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.
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Sighthounds just can’t help themselves. Indeed my Whippet has reacted to cyclists that have suddenly caught her attention!
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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.
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.