Ray has always displayed a really (REALLY) strong aversion to cats!
In his early days with us, we noticed this trait. It was not that he seemed uncertain about them, but more that he was actually threatened by them. His reaction typically would be an aggressive charge accompanied with some loud barking which was his standard procedure for making things go away.
If he had the experience of cats that I have had, he would have known that many cats have a worse attitude than he does. They would likely sit and watch this oncoming dog and, at the very last moment, whip a set of claws across his nose before taking off very fast. Cats will often confront a much larger animal regardless of the potential outcome (they have confronted me!).
It would be my guess that somewhere in his history, there was an altercation with a cat… and he still remembers it!
His aversion to cats goes beyond trying to threaten them whenever their paths cross. He even goes looking for them! Around here they will often sit in the middle of their home’s driveway, or they will relax under a car. Ray knows this and, if he sees vehicles in a driveway and knows that there is cat around somewhere, he will put his head down low enough so that he can see under the parked vehicles. I shudder at the thought of what would happen if Ray was not on his leash!
Our vet (more precisely Ray’s vet!) has a cat who seems to run the office there. It is usually curled up in a basket on the reception counter, and seems to be very congenial and happy supervising the business from there. One problem with that arrangement is that Ray can reach up higher than the reception counter, which he did on one occasion and generally caused a stir as the “office supervisor” took flight (literally). There have been other occasions when the cat has decided to change locations upon Ray’s arrival, but they are now ready for him.
We recently took Ray for a “happy visit” to the vets as he is due for his annual check up very soon. As soon as he entered, one of the receptionists grabbed their cat and took it to another room! I have mixed feelings as to whether to be amused or embarrassed by this new office protocol caused by Ray.
“Leave it!” has been very effective when getting Ray to ignore edible objects found on the ground and, to a lesser degree, with leaving squirrels alone. We are going to try and expand “leave it!” to include cats! The problem, as with anything Ray related, is getting the timing right. The challenge is seeing the potential problem and issuing “leave it!” before he has started on his agenda. A piece of hamburger in the grass can often be seen well in advance of reaching it and, more importantly, it does not move. Squirrels are tricky because they can hide from us behind tree trunks, but Ray knows they are around. By the time we see it, Ray has the leash under extreme tension as he tries to chase and, once he is focused on a squirrel, no amount of “leave it!” will generally have any impact.
Given that he seems to feel much more strongly about cats than he does squirrels, it is difficult to be too optimistic about “leave it!” the next time he sees a cat but, currently, that’s the only weapon in our arsenal! Time will tell!