Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cat Friendly Greyhounds....Is There Such a thing?

Both our greys have lived with cats, been tested with cats and have been found not to react. We have had a few cats sitting on the shed roof and still they haven't reacted. One of these cats sat there provocatively growling and swishing its tail and staring at the dogs, and they appeared not to be bothered by this. This has been a huge relief and so although I have never let the dogs go out into the garden unsupervised, I have let them go out into our very small back yard which you see here unmuzzled and off the lead.
On Monday afternoon this week, the dogs wanted to go out and shot downstairs, the kitchen door was open and I followed close on their heels, then before I had turned the corner and had a view of the whole garden I heard some terrible yelping and thought that perhaps one of the greys had injured themselves or something had fallen on them.

I looked to the corner of the garden and a cat had shot out of the bushes, it was the one who had been taunting them for a while, and it lashed out and got Lily's nose (hence the yelping) and later Dizzy's ear. I ran towards the dogs by which time they had got hold of the cat in an almighty fight. Most of the noise was Lily yapping and snarling at the cat, Dizzy picked up the cat in his mouth by the fur and shook it and dropped it and by that time I had screamed "LEAVE" and he dropped the cat as I hooked both collars and pulled the manic dogs into the house, all of us covered in blood and cat wee (the cat had let out its bladder at us) and I locked the dogs in the bathroom.

I then went into the garden where the cat had run into the corner under our table and was still growling and snarling so I couldn't get a good look at the underside of it but I could see a bit of fur missing from its back, it had ripped out when Dizzy picked it up but I could find no bite marks on the cat.

I then rushed in and examined the dogs, they had torn ears, scratches and Lily had a bite mark on the back of her leg.
I immediately called the emergency vet around who came in twenty minutes and picked the cat up. I was distraught because these two greyhounds do not normally chase animals and have been friends and lived happily with cats before.

LESSON LEARNED - There can be no such thing as a cat friendly greyhound if the cat surprises them or attacks them they will most definitely get hold of it. Whereas a normal dog is vocal and will chase a cat barking but not be fast enough to get it, a greyhound of course will silently go for a cat and catch it. My greyhounds were actually having a wee on the bush the cat came out of and of course, their instincts were to fight back and the cat came off worse.

I really don't feel this should be called a dog attack on a cat, I do feel it was a fight that broke out and obviously the cat had less defences.
I did the right thing and registered the cat under my name with the vet as it was not chipped and had no collar. I printed out over 50 posters and put them up and around the neighbourhood as well as through peoples doors. I paid £500 to the vet, to cover initial costs, although my dogs were not insured they are newly insured they were not covered for this (the policy doesn't take effect for 14 days anyway). the vet said that the incident was not entirely our responsibility and that paying the majority of the bill was a kind gesture and the right thing to do. Eventually the owner came forward, she didn't seem surprised or bothered, not half as much as I was but perhaps it was embarrassment.

The injuries to the cat were nil as far as biting goes, a bit of skin came off with the fur where it was picked up but it had a badly broken back leg. I didn't see the dogs touch the leg, and I was there and had hold of them within seconds, but perhaps the cat landed badly after Dizzy dropped it. The vet said it seemed strange that the cat did fight and didn't run away, she said it is possible that the cat was unwell or had a break already. She said not to blame myself, that these things happen even with cat friendly dogs. Dogs will not put up with a hissing, biting scratching cat that has been accidentally cornered and these attacks are nearly always associated with being trapped and hidden in bushes or undergrowth.

So, we are very shaken by this, found it hard to forgive the dogs and we have muzzled them every time they go outdoors, which seems such a shame in their own garden in summer. They are already restricted outdoors by being muzzled and on a short lead a lot of the time, rarely we let them off in a totally enclosed area with 2 or 3 other greyhound owners to guard the gate and help if there is trouble.
Lily got over the shock, despite being the most spooky greyhound but poor Dizzy, was too afraid to go in the garden after this and kept weeing in the house. now, he will go in the garden but keeps staring at the corners and jumping. In the house, something slid off the sofa after he went to bed and he yowled and yelped like he was badly injured as he was frightened. I think as well, they couldn't cope because my partner and I were upset about the incident and they could pick up that we were not pleased and greyhounds love to please. he is being a big baby and needs cuddles and reassurances which is he is getting.

They were just being dogs, that's all, and we have to learn and trust their instincts to guard against this, they can't be blamed.
We did our best to get over it, and lesson learned, we can't really trust them as such and precautions will have to be taken at all times. I have been told by another greyhound owner that if they had meant business, they would have bitten the cat, or torn it apart and I am grateful they didn't and the cat has gone home with a pinned leg, which we hope will mend.

However, it is really upsetting to think that the greys might live for another 10 yrs and will never be able to enjoy their own very small garden off the lead and out of a muzzle.
We are also going to try the following. We will cut back all undergrowth, bushes or anything which could hide a small animal. We will try to find some trellis that goes on the top of fences at an angle to stop animals jumping in, difficult though if they still get in and then can't get out so we will consider that too. We are also going to spray the bushes with a mist of water, or a gentle jet, and the vet said we could spray the cats gently if they come near the garden to try and discourage them. However, the Tom who fought with our dogs, was a real bruiser and totally fearless as we had tried to shoo him away before without success.

We are also trying to find a leather crafter who can make an extra strong collar especially for Lily, as the normal one she has still gives me the feeling she is going to slip out and she is very good at wiggling backwards to get out of it. We did find a fantastic leatherworker, but sadly, she took my requests about precautions with rivets and stitching and type of leather as an insult, in that I didn't trust her to get it right or do the job properly, so she has declined to take on the job. That is really sad because her Celtic work was spectacular and I was going to feature it on this blog. I apologised but she was really offended by my detailed instructions and won't reconsider, so if anyone has any recommendations of a similiar craftsman I would be most grateful.


Aoj & The Lurchers said...

To be honest, even if a greyhound is classed as cat-friendly, the rescue I volunteer for will ot guarantee that that cat-friendliness will hold true outside of the house with a strange cat. If the dogs are in your garden and a cat comes in, you cannot be held responsible, however you feel about it and I can understand it was a scary situation that you'd rather not repeat. Why not invest in one of those electronic gadgets that keep cats away? They really do work. As you say, it's not fair that your dogs cannot at least enjoy their own garden unmuzzled.

If you are concerned about backing out of collars, why not try a harness?

IHateToast said...

many greys will know their own cats, too. but others are 'fair game' in their mind. still. all animals have territory (the bi-peds, too) and we can't ask them to go against their nature.

i'm betting that eventually, the neighbourhood cats will learn not to stray in your home. also, terriers can catch and kill a cat in no time. maybe not as fast, but any other hound could do the same.

don't feel guilty. only humans act out of malice. dogs and cats just go around being dogs and cats.