Help! Why Did My Dog Kill My Cat?

Every pet owner’s dream is to see their dogs and cats get together as best of friends, but this is not always the case. And it isn’t uncommon for a dog to severely injure or kill a cat. Now, why will a dog kill a cat?

A dog can kill a cat either due to territorial-based aggression, stress, or poor socialization; In some cases, it can even be accidental. Additionally, dogs are natural predators, and a pooch that kills a cat may have instinctively acted on its prey drive.

How then can you tell if your pooch accidentally killed your cat or if the killing was due to malicious intent? And what is the next step of action if your dear fido kills a cat? Answers to these questions, along with ways to ensure your furry friends live together in peace and harmony make up the bulk of today’s article. But, before we go into all this, let’s take a look at some potential implications of a dog killing a cat.

What Does It Mean If A Dog Kills A Cat?

Territorial Behavior

Dogs are highly territorial animals, and if your dog is suddenly attacking your cat, then it probably feels threatened or stressed by the presence of a feline in the house.

If left unchecked, this feline-directed aggression tends to increase in intensity, which can result in a dog killing a cat.

It Can Be Accidental

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Accidental injuries that occur during rough, physical play between dogs and cats can also be responsible for a doggie killing a kitty cat – This can explain why a pooch that seemingly got along fine with a kitty cat ends up killing it.

To tell if a dog killing a kitty cat accidentally happened during play, you should inspect the dead feline’s body for bites; The absence of bite marks may indicate that the killing was purely accidental. And while this method of inspection isn’t completely accurate, it can help guide you in making decisions concerning the future of a pooch that kills a cat.

Redirected Aggression

In a household with multiple dogs, it isn’t unusual to witness fights break out among the pooches. And if a cat happens to be around while the dogs are fighting, it can mistakenly fall victim to a redirected bite arising from an increase in excitement levels of the pooches.

In the same vein, dogs in a fenced yard may get frustrated at being unable to catch an animal that got into their yard and subsequently takes out such frustration on the cat.

Natural Predatory Behavior

All dogs have a natural tendency to display predatory behavior, and a pooch may act on its natural prey drive to kill a cat.

Dogs are triggered by motion, and sudden movement from a kitty cat may instinctively kick in a canine’s natural predatory instincts; This, in turn, can lead to a doggie giving chase to, and killing a cat.

Other Reasons A Dog May Kill A Cat

Apart from the reasons outlined above, a dog killing a can also be a result of:

  • Stress is due to changes in the canine’s environment
  • An underlying medical condition that increases aggression in the dog
  • Inadequate exercising and training

Is It Natural For A Dog To Kill A Cat?

Most dogs are predators by heart and it is only natural for a pooch with a high prey drive to repeatedly make attempts, and in some cases, succeed in killing a cat.

Most of the dog breeds with a high prey drive that’s unsuitable for cats have a history of being used to chase and hunt smaller animals in the past. And in the same vein, there are dogs that love chasing and teasing cats just for the fun of it.

That said, some popular examples of dog breeds that do not get along well with cats due to a high prey drive include the Yorkshire TerrierSiberian Husky, Doberman Pinscher, and the Greyhound.

Before introducing a cat into a household with a dog, or vice versa, it is your duty as a responsible owner to carry out a substantial amount of research into dog breeds that get along well with cats.

And some of these cat-friendly dog breeds include the Golden Retriever, Poodle, Boxer, and Pug.

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Can You Train Prey Drive Out Of A Dog?

Dogs are highly trainable animals, and with the right amount of effort and determination, coupled with appropriate training methods, you can train prey drive out of a pooch.

Teaching a dog to obey the recall command is one of the most effective ways of controlling high prey drive in canines, and it’ll be explained in detail in subsequent sections of this article.

Engage Your Dog In Regular Exercises

One way of reducing and eliminating prey drive in your dog is by encouraging play and regular exercising. Games that involve chasing, fetching, and retrieving toys and balls provide a great alternative outlet for a pooch’s prey drive instincts.

Despite all the attempts at training prey drive out of a dog, it has to be said that there is every chance that a relapse can occur; Hence, you have to make sure you constantly keep an eye on a trained pooch with a history of high prey drive.

What Do You Do When Your Dog Kills Your Cat?

Put Measures In Place To Protect The Other Cats

If you have other cats in the house, you should immediately put measures in place to protect them, while trying to unravel the reason your dog killed a cat.

Some of these protective measures include the use of muzzles and leashes, or temporarily relocating your cats to a trusted friend’s place or a boarding facility.

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What To Do With The Dead Cat?

You can dispose of your dead cat’s body by burying it in your background or cremation, but you should get acquainted with local laws before proceeding with either option.

In places where the cremation or backyard burial isn’t viable options, you can either drop off a dead cat’s body in a pet hospital or bury it in a nearby pet cemetery.

Seek Professional Help

Before taking the decision to put down a dog for killing a cat, you should seek professional advice from either your vet doctor or a suitably qualified animal behavioral trainer.

If your pooch was acting out on aggression from an underlying health condition that made it lash out and kill a cat, treating such a condition will help the dog feel better, thereby eliminating further aggressive behavior.

In cases where your dog kills a cat due to territorial issues and resource guarding, you can employ the services of a behavioral trainer who’ll help teach your pooch that such behavior isn’t acceptable.

And if your dog isn’t responding positively to training, then the behavioral trainer will be in a better position to advise you on what to do next.

What You Shouldn’t Do When Your Dog Kills A Cat

Dogs are predators by heart, and a doggie that kills a cat was, most likely, just acting on its natural hunting instincts.

  • Don’t punch, kick or hit a dog that’s killed a cat, as this will only encourage further aggression.
  • Don’t starve a dog as punishment for killing a cat.
  • Don’t encourage your dog to chase cats or smaller animals.

How Do I Get My Dog To Leave My Cat Alone?

Monitor Your Dog For Signs Of Aggression

By watching out for telltale signs of aggression in pooches, you can tell when your doggie is going to attack your cat, and calm it down before it can cause further damage.

Signs of aggression in dogs towards cats include:

  • Barking at doors or walls with a cat on the other side
  • Continuous growling
  • Staring
  • Lunging

The truth, however, is that you won’t always be there to calm your dog whenever it’s getting agitated. And this is why you should apply more direct methods such as training your dog to leave your cat alone.


One sure-fire way to get your dog to leave your cat alone is through proper and adequate training, coupled with positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praises to reward obedience.

Below are some tested and trusted training methods you can employ to get your dog to stop chasing the cat on command:

The Focus Method

  • Put your pooch on a leash, and lead it out to an open, quiet field.
  • Make a sound to draw your dog’s attention – this could be whistling or clicking.
  • Immediately your doggie looks over and comes towards you, offers it treats and showers it with words of praise.
  • Repeat the above processes daily, while gradually introducing distractions such as a cat or other people.
  • Cut down on the treats.

With constant practice, your pooch will learn to associate the whistling or clicking sound with treats – even in the absence of one – and subsequently come to you much faster on cue.

The Down Method

  • Put your dog on a leash and lead it to a quiet, open area.
  • Hold a treat in front of your pooch’s nose and command it to go ‘down’ in a firm, but low tone.
  • Don’t worry if your pooch doesn’t immediately obey the command to go down. Simply repeat the command as many times as possible, while encouraging your pooch to go down.
  • Immediately when your pooch gets to the ground, you should offer it a dog treat with words of praise.
  • Repeat the processes detailed above, while gradually introducing distractions like pets, toys, and humans.
  • Gradually stop offering your pooch treats when it obeys the ‘down’ command.

With this training method, you’re teaching your pooch to go down on command. And it can be particularly useful in diffusing the situation when you notice your dog displaying signs of aggression towards your cat.

Proper And Early Socialization

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Teaching your pooch to co-exist peacefully with cats in the house is one way to get your dog to leave your feline alone.

Socialization is carried out by gradually and properly introducing your doggie to your cat, thereby giving both pets time to adjust to each other’s presence, and reducing the risk of future attacks.

Make It Easy For Your Cat To Escape

Cats are great climbers, and the provision of high, vertical climbing surfaces in the home, can provide a means of escape for the feline when being chased by an overeager pooch.

Additionally, placing barriers that will just allow your feline to slip through when being chased can also help greatly in getting your dog to leave your cat alone.

What Can You Do If Your Neighbor’s Dog Kills Your Cat? If your neighbor’s dog kills your cat, you may be able to file a lawsuit and demand compensation for the damage caused by the pooch, depending on where you live. And in this case, the body of the dead cat should be kept as evidence. However, before you go about filing lawsuits and demanding compensation, you should first familiarise yourself with the laws of the area you live in.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Killing Animals? With serious training, coupled with positive reinforcement and careful management of your dog’s environment, you can stop your pooch from killing animals. However, if you’ve tried and failed to get your pooch to stop killing animals, then you might need to seek the services of a behavioral trainer to professionally analyze the situation and determine what next to do.

Can You Go To Jail For Killing A Cat? Depending on where you live, killing a cat can be a crime punishable by paying a fine and/or going to jail for a specified period. Killing someone’s pet cat legally translates to destroying the said person’s property, and if sued, you face possible time in jail.

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Pete Decker