Ray has always had a problem with cats! Whether it is an intuitive thing, or whether he has had a bad experience, we of course can never know but we do think that it is rather more than simply prey drive.

Ray certainly does have a strong prey drive which is evident when squirrels* or rabbits** are active in his territory. It is also noticeable when out on a walk and a squirrel or a rabbit is seen dozing on somebody’s front lawn or scurrying up a tree (rabbit or squirrel in that sequence!).

When he sees either in his territory, his immediate response is to go charging after it and try to catch it. Failing a catch, then he has successfully driven it out of his area of concern. One can only speculate (with a big smile) what a squirrel chase would look like if Ray could climb trees!

When out on a walk, he generally has his nose down and clearly checking out the myriad of scents on the grass, beneath hedges, around hydro poles, bus stops and (of course) fire hydrants!  Almost secondary is his visual surveying of his immediate area, and so a squirrel or a rabbit on the ground will suddenly get his attention. His prey drive will then surface and he will usually pull hard on his leash in that direction. In fairness to Ray, a combination of “Leave it!”, and a treat presented (as soon as his head movement tells us that he has seen something of great interest) is often successful at neutralizing any reaction.

He does not appear to go specifically looking for squirrels or rabbits when out on a walk, and this is the key difference. He knows where the cat places are, and checks them out extremely thoroughly each and every time we pass one of those places. We have a house around the corner which is on our route to Ray’s (?) park***. It has driveways on both sides of the house and there are usually cars parked on both of them. Underneath, or alongside, those cars seems to be a favorite spot for cats to chill out. 

When Ray first discovered this “travesty of life”, he simply went into his typical chase mode and fortunately came up short of physical contact due to his leash. Unbeknown to him (presumably?), the leash probably saved him from a conflict which he would not have liked. While Ray lunged forward and ran out of available leash, the cat quickly tensed up its back legs and was clearly ready for action! I have seen many cats get themselves into this position and, on literally every occasion, it has been to prepare to spring forward.

There was no conflict however, due to his leash, but when we now approach those driveways, his body tenses up and his head goes down to the ground as he surveys the area under the parked cars. He is clearly in a “stalking” frame of mind and it is really intense. One evening he saw a cat beneath a car and starting creating so much noise (aggressive barking) that the people who lived in the house came out to see what all the noise was about! We explained the circumstances and quickly moved on!

It really does seem as if squirrels and rabbits are nothing more than objects to be chased and caught if possible. A cat however is clearly something to be hunted down. A cat is something that must not catch him off guard. A cat is really embedded in his mind as something to be always on the lookout for. I have not told him that I have had 5 of them as pets over the years! It might tarnish our relationship!

*See “Delusional Squirrel) – Dec 14, 2014

**See “Rocket Boy” – Nov 14, 2014

***See “Ray discovers acorns” – Oct 26, 2014

19 thoughts on “Cats!

  1. I’m glad that you were owned by cats in the past and understand that a dog can kill a cat if they want. But you are a good pet owner and know your dog’s personality and are willing to keep your dog within his boundaries. You are keeping your dog safe and the cat/s as well.

    My cats are not allowed to roam but my dogs get along with them. I’ve never taken any of the dogs for walks in the “hood” for there are no sidewalks and no nearby parks. But they have one fenced acre and run around and play or sniff for squirrels and such several times each day.

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  2. Sam isn’t a huge fan of cats, but has taken to one who seems to like him along our walks. He looks up that alleyway every. single. time. we. walk. past. it. I guess he’s hoping he’ll see his little friend. The sheepdogs were the same though they clearly did not like cats one bit. Eliot had a memory like an elephant. If a cat ran under a car, that car would be viewed suspiciously forever and always merited a thorough check. Dogs have such remarkable minds, you just never know what goes on in them.

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  3. It seems to be a given that dogs will always chase cats. Maggie has had her moment (chased one up a tree) but usually gives them a wide berth.
    My parent’s dog years ago hated them and would always give chase. That was until one turned on him, arched its back and started to hiss at an extremely loud volume! The dog immediately skidded to a halt by sitting on its haunches (took the fur off!) and turned tail. It was the last feline he chased. The damn thing was smug though and would sit on the wall and torment him through the lounge window.
    Maybe Ray was similarly threatened before he adopted you and has never forgotten.

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    • We tend to think that, perhaps as a stray, he had an altercation with a cat. As cuddly as they (cats) can be, they can also behave like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie at a moments notice! 🙂

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  4. Get ’em Ray! “Free” roaming cats, harumpf. Keep your dern cats in your dern house. I don’t let my dog roam “free”. I don’t let my dog climb through your bushes killing birds. I don’t let my dog take a “dump” in your flower beds. So, get ’em Ray! You have our support.

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