Huskies aren’t a dog breed for beginners as they are incredibly energetic, strong, intelligent, and instinct-driven. While they can be challenging, they are also very beautiful, loyal, affectionate, and fun.
Cats are also a great companion, so many people wonder if they can have both. While the short answer is yes, the long answer involves a lot of time, commitment, and energy.
Read on to discover why huskies aren’t naturally good with cats and how you can change their behavior through committed training.
Are Huskies Good with Cats?
Given that huskies are one of the strongest dog breeds, how they get along with the other animals in your house is a crucial consideration before buying one. Because of Huskies’ prey-driven instincts, they are generally dangerous to cats – especially if not introduced correctly. Here are the main reasons why Huskies aren’t known to be good with cats:
High Prey Drive
Huskies were originally bred in Siberia (hence, Siberian huskies) among the Chukchi people. They were bred to use there as a companion for hunting and pulling hunting sleds. Huskies developed an instinct to chase prey throughout this time, as that was their primary job.
Additionally, when not helping the Chukchi people, it’s often believed that the Huskies were left to hunt for themselves. Because of this, the Husky grew into a hunting dog.
Independent and Stubborn
When huskies were used as hunting dogs, they often had to make quick, instinctual decisions to catch the prey. This meant that Huskies had to independently make choices without the help of their owner. Over time, the breed turned into one of the most independent dogs.
If their prey-drive kicks in, it’s going to be hard to change their behavior – thus, leading to a dangerous situation for your cat.
In addition, Huskies are pretty stubborn. While it’s not impossible to train them, they don’t make changing their behaviors easy.
Strong Bite Force
Even if the Husky doesn’t mean harm, it can easily hurt or even kill a cat. Out of all dogs, Huskies have the 13th strongest bite force. While not inherently aggressive, Huskies have an abundant amount of energy. Combine that energy with their bite and prey drive, and you can get a fatal consequence for the cat.
Even though Huskies aren’t naturally good with cats, not all hope is lost. Read on to discover ways to raise a Husky and cat together.
How to Raise Huskies and Cats in the Same Household
Although raising a cat and Husky together isn’t the most straightforward process, it isn’t impossible either. Many people have made the combination work through hard work, patience, and determination. Here are the ways to raise Huskies and cats in the same household:
1. Bring them home together.
The easiest way to train a Husky and cat to get along is to get them both when they are a puppy and kitten. This strategy provides clean slates for behavior alteration and allows you a lot of time to work with both the puppy and kitten.
Secondly, raising the two together creates a strong bond between the two animals. Once a Husky thinks the cat is part of the pack, it won’t treat it as prey. In addition, you’re much more likely to treat someone better if you think they’re a part of your family.
Raising the two together also removes any territorial behavior that may lead to fighting between the cat and Husky. If neither of the animals has a claim over the territory, they are much more likely to get along.
2. Learn their behavior.
Just like humans, all Huskies have unique personalities. While some Huskies may be more prey-driven, stubborn, and independent, others may not. The same principle goes for your cat. While some cats are more likely to stand up to a 50-lb bully in the house, others may have more of a flight response. Learning what behaviors the two animals have will allow you to mold the training around the animals’ specific needs.
If you want a Husky and cat to live in the same household, you will also want to learn about prey-drive behavior. Understanding the behavior allows you to stop and correct it before it leads to a more severe issue. The seven steps of a prey-drive behavior are: searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing, and eating.
3. Take the introduction slowly.
Whether you are raising both the Husky and cat together or not, you need to introduce the two very slowly. If you start the interaction between the two of them on a good note, you are more likely to progress more successfully and quickly.
A baby gate should be placed between the Husky and the cat during the first visit. That way, if the interaction does start to go sour, either party can separate themselves. Having a baby gate also allows you to control the visit and monitor the behavior of both animals. During this time, you should have the husky on a leash too. The last thing you want is for your husky to leap over the baby gate and reach the cat.
Next, you can start to feed them on both sides of the baby gate. In this instance, both animals will learn to go about their regular business with the other around. If done correctly, it can also establish that your cat is the top dog (read further down).
You also want to allow your cat the freedom to sniff and investigate the dog without repercussions. To do this, place the Husky in a crate while the cat is out and about. That way, the cat can safely say hi to the Husky. This is important because cats take a long time to get used to change. So, the more opportunities you allow your cat to investigate the dog, the quicker your cat will become adjusted to this energetic, 50-lb change.
The Husky should always be on a leash during the first few weeks. Not only does this allow you to correct any bad behavior quickly, but it also keeps the interactions safe. After the first month, you can probably introduce the two without any barriers. However, this highly depends on both the Husky and the cat’s demeanors.
4. Wear your Husky out before an interaction.
Did you know that an adult Husky needs at least 2 hours of mental and physical stimulation per day? That’s a lot of energy in one dog. This energy can be transferred to your cat as either playfulness or aggression if it’s not taken care of.
Physical energy can be anything that gets their cardiovascular system working for an extended time, including hikes, runs, playing fetch, or dog parks. Keep in mind that their mental energy also needs to be taken care of. Mental stimulation can be in the form of allowing your husky to take smell breaks during hikes, giving them puzzles or puzzle toys, or working on their training.
No matter how you exercise your Husky, the end goal is to have the dog relaxed when they meet your cat.
5. Train your Husky the “ignore” command.
One of the best ways to get your Husky and cat to get along is to teach your Husky the “ignore” command.
To do this, grab some treats and have your Husky walk past the cat without any interaction. Once your Husky successfully does so, give the Husky a treat while saying, “good ignore.” The Husky is likely to associate ignoring the cat with treats, so it will leave it alone.
Once this behavior is established, keep treats on you or accessible in your living area. Every time the catwalks past the Husky without being bothered, give a reward to your Husky. Remember always to say “ignore” or “good ignore” so that the Husky learns the command.
Another command to teach your Husky is “play nice.” That way, every time your Husky plays gently with your cat, they receive a treat. After a while, the Husky will associate that playing gently with the cat gets them a treat, and they will perform that behavior more often.
6. Supervise encounters.
For a long time, encounters between the two animals will need to be supervised. After the first month, it may seem like the problem is solved. However, various, simple movements can often spark instinctual behaviors. Because this behavior is so deeply rooted, changing it takes time.
For at least the first month, you should supervise all encounters. If you have to leave both at home, it’s best to either crate the dog or create a separation between the two animals.
7. Give both animals attention.
Huskies are extremely affectionate dogs. Therefore, it can be easy to forget the cat. However, doing so may create animosity between the two animals.
First, cats are very jealous animals – especially if they’ve been the only animal in the house. Cats are also ones to hold grudges. So, if adding a Husky to the pack means less attention for them, they are likely to act spitefully to the Husky.
In addition, giving your cat love and attention will teach the Husky that the cat is part of their pack. Therefore, they won’t treat the cat as prey, but more like family.
8. Feed your cat first.
Like other dogs, huskies are very used to the pack mentality. Using this as a training mechanism is a great way to combat their instinctual behavior. Feed the cat first when your cat and dog are eating on separate sides of a baby gate. In the Husky’s mind, this behavior establishes dominance. The Husky thinks that since the cat eats first, the cat must be above them on the totem pole.
Having your Husky believe the cat ranks higher in the pack is excellent. Not only will your Husky likely treat your cat as one of the pack, but it might even treat the cat with some respect.
While this suggestion works really well for puppies and kittens, you need to take caution if you adopt an adult husky. Given some rescue dogs’ previous environments, some develop possession and aggression towards food. If your Husky exhibits this behavior, skip this step entirely as it may be dangerous for the cat.
9. Create high places for your cat to escape.
With or without a crazy Husky in the house, cats like high places. Like Huskies’ prey-drive behavior, cats instinctively like to be in high areas. Being above the rest of the room gives the cat a vantage point over its surroundings and allows it to protect itself better.
While this instinct definitely helps in the wild, it may also be helpful in a household with a Husky.
Giving your cats tall places around the house allows them to escape from the Husky in the instance that they feel threatened. If your Husky isn’t trained correctly, this may save the cat’s life. If your Husky is adequately trained, it still offers the cat refuge from a 50-lb energy ball – which may save the Husky from some swipes to the face.
In addition, high places give the cat a place to observe the Husky without having to interact. Cats are very attentive animals. If they can learn your dog’s behavior, they will feel more confident and relaxed around the dog. In turn, the prey drive in a Husky will turn way down – as it won’t have something running away from it.
10. Get a trainer.
Getting a trainer is probably the best advice for a situation as consequential as this one. Unless you’re getting both the cat and Husky at a young age, they will have established behaviors.
While you may be a great dog owner, understanding animals’ psychology takes much deeper practice and study. A dog trainer will isolate specific behaviors in your Husky that mirror prey-drive. From there, they can disrupt those behaviors through positive reinforcement training.
Are Huskies Good With Other Animals?
Since this article is largely focused on Huskies’ relationship with cats, it’s easy to believe that their prey drive is isolated to cats. However, this is not the case. Huskies are prey-driven when it comes to anything that resembles prey to them, so that includes:
- Birds (including chickens)
- Some reptiles
- Even some small dogs
If you have any of the animals listed above, your Husky may treat them as prey also.
It’s not always easy having a dog as intelligent, stubborn, and incredibly instinctual as a husky. Because of this, Husky parents have banded together for support. You can find support and helpful information on social media platforms, Husky forum groups, and rescue groups.
On these platforms, several Husky parents talk about their experience raising cats and Huskies together, what worked for them, and discuss common questions regarding the subject.
Huskies are a tough breed to raise, so it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in the journey.
The truth is that huskies aren’t naturally good with cats. However, that doesn’t make the feat impossible. Because Huskies are the 14th most popular breed, there are so many resources for Husky parents looking to raise a cat and Husky in the same household.
The main ideas to remember while training your Husky to be friendly to your cat are:
- The process takes time. It certainly won’t happen overnight, so remember to be patient with both animals.
- It’s important. For the safety of your cat, adequately training your husky is a must-do.
- You’re not alone. There are so many others that have gone through the same process, and there are numerous resources to help.
Following the steps in this article will lead to a happy, healthy household where you get to enjoy the love of both animals.
Header Image from gyda_and_cotton on Instagram.