Malamutes and Cats

     In the never-ending battle between cats and dogs, many homes have been able to create a peaceful co-existence between the two.  Malamutes present a bigger challenge and it will take some real effort on your behalf to achieve that result.

     Malamutes have a strong prey drive and it includes cats.  Smaller, fast-moving things (like cats) will drive your Malamute crazy and send it galloping through the house with reckless abandon.  The end result is often a Malamute with a scratched up nose that it seems to not even be aware of and an emotionally traumatized tabby who has just fought off a furry garbage truck with teeth.  The worse-case scenario is someone (usually the cat) gets seriously injured and that should never happen.

     Is there hope?  Absolutely.  If you watch social media, you see all kinds of strange animal relationships.  Lions adopting baby lambs, cats befriending rats, baby elephants being raised by penguins (okay, I made that up), anyway, you get the idea.  It’s down-right apocalyptic.  So the possibility of Malamutes and cats living together in some type of mutual détente can and very often, does happen.  I have a giant Malamute (Leela) and she co-exists with our two cats, Tasha and Gypsy.  Two years in and so far, no casualties.  That being said, Leela loves to chase Tasha and gets a little rough sometimes.  Gypsy, however, has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with and is given wide berth.  Now with our new puppy, Buddy, the learning process begins again (the cats are thrilled).


     We have always had cats and dogs without too many conflicts and I believe it’s because we usually brought in puppies to a house with mature cats or vice versa.  I don’t believe that combining mature cats with mature dogs works out well as most are fairly well set in their ways, but bringing in infants into a house with mature pets doesn’t seem be too big of a problem.  Of course, getting kittens and puppies at the same time and letting them grow up together is the best of all situations.

     Anyway, if you are bringing a Malamute puppy into a home with cats, there are some things you can do to create an environment that promotes acceptance.  First, accept the fact that cats simply will not like the puppy and will have to be convinced to accept it, so you will have to work with the puppy to behave properly.  I have listed some tips that have worked for me so far.

Supervise the introductions and early encounters.

  • If you crate your puppy, place objects with the cats scent on it, inside the crate. This reinforces the fact that your cat(s) are part of the pack.

  • Don’t force the cats to interact with the puppy. Allow them to discover each other without force.

  • Make sure the cat(s) have a place they can get to that the young Malamute cannot enter.

  • Watch your energy when the two are in the same room. Malamutes are very sensitive to your emotional status.  If you get anxious, so will they and it could trigger aggression.

  • Avoid placing the dog’s food bowl anywhere near where you feed the cats.

  • Reward your dog with petting and praise when it behaves properly around the cat(s).

  • This may seem silly but don’t buy dog toys that look or sound like cats.

     Given proper supervision, rewarding, and time there is no reason that you cannot achieve a reasonably peaceful home, but don’t expect them to become besties.

     In a situation where you are bringing in a mature Malamute (or any dog for that matter), it is best to know its background.  Mature dogs are less likely to accept cats as housemates so there could be some real problems there.  Rescue dogs coming into a home with issues has disaster written all over it.  Of course, there are always exceptions.

     On a final note, Malamutes have strong pack mentality.  The more you play into that by socializing your Malamute with the family and cat(s) together the less issues you will have.  In the wild, packs and prides have similar social functions and behaviors.  Your goal should be to create an environment for your Malamute that presents the cat(s) as members of the pack.  Of course, the cat(s) may have other ideas but that’s what makes them cats.

Let’s hear from you.  What are your experiences?

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