Huskies are beautiful dogs. With their luscious thick fur and striking eyes, they are incredibly photogenic. They also retain a wolf-like appearance striking a chord with our more wild side. Who can deny seeing a photo of a gorgeous husky with a cute cuddly cat, something that seems quite contradictory, really warms the heart and makes you think that anything is possible?
Do huskies and cats get along? The good news is that it is possible to have a cat and a husky in your home together that can get along. However, there are some things that you need to seriously take into consideration first.
We have a black short-haired domestic cat called Pickles and a grey and white husky called Luna. Pickles was in our home already and we brought Luna home as a puppy. It took a lot of patience, training and a couple of years before Pickles and Luna were comfortable and calm enough to fall asleep in the same room as each other.
Huskies are very friendly, playful and can be very gentle. They can be stubborn with a strong independent streak but loyal to the human that they bond to. They also have a strong prey drive and can be very good hunters. These traits make them wonderful pets and a challenge to train.
The playfulness and strong prey drive are the traits that you have to be mindful of when considering having a husky and a cat in the same home.
Cats are small and fast. They dart around and can be playful when they feel like it. Unfortunately, a small animal darting around can excite the husky to either play with the cat, or it can trigger the huskies’ prey drive to hunt the cat.
You may think that it’s not such a bad thing if the husky decides to play with the cat. Afterall huskies LOVE to play. They are super friendly and playful.
What you need to remember is when huskies play together they are rough! Huskies are really mouthy when they play. They will grab each other’s necks and throw each other around, pull the legs from under the playmate. They roll each other over and body slam one another, often while running at a flat-out speed!
When Luna is playing with her brother it can look like they are being vicious. They aren’t though! Even though the teeth are showing, their faces are still quite relaxed, tails are curled, there is no real growling and it’s all bum bouncing movements. Nevertheless, if you didn’t know what you were looking at their play can look fierce. Many non-husky owners have given us a wide berth when they have been in full swing playing!
Now imagine them playing with a cat like that. Add into the mix that a cat has sharp claws, it will probably think that the husky is attacking it. A cat’s claws can do some serious damage to a dog’s eyes or nose. If the husky gets over-excited during play, which can happen, the play can quickly change from play to hunt. The cat won’t last long.
It is really important to teach the husky to be calm around the cat. You can’t ever allow the husky to chase the cat. Huskies love to chase, but the chase can trigger the prey drive.
Focus training is essential if you want to be able to have a husky and cat living together. To find out more about huskies playing check out my other article Husky Play – Learn How Huskies Play.
Prey drive is instinctive, your husky isn’t being bad it’s doing what nature intended. It catches the scent, hears movement, sees a quick movement and the chase is on! There is nothing a husky loves more than to run, chase, and be chased.
Even with smaller dogs, it is important to make sure that your husky is regulating its play. And if they are playing chase it’s a good idea to interrupt play if it looks like the chase is turning into a hunt. The excitement of the chase can sometimes trigger the prey drive.
The Huskies’ tale is a good indicator if the chase is a game or a hunt. If it’s playing it will have the distinctive curl, but if it’s hunting the tale goes straight like an arrow. Knowing your huskies’ body language is essential.
Most cats are not born dog lovers. Their instinct tells them that dogs are dangerous. Hiss, swipe, bite, do whatever it takes to get away from the danger. But some cats are timid, they will just run away. So your cat must also learn to be comfortable around the dog.
Training a cat is as hard as training a husky! A cat is naturally independent and will go wherever it wants to go and do whatever it wants to do.
Teaching the cat to be calm around your husky and not dart around will not be easy, but it can be done. This is going to be a 2 man job. One person keeping your husky on-lead and focused, and one person holding the cat and keeping it calm.
Both the husky and the cat should be able to see the other being petted – at the same time. This should be repeated for short periods over an extended time. After this, they should then see each other and be given treats and petting. Again this should be repeated over an extended time.
By repeating these steps, the husky sees that the cat is part of the family. Your cat sees that the husky is part of the family and is not trying to eat them. Over time they will choose to be in the same room as each other.
Luna had to have one of her eyes removed because of glaucoma. Pickles and Luna were apart for a week as I had to take Luna to England for her operation. When we came home, Luna was laying on the sofa resting and Pickles came home and lay on the sofa beside her. They lay beside each other for hours, it really was heartwarming.
To be able to have a husky and a cat living in your home, training is essential. The husky will definitely have to be trained to be calm around your cat and your cat will have to be trained to be confident around your husky.
Force-free positive reinforcement training is the way to go here. You want your husky to associate good feelings when your cat is around. Positively reinforcing a calm demeanor when your cat is around should equate to good things for your husky and will encourage calmness whenever your husky see’s your cat.
You do not want your husky to have negative associations with your cat, which could happen if you use aversive training methods. You definitely don’t want your husky to redirect negative feelings towards your cat.
Likewise, your cat can associate good things when your husky is around, rewarding calmness when they are together. Over time your cat will become more comfortable and confident around your husky.
Even now, whenever Pickles is getting treats Luna sits patiently waiting for her treats, it’s very sweet. We still reinforce this behavior. We believe that training should be on-going.
I have written another article on how to introduce dogs and cats into your home that you may find helpful. The steps are the same for huskies as for other dogs.
Happy husky & happy cat = happy home
To have a happy home for your husky and your cat, there are some points to remember.
- Prepare your home – make sure that your cat has an area where the husky cannot go.
- Proper introductions, in the beginning, will have better results in the long run.
- Focus training for your husky – calmness around the cat is essential.
- Calmness training for your cat – a calm confident cat will be safer around a husky
- Force-free positive reinforcement training all the way! Teach your pets that to be around each other calmly is rewarding
When you have your husky and cat are comfortable with each other, it is still inadvisable to leave them unsupervised in an area where your cat can’t get away.
It doesn’t matter how well trained your husky is, it’s prey drive will always be close to the surface and can activate unexpectantly. Or your cat can get fed up with the huskies exuberance and scratch causing damage to the eyes or sensitive nose area.
It’s a good idea to make sure that your cat has somewhere it can go to have some peace from your husky. No-one wants stressed out or hurt pets, so having a room or area that your cat can do but your husky can’t just make sense.
Our cat Pickles always enjoyed sleeping in our daughter’s bedroom, so we put a cat-flap in their door. When Pickles wants some alone time he just heads into their room and Luna can’t follow. Although, Pickles often sleeps in Luna’s bed in our bedroom and Luna lays on our bed near him sleeping. Always under supervision though!