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Author Topic: My dog killed a kitten
wanderwoman
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I feel terrible about it. We have feral cats in the neighborhood and my dog has just killed one of the kittens, a little grey, long-haired one.

My dog is seven, a lab-chow mix, and has lived with cats all his life. We have a fenced yard and he never gets out of the fence except on a leash.

But the cats come into the yard and he has always wanted to chase them. I make sure to make a lot of noise whenever I let him out because I wanted to make sure they left the yard when he is out. I hoped this would never happen.

I know it's instinct and he can't really help it. It's also clear he knows how upset with him I am. He is slinking around the house and looking guilty.

Is he likely to try harder to do this now that he's done it once? He has killed mice before but never any other kind of animal.

My son is digging a hole right now to bury the poor kitten. I feel so bad about it and just needed to vent right now. I'm sure it's wild and therefore nobody's pet, and I'm glad about that, at least.

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candycane from strangers
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I know how you feel, wanderwoman. My older dog killed a mama bunny and (we think) five babies that lived in our yard when she was younger and could still see. She never did try again after that, even when bunnies were right outside the fence though.

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wanderwoman
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Thanks, candy, it's reassuring to know she didn't try it again. I hope that will be the case for my dog also.

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Venus
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Oh god, that's horrible. I once had some dogs rip a cat to shreds in my front yard. None of the animals involved belonged to me ( my cats are indoor only ) but imagine my joy upon finding the remains the next morning. Also one of my cats may have seen the incident, she was super clingy to me for the rest of the day.
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MaxGunnar
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Your dog is a predator; there is no genetic difference between your pupper and canis lupus lupus. At his age it would be very difficult to train him not to go after prey or competitors . I’d suggest calling your animal control office to set humane traps for the feral cats. I’d also check the neighborhood to make sure you don’t have a “crazy cat lady” around
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wanderwoman
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quote:
Originally posted by MaxGunnar:
Your dog is a predator; there is no genetic difference between your pupper and canis lupus lupus. At his age it would be very difficult to train him not to go after prey or competitors . I’d suggest calling your animal control office to set humane traps for the feral cats. I’d also check the neighborhood to make sure you don’t have a “crazy cat lady” around

The lady who lives behind me feeds the cats, though she doesn't allow them in the house or provide them with medical care. I know she means well but this is the result, and I find it really upsetting.

I live in a suburban area, and I will call our local humane society to see if I can get them to set humane traps, but they are probably too stretched to make a big effort in that regard outside of city limits. But thanks for the suggestion, that may be a possibility I hadn't thought of.

I know you are right, he is a predator, and though I have tried to teach him to be gentle that only goes so far. It's clear that he understands that I strongly disapprove of what he has done. His behavior shows me that.

I found him as a young pup, and probably wouldn't have chosen a chow mix for a pet. My understanding is that chows tend to be territorial and protective, and that has come in handy at times! Though it has also caused some problems, as I have to be very careful how I introduce new people to him.

But he was an accidental dog and he is very lovable, so I have done the best I can to teach him not to be aggressive and to keep him confined and supervised. I can't really blame him for doing what comes naturally, but I sure wish this hadn't happened.

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MaxGunnar
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I’ve four German Shepherd Dogs that are trained in either agility or protection, what that means is that the errant squirrel or bunny is going to be a yummy snack. But when they’re working, bolting after a small furry critter is forbidden. I started training to this when they were puppies. When you get your next dog you might want to get some training from the SPCA or a dog club. It is well worth the time and effort. And loads of fun for you and your pupper as well :]
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lazydogweb
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I've a chow-lab mix on accident as well. Great dog like you said, but you do need to be careful. If you said that he got the cat inside "his" territory, you can't really blame him. As a side note, my chow-lab is a GREAT mouser, but he won't go after anything OUTSIDE his fence. We've got 90 acres, 1 of which is fenced in for the dogs. They can roam when I'm home and doing things outside (roam inside our 90), and he has NEVER caught anything outside that 1 acre fence. I think that's all part of the territory thing. He doesn't realize there's another 89 that's "his" because he's to old to patrol the whole thing. Hope that helps.

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wanderwoman
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quote:
Originally posted by lazydogweb:
I've a chow-lab mix on accident as well. Great dog like you said, but you do need to be careful. If you said that he got the cat inside "his" territory, you can't really blame him. As a side note, my chow-lab is a GREAT mouser, but he won't go after anything OUTSIDE his fence. We've got 90 acres, 1 of which is fenced in for the dogs. They can roam when I'm home and doing things outside (roam inside our 90), and he has NEVER caught anything outside that 1 acre fence. I think that's all part of the territory thing. He doesn't realize there's another 89 that's "his" because he's to old to patrol the whole thing. Hope that helps.

You've nailed it, I think. Anything inside his fence he thinks he has to go after.

I can't really blame him, but I sure wish it hadn't happened. I'm considering not letting him loose in the yard anymore. Maybe it's just walks on the leash from now on. He wouldn't mind that, he loves to go for walks.

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MaxGunnar
Deck the Malls


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If your yard is fenced I wouldn't confine him on the off chance something near the bottom of the food chain wanders in. But if you can give him regular excercize it would keep him healthy. The two ball game works really well for the puppers that like to chase things, it works for me because of my bad knee and fat butt.
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wanderwoman
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I talked to a friend who has had a lot of experience with the local Humane Society, and she said if the Humane Society gets involved they would most likely trap the cats and have them euthanized, because they are feral. So it seems like a matter of either killing them now or chancing that they will die a horrible death later. [Frown] Meanwhile, though, they are reproducing and the problem is getting worse.

She suggested calling the Humane Society anyway to ask them about programs for low-cost spaying and neutering. She said some people trap feral cats, get them spayed or neutered, then re-release them. The idea is to cut down on the number of feral cats over time without actually being the instrument of death.

Of course, what happens if you trap a cat and can't tell if it belongs to somebody? And how would I know if it were already neutered? I'm not sure I have the resources to take on a project like that.

Plus, what if I start to feel responsible for those wild kittens after they've been neutered and end up being the crazy cat lady mentioned a few posts ago? [Eek!]

I'm going to have to do some thinking about this before I decide what to do.

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Noemi
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You might want to check Ally Cat Allies and see if they have any affiliates in your area. Their goal is to foster trap-nueter-return programs for feral cats to reduce the populations without resorting to euthanasia. (edit: They may be one of the groups your friend was thinking of.)

Noemi

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wanderwoman
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quote:
Originally posted by Noemi:
You might want to check Ally Cat Allies and see if they have any affiliates in your area. Their goal is to foster trap-nueter-return programs for feral cats to reduce the populations without resorting to euthanasia. (edit: They may be one of the groups your friend was thinking of.)

Noemi

That does look like what she was talking about, Noemi. There isn't anything near me, but I will call and see what the Humane Society knows. Maybe there is somebody nearby who is not listed on the web site. Thanks!

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Xia
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Sorry to hear that... I know it can be very upsetting. A dog I was taking care of killed a baby possum in my yard and that was upsetting enough!

A friend of mine has a Husky/Shepherd/APBT mix who has a very high prey drive. She had gone after cats in the yard in the past... The worse thing was when her dog somehow got into the cage of her pet rabbit and guinea pig (despite the cage being kept inside another crate for safety) and killed them both [Frown]

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Jenn
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quote:
Originally posted by wanderwoman:
So it seems like a matter of either killing them now or chancing that they will die a horrible death later.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that a lot of these cats may be sick and being euthanized may be the kindest thing for them. These cats have a low life expectancy and many will have unpleasant deaths for a huge number of reasons - predators, disease, and starvation are the big ones. A lot of the cats may be malnourished and disease spreads like wildfire through feral cat colonies; the Humane Society here was left with no choice but to euthanize 100-200 cats in about 4 days because of a particularly bad epidemic of feline leukemia.

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wanderwoman
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quote:
Originally posted by Jenn:
quote:
Originally posted by wanderwoman:

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that a lot of these cats may be sick and being euthanized may be the kindest thing for them. These cats have a low life expectancy and many will have unpleasant deaths for a huge number of reasons - predators, disease, and starvation are the big ones. A lot of the cats may be malnourished and disease spreads like wildfire through feral cat colonies; the Humane Society here was left with no choice but to euthanize 100-200 cats in about 4 days because of a particularly bad epidemic of feline leukemia.
Yes, I realize that's a possibility. Though this particular colony (at this time anyway) is probably healthier than some because there is more than one person in the neighborhood feeding them and my neighborhood is a cul-de-sac on a peninsula of the river, so the same group of cats tends to stay in this area and not wander off to interact with others.

That doesn't mean that disease couldn't be introduced by wild animals and the situation could change tomorrow. I have cats of my own (though they never go out), so that could put them at risk. Or some of the people who currently feed the cats could leave or die, and food would be more scarce.

The page Noemi linked to indicated that Alley Cat Allies promote not only spaying or neutering, but also medical exams and shots before re-releasing the animals. I hope they would also humanely euthanize animals that show signs of suffering disease when they are captured.

They also recruit people in the neighborhood to watch over the colony after they are re-released. So maybe I could help the cats out without becoming the crazy cat lady.

Or is that the definition of a crazy cat lady? [Big Grin]

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erwins
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There's a local feral cat coalition here that traps, neuters and spays, and releases. They also clip the tip of one ear so that they can tell which ones have already been altered. If they can get kittens when they're young enough, they can be fostered and adopted.

As far as letting your dog out in your yard vs. keeping on a leash at all times -- what if you just go out with him or before him and do a quick walk around the yard to ensure all the cats leave, then let him out. I know you said you make noise before letting him out, so maybe just take it a step further. Otherwise, I'd keep him on a leash. (Mostly because I'm both a dog and a cat person, and I would be devastated if it happened to another kitty). Obviously, it's your call to make with your dog.

erwins

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wanderwoman
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quote:
Originally posted by erwins:
There's a local feral cat coalition here that traps, neuters and spays, and releases. They also clip the tip of one ear so that they can tell which ones have already been altered. If they can get kittens when they're young enough, they can be fostered and adopted.

As far as letting your dog out in your yard vs. keeping on a leash at all times -- what if you just go out with him or before him and do a quick walk around the yard to ensure all the cats leave, then let him out. I know you said you make noise before letting him out, so maybe just take it a step further. Otherwise, I'd keep him on a leash. (Mostly because I'm both a dog and a cat person, and I would be devastated if it happened to another kitty). Obviously, it's your call to make with your dog.

erwins

That's an idea. Possibly I could do that in the daytime and keep him on a lead at night (there are corners of my yard I can't see into at night).

I feel the same as you, I feel awful enough about this kitty and don't want it to happen again.

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Llewtrah
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There's a lot of propaganda that feral cats are always sickly and short-lived. If they are breeding out of control then they won't be healthy due to shortage of resources such as food and shelter and always fighting and mating. If they are neutered, they can have pretty good lives and can make it into double figures (Cat Action trust recorded a 19 year old feral female; Cats Protection shelter had a 24 year old male feral living on its grounds). You have to remember these are wild animals and subject to the laws of nature, that means not viewing them the same way as a your lap-cats and not judging them by lap-cat standards.

The old approach of "better to euthanize now and save them suffering in later years" is pretty out-dated as people have come to realise that the same argument could be applied to every single wild animal and wild bird. Keeping the population down and removing diseased individuals is important, but where possible they should be respected as wild animals. That means they are also part of the food chain. A lot of problems occur because people can't view feral cats as wild animals.

Round here, I seem to be the crazy cat lady, but any feral or stray that sets up in my back garden gets neutered as well as food and shelter. So far several have ended up as my own pets or rehomed (strays that were tame enough) and a few got neutered and released. They do a great job keeping down the mice and pigeons.

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Vesta
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Unfortunitly, they also do a good job on the songbirds and small wildlife in the area. Wild cats can be devestating to the local ecosystem. It should be always kept in mind that despite the best intentions they aren't true wild animals, and they weren't meant to be.

Vesta

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KnightLife
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Better late than never...

My family had a Lab/Samoyed mix who *loved* to dig under the fences as a pup. Rather than be with her every minute, my dad rigged the clothesline with a chain with an attached clip. Open back door, grap the clip from the nail it was hanging on, clip to collar, let dog out. The line kept the chain from dragging too much on the ground and getting "fouled," and the choke collar taught her pretty quick that lunging was bad. She still had run room, slack in the chain to lay down with, and access to all her necessaries - but digging just made holes to nowhere.

While most new "visitors" to the yard were spooked by her tearing out after them, some of the cats and birds learned they were safe if they stayed this far out.... [Big Grin]

Of course, none of this saved the back door when she crashed through it trying to get inside to be closer to the cat she saw out front. [Frown]

KnightLife

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