They fight like cats and dogs. It’s an old saying and easy to understand. We naturally assume we should keep cats and dogs apart. But some dog breeds co-habit completely well with cats while some others definitely do not. Of course, you’re here to find out if whippets and cats can co-habit.
What follows is my take.
As a Whippet owner I understand why you’d consider bringing a Whippet into your home. I mean, just look at photos of whippets… why wouldn’t you? Perhaps one thing holding you back might be existing pets you have, especially cats.
In this post I’ll talk about what I found out before we took our Whippet Misty into our home. I’ll also tell you about our experience of mixing whippets and cats.
Hopefully this will help you make a balanced decision on whether to take on a Whippet if you already have a cat.
Table of Contents
- A Note on Sighthounds
- Training Whippets to Live with Cats
- Our Experience of Whippets and Cats
A Note on Sighthounds
Whippets are Sighthounds. Historically many sighthounds were bred to enhance speed and develop their instinct to chase smaller animals for hunting.
Although Whippets are domestic pets, the sighthound instinct to chase smaller creatures is strong in Whippets. This is especially true when those smaller creatures start running!
I’ve seen this many times with anything that moves suddenly and quickly… and not just cats and other small animals.
Sighthounds just can’t help themselves. Indeed my Whippet has reacted to cyclists that have suddenly caught her attention!
Want to know more about Whippets? Check out my Whippet dog breed information page to find out everything about this lovely creature!
Training Whippets to Live with Cats
There are many online pet forums where owners have discussed Whippets and cats living under the same roof. So I know it’s possible for Whippets and cats to live together without problems.
Many of these people have extensively trained their Whippets to accept cats. They’ve managed to teach them not to react when their cats move around the house.
It’s perhaps easiest to train a Whippet pups to live peaceably with cats. We know that young dogs are more able to adapt to training and the rules of the house when they first arrive.
It’s more difficult to train mature Whippets though… not impossible, but more of a challenge for sure.
Either way, you’ll have to be very regimented in your training
Outside of the home is a different matter though. If you have a cat that runs around in your garden you’d have to take real care if your Whippet is outside at the same time.
Many owners who have managed to “cat train” their Whippets still recommend you never leave them at home together alone.
Even though Whippets can be well trained, they might still go into chase mode. As a consequence you have to be careful.
Natural instincts are hard to overcome.
Our Experience of Whippets and Cats
Our Whippet came to us at around 8 weeks old. At the time we had a mature cat called Pixie.
Our cat most certainly did not warm to a little Whippet trying to play with her and she was very wary.
Misty on the other hand was delighted to have a larger plaything in the house. She often wanted to chase around after her for fun.
However… Pixie the cat always kept her distance from Misty the Whippet!
We worked diligently to train Misty not to chase our cat, but it was tough. Misty could never quite contain herself no matter how hard we tried to train it out of her.
Aware of the potential for Whippet and cat problems in our house, we installed a stair gate to prevent Misty chasing Pixie upstairs. Pixie spent most of her time upstairs and so we felt comfortable that we only needed to be super vigilant downstairs.
If we ever had to go out and leave Misty at home, we always kept her in her crate. This gave us confidence that she wouldn’t terrorise Pixie in the downstairs area if we weren’t around.
As time passed though, the crate in itself became a problem (I’ll write a post about this later). Despite trying to train Misty over many months to ignore Pixie, we just couldn’t dampen her Sighthound instincts.
Our Whippet pup was growing larger and becoming much faster. She also couldn’t stop herself from chasing the cat. We knew there was going to be a devastating problem at some point.
Find out more about Sighthound breeds.
As a consequence we had to make a sad decision.
Since some friends of our were looking to rehome a cat we asked if they’d consider Pixie. They were delighted and so Pixie moved in with them. She still lives with them and we still see her, which makes our daughters happy.
We were distraught about making this decision, but our experience of whippets and cats together showed us it wasn’t going to work out well.
Though we still miss our Pixie, we felt we had made the right decision at the time.
Having gotten to know many Whippet owners since Misty came along, I know Whippets and cats can live together. However, most of these owners have told us they never totally relax and always keep an eye on their Whippets when their cats are around.
Our experience is not the as everyone else’s because many owners have cats and Whippets living together without problems.
However, our experience also showed us that Whippets struggle to resist their urges and can find it difficult not to chase a cat that lives in the same home.
Having said this, I also know that all dogs are individuals. One Whippet can be successfully trained to live with cats, while another may simply find it impossible.
If you intend on homing Whippets and cats together, you’ll probably find it easier to train a Whippet pup to co-habit more readily. Adults Whippets will likely take more time and consistent reinforcement training to avoid issues.
For us, a Whippet and cat combination did not work out. That’s not to say it won’t work out for you.
However, even if you can train your Whippet to ignore their “cat trigger”, I’d always advise you to take precautions to keep them apart if you’re not at home… and always be vigilant when you are.
Have you successfully kept Whippets and cats together? I’d love to hear your experiences. Please share them in the comments section below.
- Is the Whippet the Best Breed of Dog?
- 13 Reasons Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats!
- Why is Your Dog’s Nose Dry?
- Why Do Dogs Love Sitting on Your Feet?
- How Big Do Whippets Get?
- Why is My Dog Gagging So Much?
- What is a Longdog?
- Why Do Dogs Wink?
- Why Do Dogs Sleep on Their Backs?
- What is a Whippet Lurcher?
Rich Carlson says
We’ve had greyhounds so I can appreciate the common praises you state, but in Northern Minnesota where we live these little guys would become popsicles in just a few minutes. We now have a “Plott hound”. They are similar in size, somewhat sturdier, and much less fragile than whippets. Bottom line, unless you want to required a winter wardrobe for your pooch, IN MINNESOTA, stick with a sturdier example.
Agreed Rich… Whippets are not good cold weather dogs. Mine has literally just refused to go out for a walk around the block in the snow we had yesterday!
Good to read this thread. We have a 6 yr old Husky Samoyd rescue, a ten year old rescue cat and introduced Stan age 11 weeks. That was 6 months ago. It started off well. Cat and pup sleeping on my bed together but something changed with him, started chasing… the cat has pretty much left home… she wont stay in the house. So sad about this as is my teen daughter too. We are hoping he will settle down a bit as he matures. Any tips?
Ahhh that’s upsetting Jul. You’ll have seen we made the painful decision to re-home our cat, which still upsets everyone when thinking about it. We still see her though as she went to live with friends of ours and is very happy.
I have had my Whippet since 8 weeks old and we already had a shy cat. She did not like him and resorted to upstairs, however over time and forcing her to come down stairs by closing doors she has learnt to tolerate our Whippet. He is quite interested in her and would like to sit with her but any time he gets too close she will swipe so he knows to leave her alone.
He’s two now and they will sit on the same sofa at either end and sunbathe in the garden together. All depending on the cats mood… if she doesn’t want him close she lets him know and he obeys! She has a cat flap and can come and go as she pleases. He will try and chase any other cat outside though but he knows our cat is the boss in this house and won’t chase her!
Martyn Webb says
i have had whippets for many years showed them raced them. i have kept them along side chickens and sheep with no problems. The problems usually arise due to age. If the dogs see any other animal as part of there pack things are much easier.
Yes I agree that age probably makes a big difference. For us though, we had Misty as a puppy and sadly she never got used to the idea that our cat was a part of the pack.
No dog has ever caught my dog, she loves being chased. Where do you race them please?
They are super-fast aren’t they Lynn… and a real pleasure to watch. Mine’s the same, but I don’t race her.
Tom Nanes says
I live with a 5 year old whippet mix and 4 cats . Sunny sleeps on my footstool if one particular cat Ms. Bipolar makes a dash to her food bowl . Sunny can be sound asleep , he is like a drag strip racer, 0-60 in 2.1 seconds. We have tile floors he screams across the living room and skids into the dinning room chairs as he bounces off of them , regaining his balance as the cat races down the steps . When I take him to lure coursing he has caught the lure several times. If the lure breaks he runs the course anyways. Many times his second and third runs are faster times than his first one. Keeps life interesting living with a lunatic. Tom
Wow… four cats and a Whippet Tom! They are lunatics aren’t they… but so loving and faithful, even if they don’t listen when they are in chase mode! My Whippet is very similar, skittering around on painted floorboards to get to the front door when the doorbell rings!
Thanks for your comment… it made me smile!