Cat Safeness

An actual Greyhound training lure from National Greyhound Association catalog. Meow!  

Cat Safeness - What's it all about? If you've been researching Greyhounds as pets, you know that we make a pretty big deal about 'cat safe' versus 'not cat safe'. What does it mean to you, the adopter?

First and foremost, Greyhounds don't have a corner on the market of cat-chasing. Dogs chasing cats is an old cliché. However, Greyhounds are fast enough to catch 'em! All of our available hounds are cat-tested. This consists of taking a leashed and muzzled Greyhound into a room where there's a cat. Generally we'll get one of the following three reactions:

Cat Safe
The Greyhound will look at the cat, show no interest and start exploring the rest of the room. When the cat is allowed to walk around, the Greyhound will acknowledge the cat's presence (a mild glance, maybe a half-hearted sniff) but will not attempt to grab or chase. This is what we would categorize as 'cat safe'. These hounds have very low prey drive and may not have been very good racers. About 25% of Greyhounds fit this description.

Cat Curious
The Greyhound sees the cat, takes an interest and moves toward the cat. They get a big NO KITTY and leash jerk, and maybe a good hiss and swat from the kitty. If the Greyhound backs off (oftentimes they're positively traumatized and won't even look at the cat after that) we consider them 'interested but trainable', aka 'cat-workable'. These Greyhounds will need initial supervision and correction, but can quickly learn that chasing the cat is not allowed. About 50% of Greyhounds fall into this category.

Not Cat Safe
The Greyhound sees the cat, turns into a cat-seeking missile and cannot be deterred with any amount of correction. These hounds are not trainable and will never be able to safely live with cats (in fact they are exactly what several thousand years' worth of breeders have been striving to produce!). About 25% of Greyhounds are in this category of 'not cat compatible', aka 'high-prey'.
Some common misconceptions are that a non-cat-safe hound cannot be around any small animals, and that you won't be able to take them out in public without a muzzle and a lawyer (some people even think they'll be dangerous to children). THIS IS NOT TRUE. Greyhounds are not bred or trained to be dog-aggressive (or people-aggressive!) and with a few early precautions, even the most non-cat safe hounds can and do live, play and otherwise form deep pack bonds with small dogs. If you have a dog under about 15 lbs it's still recommended that you do not adopt a high-prey Greyhound, but it's very rare that a Greyhound will pose a danger to other dogs of any size. High-prey hounds are not indiscriminate killers nor are they aggressive in a general sense. They learn that canines come in many shapes and sizes (but they'll always know that cats are something else entirely). It's very predictable that the cat-safes will always be adopted first. Some of the most wonderful, sweet pups will languish for months just because they've got the scarlet "Not Cat Safe" designation. The bottom line is that if you don't have a cat, you really won't know the difference. If your neighbor's cats are running loose and you think a cat-safe hound won't chase them, you're mistaken. Outside kitties (and squirrels, and rabbits, and the occasional bird) that come into any Greyhound's yard are tempting fate.