ANN/THE STAR – In cartoons, cats and dogs are enemies. In real life, the issue is not clear-cut.
Generally speaking, a pet dog who is treated properly as a family member, is going to be gentle with all other members of the family, from kids to kittens.
Dogs who are trained to see other animals as family, will cuddle, sleep with and share food. Hence there are dogs who live happily with cats, rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep and other animals.
However, prey drive can be an issue. Carnivores all share an instinctive need to locate, chase and catch their food; this is nicknamed prey drive.
While it’s inbuilt to a certain extent in all animals, some have lots of it, and some dogs have been specifically bred for it. For example, Lurchers have been bred for centuries to spot and hunt rabbits and hares while Bull Terriers were bred originally to subdue farm stock like bulls.
Although there are millions of softhearted soppy Lurchers and Bull Terriers, that genetic inheritance is still there.
Therefore, owners have to be very careful to train their pets to be social.
Sometimes, this works. There are Lurchers and Bull Terriers who live happily with kittens and cats.
And sometimes, the genes are just too strong to overcome.
Then, no matter how much a dog wants to be proper member of the family, and living by the rules, they just can’t help themselves.
When they see a cat or other furry, they’re up and at it, prey drive running their minds and bodies. It’s not a conscious choice, dogs don’t have our sense of control, and so the only thing to do is to make sure they’re not tempted.