Basenjis and cats – Prey or Friends?

  • Hi everyone,

    This thread seems pretty relevant to a problem that's been worrying me lately. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    To make a long story short, I'm graduating from school in two months and will most likely be moving in with my boyfriend for what will probably be a very long time since we plan to be married someday. He owns two basenjis, an 11-year-old female and a 4-year-old male. (I won't name names since they're not mine.) I have two adult cats. Neither of us know what to do about the cats when I move in. Ideally, I would like to slowly introduce the dogs and the cats to each other, but my boyfriend is very skeptical about the basenjis' response.

    The 'senjis have lived in this house for four or five years, so it is definitely their territory. The female basenji is the better behaved of the two. This might be hard for some of you to believe, but she's sweet and calm and fairly obedient. The male is all basenji. He's a counter-surfer, a fence-jumper, a food-stealer–you name it. My boyfriend seems to think that both dogs have a strong prey drive. They'll dart after anything that moves. The female has killed several squirrels and rabbits in her lifetime. The male is very interested in other animals, but (at least according to the boyfriend) probably wouldn't know what to do if he caught one. The female came from a breeder and was probably not exposed to cats, and the male is a rescue and may or may not have been exposed to them.

    As for my cats, Finnegan is outgoing, affectionate, and playful. Callaghan is shy and timid. Both are shelter cats. Finnegan has all of his claws, but poor Callaghan is a four-paw declaw. I'm willing to take the time to introduce the four slowly, but would be devastated if anything happened to my cats. I'd have a hard time forgiving the basenjis if either of the cats were killed. My boyfriend feels the same way. He's afraid that no matter how "cool" the basenjis seem with the cats when we're around, the situation could change for the worse if we left the cats and hounds alone. The male basenji can probably get over baby gates since he's climbed over the three-foot high fence in the backyard countless times, so I'm no sure how many escape routes there would be for the cats, especially since my boyfriend closes the bedroom door during the day and doesn't really use the basement for anything other than laundry.

    The worst case scenario is that I relinquish the cats to my mom, who loves when I bring them over, but I've lived with cats for most of my life and would be very sad (and possibly resentful toward the 'senjis) if I had to give them away. I made a commitment to these cats when I adopted them from the shelter and I don't believe in giving away pets just because it's inconvenient. You could say that I'm more of a cat person than a dog person, in short. 😕

    For those of you who were able to successfully introduce basenjis to cats and vice versa, how were you sure that the cats wouldn't be hurt when you left the animals all alone together? What are some tips and tricks for getting the basenjis and cats used to each other? Does a cat's temperament make a difference in how basenjis get along with it? Will the basenjis' regard for me make a difference in how they treat my cats? (When I first met the male basenji, I was warned that he wasn't very keen on women, but he is obsessed with me! He's a tail-wagging, yodeling fool when I walk in the door, and respects my discipline as much as he respects my boyfriend's discipline. The female likes me, too, but she's generally a lover with everyone.) Have any of you been in a similar situation?

  • Addendum: The male basenji was crate-trained once upon a time but has had the run of the house for most of the three years he has lived there. The female basenji is not crate-trained. Both dogs are fairly food aggressive, and the male HATES to be moved out of position if he's on the couch or in bed. If any of this info makes any difference . . .

  • We brought our Basenji/Dachshund mix home to three cats. Two are older adult cats who have never really appreciated my desire to have a dog around. They tolerate Corky as long as she doesn't chase them. If Corky forgets, they very quickly remind her that chasing won't be tolerated. Our kitten has always loved anyone/everyone who will play with her, and seems to enjoy wrestling with the dog. I occasionally have to break them up if the dog gets too rough, but the cat will initiate the wrestling/chasing matches as often as the dog. I still work with Corky to help her to remain calm around the cats, but that's not always easy with the kitten jumping on her and gnawing on her ear. 🙂

  • Hey all, I'm really interested in getting a Basenji but I have a few concerns. I've combed through this thread and read both the happy stories and the less than happy ones but I'm still on the fence. I then looked at some youtube videos of a basenji with a cat or cats and felt a little better. The thing I noticed was that any cat that would defend itself the basenji wouldn't "hunt to kill", rather it would just chase and wrestle. The cats obviously fought a little harder since they probably perceived it as more life and death than the basenji. So on to my situation I suppose. . .

    I live in an apartment, with only one cat who I've had since he was a kitten for 3 years now. This cat has travelled all over the country with me and I don't know if it's just his nature or bad socializing on my part when he was a kitten but he's kind of a jerk lol. He rarely claws but will "attack" hands and feet of almost anyone who tries to force interactions with him except the occasional girl I bring over (haven't figured out yet what "combination" of physical characteristics he likes in women lol) and myself of course. I got a cat since my student lifestyle meant I could be gone for long weekends or weeks and needed a pet that could handle itself for those lengths of time well. Now I am settling down, planning to buy a house soon so I'd like a dog and the Basenji seems like a perfect fit. . . except for all the contradicting views I'm seeing in regards to their interactions with cats. I want to know will I have a better shot by starting with a puppy so the cat can have a fair fight and start a healthy relationship with the pup early or should I look for an older dog that would be more aloof when it comes to the cat? I mean ideally I want a pup, I like the bond you build with raising an animal, but I'm alright with building a bond with a grown-up pup too. Also, is it better to wait til I get a house or is it ok to start the basenji out with me in my apartment and move with me to a house? I'm very excited about this breed and am obviously eager to get one as soon as possible. Also, does anyone know of any good Basenji breeders/rescue groups near the Los Angeles area? Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Wow, my vote would be wait til you settle in a house and go with a puppy who, raised with the cat, would be less of a threat.

  • First Basenji's

    I agree with Debra. But even if you don't go with a puppy, or you find that they just don't get along, you could use baby gates to block off portions of the house. We use gates, and that way, when my roommate's cat (9 year old male) gets fed up with Cody or the other dogs, he can just jump to gate to get away from them. Cody respects the gates, and the other two dogs are too small to jump them.

    You could check out BRAT and Medfly for rescues and the Basenji Club of America's Breeder Directory for breeders.

  • @sharronhurlbut:

    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!

    Yes Sharron. That is what I am planning with Kipawa. We have a huge bed that will go in Kipawa's crate. Up until now, all of the cats have slept in it. Our one cat, Maxo, almost 17 years old, is going to hiss and make a big fuss. I suspect Kipawa won't want to do anything with her. Our other cat, 15 year old Wallace, grew up with a dog, but has been away from dogs for a few years. He is the one we will keep an eye on. He will be more apt to run around the house to get away from the new puppy. In the end, it is about making sure they are all safe.

  • We already had a cat when we got Maxx at the age of 11 weeks. He and Bud got along great. Even after we no longer had Bud, Maxx liked cats…all he really wanted to do was sniff their butts, and once that was over with, he pretty much ignored them.

    I do have a funny story relating to Maxx and my sister-in-law's cats. She would never let Maxx in the house because she was afraid he'd go after her cats, even after repeated assurances that Maxx liked cats. One time, she finally relented and let Maxx in. Well, one of HER cats took off after Maxx and cornered him in a bedroom. I had to go rescue him! Bev was so proud of her cat that he (the cat) got a can on tuna fish.

  • Zest! who is almost 4 years old recently met a kitten, OC (office cat) for the first time. OC is rather bold and will pat (without claws) dogs. The first time Zest! met OC, she wanted to throughly sniff OC, but once realized someone in the room had treats, pretty much ignored OC in favor of treats. Even when OC batted Z's legs. Then next time they met (yesterday) OC walked up to Z and batted her. Z said "OH! I know this game" and whapped OC back and they had a great time playing. No chasing, just batting. I was surprised things went so well b/c to my knowledge Z has never met a cat and to meet one for the first time at 4 years, I was a little more worried things wouldn't go well.

    Digital the brindlewonderkid, OTOH would happily do serious damage to a cat. Even if the cat was not running. Of course Diggie has always had more prey drive than any other dog.

    Really, I think it just depends on the individuals involved.

  • So I've committed to getting a brindle basenji pup January 7th. She'll be about 18 weeks old by then so hopefully not too old to cultivate a healthy, non-homicidal relationship with my cat. The wait is killing me, feels worse than waiting for christmas day as a kid ha ha.

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