Basenjis and cats – Prey or Friends?

I've read some threads and seen the cat sleeping on Basenji and read about baby-gates being required forever with others. Just wondering about a show of hands from those who have experienced bringing a Basenji into a home with cats – how many have been successful at becoming friendly, how many are having to stay separate for safety? Thanks for any responses.

For those with time to read a few details:
I just adopted a Basenji mix and have found that for the first time in my life, I have a problem introducing my dog to my cats. My last two dogs lived with three of the cats easily, and I've brought a neighbor's dog in since my two dogs died last year to introduce the two new cats to the idea of dogs.

Honey, my new dog, shows GREAT interest in the cats, but made little feinting snaps (while on a leash) at one, and I've been working on desensitizing her to them (and now them to her after that incident) but am worried that permanent separation of the species might be required. I've never had this come up before (had Norwegian Elkhounds, Schipperke, Schnoodle-mix, and Lhasa-mix). I tried to "cat-test" her at the shelter, but none of the cats would come up to the front of their kennel when we were there, and Honey seemed to show some expected tentativeness and no obvious signs of aggression.

I have always had dogs with cats and have never ever had a problem until the Basenjis. My dogs and cats have always been buddies: grooming each other, sleeping together, until the Basenjis.

Both my Basenjis were brought into the home as puppies, and both want to KILL THE CATS. I have had no success with different approaches – controlled meeting on leash, crating the cats, crating the dogs --- to try to get them to be able to at least cohabitate in peace. Keoki is the more determined of the two, but both have a very strong prey drive directed at our cats - who are confused because they've never met a dog that didn't love them. Keoki even hears or thinks he hears the cats and he starts getting frantic and running back and forth. Sometimes the younger cat torments the dogs by sitting and peering down through the banister. I have to put the dogs outside sometimes because they get so worked up.

So, we use a gate and the cats live upstairs, the dogs live downstairs. Fortunately, the cats still get lots of love because the kids' bedrooms and family room are all upstairs. The cats come down at night once the dogs are crated, and they hang out with Gypsy, who is not crated and whom they have loved their whole lives.

we have 2 cats and 1 does not move much and Dash is not terribly interested in him. My younger one is not the least bit fearful and torments him sometimes. He gets to rough with her and has to be separated or the cat will jump on the table to get away. Although my young one is pretty comfortable around him I separate them during the day when we are not home. The cats stay in the basement and the dogs up stairs. As long as I am home we can control any issues that come up.

I think overall it can work but you have to be dilligent that all are safe.

Maddox (our cat) just loves Chance. We have 4ft baby gates in various areas of our house to separate when the play becomes rough. Chance enjoys putting Maddox in his place every so often and the poor cat just takes it. I really think the cat is an idiot at times. He keeps coming back for more!
I have already been forwarned about two B's and 1 cat. I expect things to be different once Kiya joins our family. The cat im sure will be "prey" and he just might enjoy it as odd as it sounds.

@dash:

I think overall it can work but you have to be dilligent that all are safe.

I think it depends entirely on the personality of the dogs and cats involved.

With Jazz, we were able to control the situation somewhat – she never interacted with the cat in a positive way, but if the cat was sleeping on back of the couch, for example. Jazz would not jump up to get it. If we were aware when the cat jumped down, we could control the outcome. If the cat jumped down w/out our awareness, a chase would follow.

Keoki becomes so totally focused on the cat that he almost seems to be deaf to our voices, and almost violent in his fight to get free of us if we hold him. I'm honestly afraid he may hurt himself. he appears totally unaware, once the cats appear w/in striking distance, that anyone or anything else is around.
Without bringing in a professional, there's not a lot we can do to solve the problem. He is just too intense.

@JazzysMom:

I think it depends entirely on the personality of the dogs and cats involved.

With Jazz, we were able to control the situation somewhat – she never interacted with the cat in a positive way, but if the cat was sleeping on back of the couch, for example. Jazz would not jump up to get it. If we were aware when the cat jumped down, we could control the outcome. If the cat jumped down w/out our awareness, a chase would follow.

Keoki becomes so totally focused on the cat that he almost seems to be deaf to our voices, and almost violent in his fight to get free of us if we hold him. I'm honestly afraid he may hurt himself. he appears totally unaware, once the cats appear w/in striking distance, that anyone or anything else is around.
Without bringing in a professional, there's not a lot we can do to solve the problem. He is just too intense.

Wow! that is really intense. Dash hasn't been that bad. Once we say "leave it" he stops for at least a second.

I'm afraid that I've made a major mistake in choosing Honey (only due to the cats). Today we had a good session on the back patio with the cats freely walking around the back yard and Honey (leashed) lying down "looking" more relaxed than when we started last week (she was standing and pulling towards the cats to start with), but after a car ride to PetsMart, we were out in the front yard talking with a neighbor and one of the cats came up very close. I had a good grip on the leash, but released the tension to allow some contact if friendly - the cat was ready to give her a head butt, but Honey made a darting motion with her mouth towards the cat (as she has done before). I asked the neighbor what she saw, and she said that she saw no teeth, but a definite snap/grab towards the cat. She and her husband kept some hunting dogs in Germany, and she believes that Honey shows definite "passion" for hunting. 😞

I am willing to pay for a behaviorist to work with us but my goal would not be having the dog/cats living in separate sections of the house. I feel strongly that the animals who were here first deserve to retain their home privileges and that it is my duty to make it possible for them to have free run of their home WITH the dog or WITHOUT the dog. If Honey had been here first, I'd feel the same about protecting her sense of wellbeing in her own home.

I think Honey would get adopted again if I took her back to the shelter, but I hate to put her thru all that again. I may look for a rescue that would let me act as foster parent for her while they look for a suitable home for her (don't know if any would do that, but it makes sense to me). I feel like a traitor to even think about this, but I'd feel worse if she maimed or killed one of the cats.

I guess I'll start with my vet - he said he could recommend a behaviorist; I can at least see what their evaluation recommends…

Honey has learned to "sit & wait" for permission to approach her food dish after it's put on the floor, and will sit and wait before going out the door for our walks (although that requires a food reward usually). She is better about letting me go into another room behind a closed door and doesn't bark/whine right away. I was proud of her accomplishments so far, but the most important thing for her to learn may be more than her instincts will allow… 😞

Okay, deep breath here. Breathe in… breathe out. Alright, now that we've got that out of the way...

You say you just adopted Honey… so give her a little bit of time to relax into the home. Yes, the cats will be put off (they were once worshiped as gods and have never forgiven humanity for dethroning them), but in time, Honey will relax and the cats will too. Or they will feign indifference and you'll catch them boxing with each other...or worse... sleeping together!

It takes time… but patience and calmness (as well as giving each critter its own "safe place") will win the day. Even after living together 3 years, Rock & Ron still love to harass each other and play "chase" and "guess where I'm hiding before I beat you senseless"... Honey will come round. Channel the energy into playing ball or with a toy when ever she starts to get excited about the cats. I'm not an expert trainer, but it worked with my crew.

Best of luck!
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I have 7 cats and 2 basenjis right now. In the past I had a basenji, a mixed breed and a few cats and they all got along fine. I brought kittens into the house when my two dogs were old and they slept with the basenji. He was pretty quiet by then and he never had a strong prey drive.

The crew I have now is pretty interesting. Two of my cats really love to play with my bboy. My female can get a little rough sometimes. Some of the cats would rather not play that way, but I have a gate at the top of the stairs so the cats can slip through if they want to get away. I had a cat tree for a while, also, so the cats could escape if they wanted to.

I have always had dogs and cats at the same time and never before have I seen a dog that my cats could not train. All my cats trained my puppies by simply smacking/scatching them if the puppies/dogs came near them. That's how they learned to respect the cats. The basenjis are another story. The cats are just too much fun to chew on to let any scratching stop them. And I've noticed they go after some cats more than others. All in play, but the cats that aren't afraid of them have much less trouble - or maybe they simply think it's fun to be chewed on! If things get too rough, the cats will go under the couch and play with the dog from there (they play mostly with my bboy.)

Good luck, and I think you'll find that a behaviorist can be a big help.

@RockysWoman:

Okay, deep breath here. Breathe in… breathe out. Alright, now that we've got that out of the way...
...Yes, the cats will be put off (they were once worshiped as gods and have never forgiven humanity for dethroning them)...

🙂 Thanks for that – after reading some of the "Basenji aggression" posts here, it was good to laugh AND take a deep breath!

@RockysWoman:

It takes time… but patience and calmness (as well as giving each critter its own "safe place") will win the day. Even after living together 3 years, Rock & Ron still love to harass each other and play "chase" and "guess where I'm hiding before I beat you senseless"... Honey will come round. Channel the energy into playing ball or with a toy when ever she starts to get excited about the cats. ...

That is what I have been doing, and will continue with the behaviorist. I've had dogs and cats together all my life, even when I was growing up. Some of the posts about Basenji "prey drive" and "hunting instincts" added to her behavior with the cats has me worried that this particular mix of animals doesn't always work out well – for the cats. 😞 Thanks for the encouragement and the photos of your crew being congenial together. If I knew exactly what would happen if I let Honey t-o-u-c-h one of the cats, I would have my answer, but I still can't tell whether she is "just boinking them with her nose" or "preparing for a kill"!

@jaclempner:

… I have always had dogs and cats at the same time and never before have I seen a dog that my cats could not train. All my cats trained my puppies by simply smacking/scatching them if the puppies/dogs came near them. That's how they learned to respect the cats. The basenjis are another story. The cats are just too much fun to chew on to let any scratching stop them. And I've noticed they go after some cats more than others. All in play, but the cats that aren't afraid of them have much less trouble - or maybe they simply think it's fun to be chewed on! If things get too rough, the cats will go under the couch and play with the dog from there (they play mostly with my bboy.)

Good luck, and I think you'll find that a behaviorist can be a big help.

Thanks! I got 2 names from my vet and have contacted one so far, and will call the second on Monday. If Honey will "only" play with the cats, my worst fears would be over – then there's the fears about what happens to the house during the dog/cat chase - but that's a minor issue compared to my fears of mangled/dead cats. At least now I have more stories about Basenji/cats living together safely -- hopefully she is just trying to get them to play with her.

I would get the cats bed and let the dog sleep on it, or have it in the crate so that the dog will get used to the cats smell.
Maybe once the smell becomes part of the dogs mind, the need to chase off might slow down.
Couldn't hurt anyway…but be sure to keep the dog from the cat until the dog settles down.
Hugs..its awful when the "kids" don't get along!

In reality, all hounds (sighthound) will most likely chase cats.. as will Terriers and especially herding dogs… Terriers have a very high prey drive... and herding dogs do to the extent that need to control..... so your problem is not really limit to Basenji...

Whenever Samantha gets rambunctious or wants to show off for us she'll go after the cat. Otherwise she does that thing that B's do by lifting her paw and tilting her head and try to paw at the cat to get her to play - dumb cat never really wants to play with the B!

I do know for sure though that basenjis are definitely faster than cats - Samantha can catch the cat in the back yard and send her tumbling even if the cat has a head start!

Then there are the days that we find them both snuggled up on someones bed getting along peacefully - but I think the cat is just tolerating the situation!

When I got my first two B's, Maggii could not have cared less about the our cat… until OJ showed up... and then.. it was a pack thing. As long as he didn't run, it was OK, however OJ was determined that all that hair should be plucked out... when we added Mickii the pack thing was worse... also our cat didn't fight back... had he when they were pups and swiped them a few times with his claws.. I think it would have been different... We did wind up separating the house with perm gates.. installed a cat door for him off the master slider to the deck...

I have found that as long as you introduce them when one or the other is a puppy/kitten they will almost always live as peaceful as basenji life can be. But putting adult cats and dogs together that were never raised with cats or dogs can be tenuous with any breed.

Sometimes (if your there to make sure it doesn't get out of hand) sometimes if they "duke it out " once they come away with a heathy respect for each other and that ends it.

@wullis:

I have found that as long as you introduce them when one or the other is a puppy/kitten they will almost always live as peaceful as basenji life can be. But putting adult cats and dogs together that were never raised with cats or dogs can be tenuous with any breed.

Sometimes (if your there to make sure it doesn't get out of hand) sometimes if they "duke it out " once they come away with a heathy respect for each other and that ends it.

I can tell you as per my last post… mine were introduced to the cat as puppies and it made not one bit of difference.... Our cat was not a fighter.. and had he stuck up for himself... I think it would have been different.

However on the other hand, one of my puppy owners twice introduced adult cats and adult Basenjis... and work really well.... took time but it worked... each situation is different...

@wullis:

I have found that as long as you introduce them when one or the other is a puppy/kitten they will almost always live as peaceful as basenji life can be. But putting adult cats and dogs together that were never raised with cats or dogs can be tenuous with any breed.

Sometimes (if your there to make sure it doesn't get out of hand) sometimes if they "duke it out " once they come away with a heathy respect for each other and that ends it.

In my experience, I must disagree. It really depends on the particular dog and the particular cat.

I know I've covered it in previous posts, so won't bother again, except to that I've never had problems introducing dogs of various ages to cats of various ages, until the Basenjis. We've introduced adult dogs to our cats with very little trouble at all, and we've never had a situation, in 22 yrs of marriage, where our dogs and cats were not fast friends.

Both my Basenjis were puppies when we got them. With Jazz, we had one adult cat and one kitten when she moved in. Three years later, they cannot stand each other. With Keoki, he was a puppy, both cats were adults; they HATE him, and he wants to kill them.
The dogs both go nuts if they even catch a glimpse of either cat or hear them. And God help the cat that even thinks about coming over the gate.

And trust me, it ain't from lack of trying on our parts!

It is true that every situation is different.

We always worked our dogs with other animals, training horses, herding horses, cattle, geese ect. So maybe that made a difference. Also when I brought a pup or kitten into the household I would give to the dominent female or bitch and "put them in charge" of it. Once the maternal instinct takes over she will make sure the "pack" accepts her lead.

All that being said it doesn't always work, my ex and I had a coydog rescue that had been severly abused. She attached herself to my ex exclusively. We never had a problen introducing animals UNTIL she became the households dominant bitch (like seven years in) and then we got a kitten that bonded to my wife and she killed it instantly. She wasn't sharing my ex's affection with anyone

One more thing on a lighter note, basenjis non lethal cat attack cracks me up!!! You know when they charge across the field at full speed and then drop their front legs and use their chest as a battering ram. The cat goes tumbling like a ten pin….... but is none the worse for wear.

I've never seen any breed but a senj do that

We already had 2 cats when we brought Dingo home and the cats immediately tried to show him who's boss. It didn't take long for him to realize that A) he was a dog and 😎 he was bigger than they were. My wife layed the dog on his back and held him there in a submissive position and let the animals smell each other. It has worked for the most part because they all seem to coexist quite nicely. However, at least once a day Dingo and one of the cats ( Indy) get into a tussle which they both seem to enjoy and it's 50/50 as to who starts the fight. All the other cat (Kion) has to do is raise her paw and he backs off. Oddly enough though, one minute it sounds like they're tearing each other to pieces and the next minute Dingo will be licking (grooming) her. If I can ever post a video of it I'll do so. It is a sight to behold.

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