Are Alaskan Malamutes Good with Cats? 6 Key Tips

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Alaskan Malamutes are known for being quite intimidating and being used for hunting in the past, but are Alaskan Malamutes good with cats?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Alaskan Malamutes have high prey drives which means they can chase after small animals like cats without much thought. It all depends on how they were introduced and at what age, and the personality that your Malamute has.

There is a lot to unpack with keeping Alaskan Malamutes with cats, so be sure to read the rest of this article to see when it is and when it is not a good idea.

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Alaskan Malamutes and prey drive

Before considering whether Alaskan Malamutes are a suitable breed to live with cats, it’s important to look at their prey drive.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, a dog’s prey drive is defined by their ‘instinctive inclination to find, pursue and capture prey’. In more simple terms, it means how likely a dog is to hunt another animal without being trained to do so.

In the majority of dogs who are prey driven – like the Alaskan Malamute or Husky – it is usually triggered by small, fast-moving animals which are commonly referred to by owners as ‘furries’. These include rabbits, rats, birds, and unfortunately cats hence the common stereotype that dogs hate their feline counterparts.

Alaskan Malamutes are a breed that is known for their high prey drives. This is likely linked to the fact that during the origins of the breed, Malamutes were used to help the indigenous people of the Arctic Circle hunt large predators such as bears.

In modern times, we’ve heard stories of Malamutes attempting to hunt sheep and even round up horses given the chance. This is why you should never let a Mal off their leash when on a walk unless in a completely enclosed and safe area.

Not every Malamute is interested in hunting prey but their large size and enormous strength make it difficult to stop them once they get going. It’s worth taking this into consideration before bringing a Malamute to any environment that may include small animals, particularly if they are somebody else’s pets.

Alaskan Malamutes And Cats

So, considering that Alaskan Malamutes have a high prey drive, are they a suitable breed to live with cats?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no and depends greatly on the Malamute’s personality and the situation they are being introduced in.

We should start by saying that we know of many success stories of Alaskan Malamutes living with cats. In the majority of these situations, the Malamute was introduced to the cat whilst they were still a puppy and their prey drive was yet to develop. This allowed them to see the cat as a member of the family rather than as a potential dinner.

We also know of Malamutes who were introduced to cats later in life after having no previous experience around them (including one of our own!) but note that they had no track record for pursuing small furries with their previous owner.

An Alaskan Malamute looking at a white cat

This doesn’t mean that every story has a happy ending, unfortunately, and some Malamutes are simply not suitable to live with any small animal, including cats. You may be able to convince a Malamute to be amicable if you take the proper steps to introduce them, but if they have a history of chasing after animals it may be best to avoid the situation altogether.

At the end of the day, Alaskan Malamutes are known to have a high prey drive and they can turn on a cat at any moment out of pure instinct. This even includes Mals who have already lived with the cat without any previous problems.

You must be prepared to do what is best for both animals to avoid them living in a potentially stressful environment and to avoid any harm that could come to the cat. Remember that Malamutes are much bigger than any domestic cat could ever be, and trying to separate them would be no easy feat.

How to introduce an Alaskan Malamute to a cat

If you think your Malamute has the potential to live with a cat, there are a few things you can do to make the introduction process go as smoothly as possible. We’ve included our personal favourite tips that have helped our cats and Malamutes live agreeably together – just don’t expect them to be best friends straight away!

These tips work best for Malamute puppies and extra care should be taken when trying to introduce a cat to an older Malamute.

1. Place objects with the other’s scent around them

Before allowing your Malamute and cat to meet, you should let them get used to each other’s scents. We recommend giving them each a blanket to sleep with and then switching them the next day.

Swapping scents with each other in this way is a form of communication for them and it will reinforce that the cat is a part of the household pack to your Malamute.

2. When they’re in the same room, make sure the cat has a way of leaving

In the event that your Malamute does turn aggressive, it’s vital that the cat has some way of leaving the situation where your Malamute can’t follow. This can be a cat flap, an open window, or even a tall cat tower that is out of reach of the Malamute.

It might cause a little destruction if your Malamute does try to pursue them, but broken objects are far better than an injured cat.

3. Don’t feed them near each other

Alaskan Malamutes are food driven and can be very protective over their meals, so it’s best to feed them separately from any other animals in the household. This will prevent them from forming any kind of food aggression towards the cat and reduce the tension at mealtimes.

4. Don’t force them to interact with each other

The worst thing you can do is force your Malamute and cat to interact with each other by purposefully bringing them together. When they do eventually interact, it should be on their own terms to avoid any unnecessary stress and to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be with each other.

5. Keep them separate when there is no one to supervise them

It should be obvious, but your Malamute and the cat need to be kept separately whilst you are not around to supervise them. Keeping them in separate rooms is perfectly fine as Malamutes don’t tend to try and pursue an animal unless they can see it move, even if they can smell them around.

6. Reward your Malamute for good behaviour around the cat

It goes without saying that praise is necessary to develop good habits in your Malamute. If your Mal is behaving well around the cat (this can be as simple as doing nothing!) then you should be giving them plenty of rewards, either verbally or with a good belly rub. We would avoid food rewards to prevent any food aggression in your Malamute.

Final Thoughts

So, are Alaskan Malamutes good with cats? It really depends on the individual dog but the breed certainly has the potential to be. Before making any introductions though, it’s worth taking the time to assess your Mal’s behaviour to ensure their natural prey drive isn’t as high as their reputation would have you believe.

Don’t forget to check out our article on how to introduce an Alaskan Malamute to other dogs.

If you have any questions about Alaskan Malamutes and cats, feel free to drop us a question below or contact us here.

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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5 thoughts on “Are Alaskan Malamutes Good with Cats? 6 Key Tips”

  1. If i introduce the malamute to my 2 cats while he is still a 8 or 9 week-old puppy, will it be easier for them to get along?

    • Hi Luis!

      Yes, we recommend introducing your Malamute to your cats whilst he is still a puppy to give them the best chance of getting along. This is because his prey drive won’t be fully developed at this age, so he will be more likely to view your cats as members of the household pack rather than something to chase.

      – Caitlin

  2. Hi! My family and I just recently adopted a 4 year old female Mal. We told the shelter that we do have 3 cats. In her file, they did state that did well around small dogs. I’ve been using the blanket introduction to them. Do you have any other advice that we could use to make this transition easier on all the animals and humans? Thank you!

    • Hi Nikki,

      Congratulations of the adoption of your new Malamute! Here are a few tips that have worked for us in the past:

      -Try putting one of your cats into a cat-carrier and bringing them into the room with your Malamute. It’ll allow them to get accustomed with each other in a controlled environment, and it’ll give you a better idea of how well they tolerate each other.
      -Let your Malamute see you being friendly towards your cats. She needs to understand that the cats are household members too!
      -Try introducing them after your Malamute has been on a long walk. The more tired she is – the less likely she is to be reactive.
      -Always make sure there is a place for your cats to get away during the introduction phase. Malamutes are big dogs but cats are much faster. If your cats can quickly get to higher ground they are less likely to feel threatened.

      Wishing you all the best for your family,
      -The Malamute Mom Team

  3. Great article, thank you. I am a german shepherd person and they can be terrible – or fantastic – with other animals. So when my room mate brought home a year old malamute I had no clue about anything. No husky experience. So far so good with the cats, they are coexisting. The malamute he brought home has high potential for problems…her previous owners left her outside her whole life in the same environment where they has lost their two previous dogs (big shepherds) to a mountain lion. So she knows how to ambush, how to hide, her prey drive is real – she eats whatever she can catch, and caught a dove not too long ago. She is also incredibly social and playful. Super social with other dogs regardless of size or type. I love my cats, I hope we got the malamute young enough that she will be able to internalize an understanding of cats as non-food items.


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