aim to finish up their prey.

This is the case when the blood is not seen and the affected animal looks intact.

Behaviorists named this killing “the quiet bite”.

This is due to the fact that it is not done out of rage.

This predatory behavior is considered accepted if a dog is hungry.

However, there are situations when dogs kill cats but they are not starving at all.

Some owners believe that they act that way because they want to feel the pleasure of killing.

Again, everything that happens is related to instincts and the animal does not have to be hungry and it does not abide by moral values.

Their brains are not that complex as humans and they do not kill out of rage, so a dog killing a cat should not be taken as a type of murder.

This means that a dog who is acting out of instinct does not have an intention to do any harm, even though it eventually does.

Animals’ predatory instincts are frequently turned on because predatory killing means dinner and if a dog catches a cat, it feels the same pleasurable feeling as when a cat kills a mouse.

Humans feel the same way when they catch a lot of fish.

Owners should not feel like their dogs are being cruel for killing an animal.

What we do that way is attributing them moral values that dogs do not have.

Other Reasons Dogs May Kill a Cat

We need to say that if a dog kills a cat, the reason for this is not always a predatory drive.

That is why it is important that you witness what happened before the incident.

Sometimes the attack happens due to the fact that the dog is guarding an item such as food, toy, sleeping place.

It usually happens when the cat comes too close.

If your household is a place where a dog and cat live together for a while, sometimes the dog and cat play, and the cat is accidentally injured.

There were instances when dogs and cats interact well and suddenly predatory instinct take over.

People have noticed that cats and dogs are playing, and out of nowhere a dog’s predatory instincts suddenly turn on.

Furthermore, a dog may be chasing a cat out of his/her territory and a predatory instinct may take over.

This means that numerous possibilities arise and owners need to be familiar with what actually happened,.

If your household has multiple dogs, there can arise an issue that one dog is playing and other dogs join in.

At that moment, a predatory instinct may appear in one dog and the dog starts chasing the other dog, which may result in a killing.

There also were instances when a fight erupted among the dogs and unfortunately, the cat became a victim.

Usually, the cat enters a fenced yard, and the dogs that are already frustrated by other dogs transfer their predatory instincts towards the cat.

In a situation when dogs are aggressive towards other dogs, the cat can get panicky for some reason.

Due to the fight with other dogs,  there can be a chance that a dog is not feeling well and the cat did not read his signals to be left alone.

It is important to know that if in your household dogs and cats have gotten well along before, there have to be certain recent changes that could have caused stress and the bad reaction of the dog.

You need to have in mind that the dog may have certain medical problems that have affected their aggressive behavior.

Another reason that vets and behavior analysts emphasize is that dogs that are not exercised enough may use their energy to chase and unfortunately kill the cat.

You can expect that the dogs have started killing other animals if the cat started fleeing.

All in all, a real answer is never known and these are only assumptions.

Moving on Forward

Even though a dog killing a beloved cat is definitely a eat’s owner nightmare, you need to move on and keep living your life.

No matter how attached you were to the cat, blaming a dog for this situation, as it was only acting out of instinct, will not be helpful to you.

Instinct trigger certain kinds of behaviors that can be managed and changed, but can never be totally removed.

Our advice is to follow some of these tips to recover from the loss of your can as well as to prevent future unpleasant situations:

  • Manage the environment. Being that your dog killed might have killed a neighbor’s cat, you need to send condolences and offer to pay for the burial or cremation services. The next step is to make sure that a similar situation will never happen again in the future. We are those who are responsible for the dog’s environment, and we need to protect the animals of others, even though cats wander and frequently find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the other hand, cat owners are those who are responsible for ensuring that their cats do not go to the property where dogs are.
  • Prevent rehearsal. If you provide your dog with environmental opportunities to act on their predatory drive, this bad behavior will even get stronger and repeat in the future. We would like to mention that a dog that chases or kills a cat is likely to do it again.
  • Protect your other cats. In case you are the owner of other cats besides owning a dog,  you must prevent access to them from the moment the killing happened. Our advice is to keep the cats separated from your dog or even find a new home for your dog or the cat.
  • Seek help. As we have mentioned, dogs’ behavior to chase cats is “natural”, but this can be changed or at least, limited. we suggest force-free training and behavior modification which are considered quite helpful.
  • Will my dog now hurt my children? No, you should not worry about this as killing a small animal does not mean that the dog would hurt a person. If the dog has some behavioral problems, it may attack an infant or another dog, but this happens only if the dog is at risk for such problems. There were instances when dogs were overstimulated by fast-running children. If you notice some changes in its behavior, you should always practice caution and supervise the interactions of dogs and children. This has to be done no matter whether your dog has already killed small animals or not. If you are worried about this, you can always consult with a professional to assess your dog.

A Note About Safety

If you are really concerned about why your dog is chasing and killing animals, you can always seek the help of a behavior professional who will provide you with proper management options.

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