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I am beside myself and not sure what to do next. I came home today to find one of my cats dead. Shaggy was 10 years old, has been blind most of his life and my german shepherd, Otis, was raised with Shaggy and his brother from the time we adopted him at 8 weeks old. There were no real issues between these two before last year when Shaggy swiped and made contact with Otis after Otis started nosing him. The end result was that cat's rib was broken, I imagine from Otis picking him up and thrashing him. The cat healed and we started working with a trainer, and things got better. They stayed away from each other and things were ok. Recently, though, I've noticed Otis starting to nose Shaggy again while he was in his basket, but nothing major so I started reinforcing the 'leave it' command again. What I saw after realized what happened was horrific- there was fur everywhere, the cat had urinated (i'm sure in fear) all over the place (from fear, I'm sure), there was a small amount of blood along one wall. And the cat was drenched- i'm not sure how or why (saliva?). I'm just so sad and angry and disappointed...but also scared. Our other cat who isn't blind always kept his distance from Otis (but then again, he could see where otis was) And now we also have toddler grandkids that visit us. I'm worried about some kind of recently heightened prey drive?. Is he now considered aggressive? Is he unsafe? Any idea what might have caused him to lose his mind?? Its as if something snapped. Do we try meds? Rehome to a catless, kidless home? Will he do this again? I was so angry with him, I sent him downstairs and on his own, went into his crate and stayed there with the door open (he NEVER does that). So many thoughts, sorry if this is scattered. Is it possible he felt remorse for killing the cat he's known his whole life? He is slinking around with his ears down...or is that a response to my being upset? Calling our vet in the morning. As mad as I am, I can't imagine getting rid of him. I feel that would be the wrong move- I love this dog and I feel it would be unfair to him. But, I just can't believe this has happened. Thanks for any advice or feedback.
 

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First of all, so sorry that your kitty had to die. Dogs are animals with animal instincts and reflexes. How old is Otis? How does he respond to wild life? Otis has attempted this before only one year ago, but it was managed. You can't take away instinct and reflexes but you can manage and train them to prevent further incidents. I don't understand why you gave him still access to both cats. Dogs don't forget these attacks.
The reason that he didn't come out of his crate and sneaks around you is NOT remorse but a reaction to you who turned into a Cujo so he is avoiding you.
The cat kill was only that one moment for him. If you had found the cat and greeted him like you always do, he would have had a totally different response.
My two cents on how to go from here: keep the surviving cat away from Otis, at all times or rehome this kitty if you want to keep the dog. Cats are excellent temperament testers and the fact that he avoided Otis is the best indicator (we used a cat to test dogs in the shelter on cat reactivity during the temperament tests and that cat was always right).
Regarding the grand children, how often do they visit? If they come on a regular bases, I would ask a trainer to come to the house a few hours during your grand kids' visits so he/she can observe Otis' behavior around the kids and give you training advice. If they only visit a few times a year, would you consider boarding Otis?
I am sure both my dogs would kill cats. It is also the reason I didn't replace my pet rats. Even though I kept them in another room, I didn't want the stress of having to protect them at all times by keeping doors closed and the dogs sane.
Take care of your self, Otis and the other cat. Be your normal self to him.
 

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I doubt that this behavior toward cats would transfer to behavior toward kids, toddlers, infants.



But from what I have heard/read recommended on this site ----- dogs should not be left alone with young kids, toddlers, infants. I would see no point in having a trainer come unless it would make you feel better. I would make sure that the surviving cat always has an "out" , an access to a place that the dog cannot get. I would not leave them loose in the house together without humans at home. (But I don't do cats.)



While we can only speculate on what happened, the history is the cat swatted the dog, the dog took offense but was thwarted and things seemed OK. Then the dog went back to nudging the cat. Perhaps the cat then swatted the dog again & the cat's death was the result because no one was home, the dog had access to the cat, the cat had no escape (or didn't find the escape).



A friend of mine had an incident where the pet setter left the cats and dogs out. This was not supposed to happen and the result was two dead cats. However, unlike your situation, these were dogs and cats that were not supposed to be together at all.
 

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RIP poor kitty!

Please don't rehome your cat. Cats bond strongly with their people and a ten year old cat would be traumatized.

I recommend keeping the dog away from the cat. Confining a ten year old cat away from its family because a dog may be aggressive with it is very unfair to the cat.

Your dog gave you fair warning of what he would do to a cat. Relying on training to overcome the dog's instincts at the risk of your other cat dying a horrible death is not a good idea.

When you are not available or at night, you need to isolate your dog from the cat. Is your dog crate trained or do you have a room where you can keep him?
 
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I'm sorry for the loss of your cat. That's horrific.

To answer your question...No animal aggression does not equal aggression towards people.
Yes, bad things can happen if a large dog is in prey drive. So always supervise a dog around toddlers.

To address the question you didn't ask....it's not fair to your dog to be angry at him. You clearly saw the signs as you noted above and did not create a safe space for your cats. Please do so now. Hindsight can be a terrible lesson. Again, i am sorry for your loss but please understand the human role in this to prevent any further incidences in the future.
 

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One of the big reasons I don't like a leave it command for situations like that is that it's effectiveness is contingent upon someone being around and paying attention to actually give the command. The dog should have been punished for going near the cat to create an aversion to physical contact or showing too much interest to the cat. Then management should have been applied. Cat and dog should never be loose together when someone isn't there and paying attention to any interaction they might have.
 

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When it became clear that our big-boy was not afraid of cat claws, we made sure the cat had places to escape and when we weren't home, the then big pup was always crated. And he was crated at night so that the cat could wander freely. Then we moved and management was tougher so we assigned a room for the cat. The poor thing was safe but lonely. Since the cat knew our son well, he took her home. She now lives with two cat friendly dogs.

I'm sorry this happened at your home. My dog is great and I don't think he would attack a cat to kill it, but he does play rough and the size difference is just too great to take the risk. So we keep cats out of the home and my dogs are taught to ignore the ones we see while out walking.
 

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So sorry about your poor kitty..!! :-(
I don't want to imagine what it was like.

Will it happen again? Possibly...a line has been crossed in your dog's mind...

Does he feel remorse? I don't know, but he is showing that he knows you are very Angry!

Going forward? I think that IF keeping them both, you need to create separate Dog/Cat zones in the house. My friend does this - when nobody is home, cat is closed upstairs in a bedroom while dog is left out. (Cat has her litter box, toys, climbing tree, etc in there). When everybody is home, both dog and cat are downstairs (they rarely interact with each other). At night, dog stays in one of the girls' bedrooms, and cat is free...
 

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Yes, that is cruel to and the surviving cat had to watch its sibling mauled to death, don't think they don't know this, and that was very traumatic and cruel. Last in first out is the humane thing to do if one of the animals must go.
 

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But cats maul other small creatures to death all the time. Thats what traumatises me to see. We don't have cats. I'm not sure what Inga would do. If it ran she would go into rabbit mode.
 

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I owned a dog who would kill domestic animals, willing to take on animals his own size or bigger. He also lived in my home with cats.

I agree with Bailiff, I never used "leave it", I actually used no commands at all, he was just consistently punished for any interest in livestock. He was worked on a leash and in a muzzle for a long time until I was pretty confident in his responses. Then muzzle and no leash. In the end he could walk about freely on the farm with me with no leash and no muzzle and he knew the animals were off limits. After all the work I did on him he never had another kill.

He was never ever left unsupervised with any prey animal in his life. I even learned that he could tell if I was off my game. If I was sick and had taken Nyquil and I was slow-- he knew. I have absolutely no doubt if he had been left alone with a prey animal he would sport kill everything he could get. I never proofed him for thinking he was alone with them because it was just not a risk worth taking. It was enough that he could be out with me, that I could walk him around where we lived where there were tons of farms with other livestock that sometimes got out, and I knew if my neighbor's sheep ran out in the road I could call my dog off and he would not kill.

As long as he was alive I never kidded myself about what he was and what he would do.

For what it's worth, I would not trust a wire crate to keep the dog and cat apart when not supervised. A wire crate and a closed door maybe.

Don't kid yourself, don't think your dog won't kill your other cat. I would never ever leave this dog unattended even for a second with any prey animal.

My sister had a small toddler when my dog was in his prime and had recently killed a 60lb animal. I did make him wear his basket muzzle for a few days around the kid waiting to see if that spark ever lit in his eye over the small bipedal hominid. It didn't. I had the muzzle and he was trained to wear it so to me it seemed stupid not to to take every precaution. I knew just how fast and accurate that dog could strike and I had never seen him around a little kid.

My dog lived to a fairly decent old age and was euthanized due to cancer in our arms and he was a lovely family dog for years and years and never killed anything. It's possible if you are diligent and realistic.
 

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"I'm worried about some kind of recently heightened prey drive?. Is he now considered aggressive? Is he unsafe? Any idea what might have caused him to lose his mind?? Its as if something snapped. Do we try meds? Rehome to a catless, kidless home? Will he do this again? I was so angry with him, I sent him downstairs and on his own, went into his crate and stayed there with the door open (he NEVER does that). So many thoughts, sorry if this is scattered. Is it possible he felt remorse for killing the cat he's known his whole life? "

--Is he considered aggressive? Depends on your local laws. Where I lived with my dog, had the authorities known what he did, yes he would have been declared a "dangerous dog" by law. I don't think this has anything to do with aggression though, it's predatory behavior

--Is he unsafe? Well, yes. Toward your other cat

-What caused him to lose his mind? He didn't lose his mind. He just killed a prey animal, and there was plenty of notice that he would do that since he had already seriously injured the cat. Some dogs will do this. They haven't lost their minds. There was nobody and nothing to stop him, since he was alone with the cat. He didn't snap. Just the right trigger occurred with no supervision.

Rehome to catless kidless home? I wouldn't. I just feel like the information is never going to follow the dog the right way and somebody is going to make a stupid mistake down the road or the dog will be rehomed again without the proper info and some unsuspecting person will come home to something awful

Will he do it again? Under the same circumstances, if nothing changes, I expect he would.

Does he feel remorse? I am sure he doesn't. You are upset with him and he knows it.

Good luck. It's very upsetting. I've been there. This is my 2c for what it's worth
 

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Please stop humanizing your dog. It's a dog and it killed something. I don't mean to sound harsh, and I am sorry that the lesson was learned the hard way. If you need to blame the dog, please rehome it.
I have a dog with extreme prey drive. No small furred or feathered creatures allowed in my home. She adores kids.
If it were me I would provide remaining cat with raised platforms and an escape path. I used a kid gate that was about 8 inches from the floor across the spare room doorway. Bolted in place. And I would secure the dog in a crate behind a closed door when I was not home.
 

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Your dog should never be allowed to be unsupervised around your other cat from now on. muzzle train him and put it on when he is out with you and the cat when you are home, he must be crated during the night, when you aren't home, and when you can't supervise (having a shower, distracted working etc..) and for sure have a safe space for your cat that the dog can't get to, a spare room with a raised baby gate, many high places the cat can get to but the dog can't around the house. I also have a dog and a cat and I can't even imagine, my low prey drive lab who is a little afraid of the cat and has never shown interest in her has free range but any other in the house is never left alone with her if they have even looked at her in any interested way before. its horrific what happened to your cat I can't even imagine, so now it is time to make sure that never happens to your other cat, and I wouldnt recommend getting other cats after this one until this dog has past on. just my 2 cents
 

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But cats maul other small creatures to death all the time. Thats what traumatises me to see. We don't have cats. I'm not sure what Inga would do. If it ran she would go into rabbit mode.
I have seen you post too many times that your dog kills small animals too, not sure how that translates into making it okay for the cat to watch the sustained mauling of its life long sibling.
 

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This is traumatic experience coming home and finding this. I’m really sorry for the loss of your Shaggy. I agree with many of the posters and although you are going through every emotion it’s only normal to get mad but you have to realize when all is settled down it was not your dogs fault. There were big signs with the broken rib incident To separate them. I have know someone with a boxer and a friend has a pit mix and the dog killed their cat but they were sure to keep their other cat separated and has no issues the dog also good with their toddlers kids. Toddlers need to be supervised around large dogs even if they are their cats best friend and with great trust. Gates, ledges, cat kennels,cat doors and enclosed rooms as were mentioned will help keep your cat safe and not forever stressed. With your cat wanting to stay away from the dog makes it easier to keep them separated. Cats can live up to 20 years old plus but it is very difficult to rehome an adult cat and I don’t feel it’s necessary if you can safely separate your other cat.

We have a cat door to the basement where our cat who is on the spooky side likes to stay. she will sometimes come out at night when dogs are in my room. She does come around much which challenge to get them used to each other. I have 2 gsds one with a higher prey drive and a chihuahua they all get along good but when I leave the house just as a precaution I always crate my chihauha and close the doors to rooms that hold any small animals -guinenpig ,bunny bird.
 

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The other thing to think about is the age disparity...

if Otis is young and fast, and your cat is 10, just an escape path or a raised area may not be enough...
the cat may go to make that critical leap to safety, but miss...(my cat would occasionally miss his jump and need to a redo).
If only they really had Nine Lives.
 
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