Why Dog killed a cat Why did this happen?

Playfulness comes from their tendency to chase and catch things; however, there is no doubt that your dog is a natural-born hunter beneath that playfulness. Even when they are just playing, some dogs have a high prey instinct, so they are dangerous to cats. 

Even though most dogs do not chase cats, this usually occurs when they are trying to play. This, however, could prove to be dangerous. It’s possible for some cats not to understand that the dog is playing, so they might defend themselves by fighting or running away.

However, this will inevitably end in a fight that becomes violent, and in the majority of cases, dogs with strong chase instincts end up injuring cats.  As a pet owner, you can take steps to prevent dogs from chasing cats, as well as understand why it is so dangerous for cats.

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My dog killed my cat or my neighbor’s cat, why?

After their dog kills someone’s cat, it’s inevitable for dog owners to view their dog differently. During these times, there may be many thoughts going through the dog owner’s mind, such as, “Why did my dog do this? What happened exactly? Is this a sign my dog is aggressive? Does this mean my dog may decide to now kill other animals and dogs too? Are my children at risk now?”

The shock of owning a dog that has killed a beloved pet is often felt by dog owners. The whole experience can make dog owners feel like they own a monster because they are so distraught. There may even be a possibility that they will give up their dog or, in some severe cases, even euthanize him.

Getting a better sense of what likely happened is important before taking drastic measures and considering the dog evil. Various causes may have contributed to this behavior. Considering what happened before might give you some clues if you witnessed the behavior. Was your dog chasing the cat? Had the cat approached a resource too close to the dog? Was your dog’s property invaded by the cat? Did they play together?

As we move forward, we will take a closer look at some of the causes and tips for dealing with the situation so this won’t happen again. Seeing through the emotions and distancing yourself from the horrific event is the key to understanding what may have happened.

Dangerous Dog Actions

In general, “dangerous dogs” are defined as dogs that are dangerous to the public or other animals. Other animals may also be declared dangerous in some states. According to the “Definition” column in the table below, each state has its own definition of dangerous dogs.

Dangerous Dog laws might refer to dangerous dogs as “vicious dogs,” even though both terms refer to the same kind of behavior. In some states, vicious dog classifications may be used in addition to dangerous dog classifications to determine which acts are considered more serious. 

There may also be a potentially dangerous dog classification in a Dangerous Dog statute for acts or actions that are less severe than the dangerous/vicious dog classification. Some states have even lower classifications in their Dangerous Dog statutes, either “nuisance” or “menace” dogs.

The Process for Declaring a Dog Dangerous

Dangerous Dog statutes provide not only the definition but also the procedures for establishing whether a dog is dangerous, vicious, or potentially dangerous. An administrative, civil, or criminal hearing may be required to declare a dog dangerous.

Dogs can be declared dangerous in states like Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia using criminal proceedings. It is a crime in Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania to the harbor, maintain, or own a dangerous dog.

The determination is typically made by a local administrative body or municipal court. State courts can hear appeals from governmental decisions, as is the case in Illinois. 

A state’s “Procedure for Determination” column specifies how it determines if a dog is dangerous, vicious, or potentially dangerous if the state includes any provisions.

Consequences of a Decision

The owner of a dog that is deemed dangerous, vicious, or potentially dangerous typically has to follow specific safety precautions in order to reduce the chances of another person or animal becoming injured. 

Owners of dangerous dogs in Virginia must register their dogs on a web registry in addition to submitting the fees, confinement requirements, microchips, tattoos, leashes, and muzzles typical of dangerous dog ownership

Additionally, Pennsylvania has a webpage with a Dangerous Dog Registry. In Georgia, owners must refrain from selling or transferring ownership of vicious dogs unless the dog is being euthanized by a veterinarian or a governmental agency.

Generally, a potentially dangerous dog’s safety precautions are less restrictive than a dangerous dog’s. Each state’s “Conditions for Owning” column describes what restrictions it places on the ownership of a dangerous, vicious, or potentially dangerous dog if any.


The animal may die if the dangerous dog statute is violated. Euthanasia provisions usually apply to dangerous or vicious dogs that have attacked people or domestic animals, causing their death or serious injury.

Though a state, such as Washington, may have a provision mandating that a dog should be euthanized if its owner fails to meet ownership requirements. Debarkation of dangerous dogs is prohibited in Ohio; if an owner violates this provision, the dog will be destroyed. After an appeal period, all vicious dogs in Virginia, New Jersey, and Louisiana must be euthanized.

It may be possible to euthanize animals who violate a mandatory euthanasia law in one state but only on a discretionary basis in another state. In New Jersey, for example, if the owner fails to appear for a hearing, the dog may be euthanized. Unless the owner appears in court within five days after receiving notice, a dog in Tennessee will be euthanized.


Aside from losing the animal’s life, the owner could also be charged with criminal offenses, fined, prohibited from owning a dog, and incarcerated. Generally, dangerous dog statutes are penalized as misdemeanor offenses, but some states have felony provisions.

Most of these crimes are committed by dogs that have been previously labeled as dangerous or vicious, that attack a person, and that attack results in serious injury or death (see Florida, Nebraska, and Nevada below).

In addition, dangerous dog owners are also convicted of felony offenses when their dogs kill or seriously injure someone (see Illinois, Georgia, Ohio, and South Carolina below). In Oregon, any dog that kills a person is considered a felony, regardless of whether the dog is previously deemed dangerous.

In Michigan, a dangerous animal can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if it kills or seriously injures a person. Dangerous dogs previously determined to be dangerous are rarely charged with a felony unless they seriously injure or kill a domestic animal. If you attempt to sell, offer to sell, breed, buy, or try to buy a known dangerous animal in South Carolina, you commit a felony.

Understanding dogs’ psychology

Prior to being fed kibble from a shiny bowl and becoming domesticated, dogs were hunters at heart. Describe predatory behavior. Well,  it’s simply the ability of an animal to hunt, chase, and kill animals as part of its diet. All dogs possess this instinct. A dog’s predatory drive kicks in when he picks up a toy and shakes it or chases a ball.

The dog’s life used to be one of hunting and killing in the past. Ultimately, predatory behavior follows a pattern known as “fixed action patterns.” These patterns are stalk, chase, grab, bite, kill, dissect, and consume.

Many dogs, however, will not follow the full sequence. Dogs’ behavior will vary based on their genetics, history, motivation, and other factors. In contrast, if your dog chases a fleeing cat, the predatory drive will likely kick in, and he will pursue it. When your dog sees a moving object, he will likely chase it. Dogs have an instinctive desire to chase moving objects.

Upon spotting prey at a distance, a dog fixes his gaze on the source with his gaze. His ears are held upright, ready to catch even the tiniest sound, his body quivering and ready to spring into action. Therefore, if he sees something moving in the bushy area nearby, he is likely to take action and chase the prey. In a successful chase, the dog will likely bite down on the prey’s neck, then shake it.

A shake is a typical predatory behavior designed to quickly finish off a prey. Typically, you would not see any blood in such a situation, and the affected animals would remain intact.  To sum up, you must understand that dogs are not motivated by morals, but rather by instincts. As a result, when the dog is engaging in predatory behavior, it originates from the same part of the brain responsible for seeking behavior.

As animals seek out what they want, they are provoked by these circuits to exhibit curiosity, intense interest, and anticipation. It is a pleasant feeling, similar to the feeling a cat experiences when he kills a mouse.

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Taking advantage of fleeing cats by chasing and killing them

Considering the possibility that your dog chased a fleeing cat and ended up fatally wounding it, you have to consider the possibility that this is a completely normal behavior. You may think, “How can my dog behave so badly?”! I never thought it would be normal behavior!

The same thing happened to me when a kitten I gave my friend was killed by her neighbor’s Cirneco dell’Etna hunting dogs. I thought that those dogs were evil creatures who would kill any cat that crossed their path with their fangs.

Things look different to me today. People often mistakenly attribute human characteristics to dogs, a practice known as anthropomorphism. Just as killing mice is part of being a cat, dogs do not have moral values and act out of instinct, which is part of being a dog.

Trying to catch a fleeing cat (or squirrel, rabbit, or mouse) is just as normal as our ancestors learning to hunt and our food industry stocking meat departments in grocery stores so we can eat steak and ribs. As a result of the dog’s past, it is prone to chasing and killing fleeing animals.

Ancestry and the Predatory Drive in Dogs

In order to fully understand predatory behavior in dogs, we must look back in time to ancient times when dogs’ ancestors were not dependent on humans as they are today. Here, we will discuss the basics of predatory behavior.

The dogs’ ancestors were hunters before they were domesticated and fed kibble from shiny bowls. How does predatory behavior work? Tracking down, chasing, and killing animals for food is one of the animal’s abilities.

Dogs all exhibit some level of predatory behavior. Because of this drive, your dog is enthusiastic to chase a ball or shake a toy. A dog’s evolutionary past was dominated by hunting and killing.

It is scientifically called a “fixed action pattern” that predators follow: eye, stalk, chase, grab-bite, kill-bite, dissect, and consume. Although some dogs may follow the full sequence, others may not. Factors such as genetics, history, motivation, and others influence this.

The predatory drive could have led your dog to chase a fleeing cat if he saw one. Dogs have predatory drives when they see movement. When they see movement, dogs react automatically and reflexively.

At a distance, when a dog spots prey, he may fixate his gaze on the source, keeping his ears upright to listen for the faintest sounds and his body quivering and prepared to spring into action.

What are the legal implications?


It is no doubt traumatic and tragic if your dog kills your cat.

Nevertheless, if it’s also your dog, then the decision is up to you. Putting down a dog, as we mentioned earlier, is an unethical decision.

If, on the other hand, it was someone else’s dog that killed your cat, then you must find out precisely what the laws are in your state when it comes to someone else’s pet killing yours.

The cat of your neighbor

As another example, if your dog killed your neighbor’s cat, then your neighbor will have to do the same and refer to the state laws concerning your pet killing them.

Reasons why dogs kill cats

Cats are viewed as prey by dogs. Such behavior is referred to as predatory aggression.

Therefore, hunting possums, squirrels, or rats is no different for dogs. In their view, cats are not fundamentally different from rodents or other forms of backend wildlife, as we do.

Furthermore, why should they? Shepherd dogs, for example, are genetically selected because of their ability to guard against predators. For dogs who think in this way, cats are predators because they are carnivores.

How does all of this affect Fido? The backyard dog who was otherwise friendly attacked the cat in the yard, indicating predatory aggression. There is nothing abnormal about this in terms of a predator-prey relationship. It is sad to realize that this behavior is considered unnatural and abnormal by the human family.

It’s not uncommon for grieving people to use words like dangerous, vicious, and malicious to describe your dog; however, in this case, it’s not necessarily true.

In reality, predators are not as bad as they may sound. It is probably one of the best ideas you could have in this case to ask your vet or another canine behavior specialist to analyze the dog’s temperament.

Dogs aren’t good or evil

A dog cannot be classified as either good or evil, unfortunately. By anthropomorphizing their dogs, owners are viewing them as cruel for killing an animal. They are basically assuming a moral value for their dogs.

Dogs don’t have any, which is counterintuitive. Predatory aggression in dogs is not the result of a psychological problem, nor is it indicative of viciousness, vindictiveness, or malicious intent.

It is not the same thing as angry aggression or predatory killing inside a dog’s brain. There is no comparison.

Were there any previous signs of aggression?

Predatory instincts often lead dogs to kill cats. If you have a cat, you should encourage this behavior. The act of trying to catch a cat by a dog is genetically normal, however, it is not acceptable in today’s society. 

If anything happens to one’s pets, it can be extremely traumatic for the owner. Just as a dog owner loves his dog, a cat owner loves his cat.

It is tragic to witness your beloved household pets injured and, in the worst case scenario, dying. This can be a traumatizing experience for pet owners, so avoiding your dog trying to catch a cat is of paramount importance.

Cats can be a thorn in the side of some dogs. It may be because they were chased by cats when they were pups, which turned against them.

When they get defensive or fear for their lives, cats can also be pretty vicious. When their claws meet, they can spit and lash out, giving a dog a nasty scratch.

Therefore, if your dog has experienced something like this, you should keep him as far away from cats as possible. 

Is the dog safe now or should you put him down?

Dogs that kill cats may appear to be bad dogs, but they are simply following their instincts.

Even if a tragedy occurs, don’t punish him or hit him, because he will not understand this, and it may make his aggressive behavior worse. It is never a good idea to let your dog chase or catch cats in order to teach the dog a lesson.

The arrangement may not work out as you hoped, and one or both animals may end up injuring themselves if they escape into the street or curb area.

In addition, killing a dog for killing a cat is never an ethical solution.

Will it harm my children or family?

Despite the fact that dogs get along well with infants and can even be quite protective of them, not all stories have happy endings.

When living with an infant, a predatory aggressive dog can become increasingly dangerous. Typically, children under three years old move quickly, make high-pitched noises and make lots of noise. 

Therefore, a baby lying in a bundle of blankets looks like a small wounded prey to your dog. As a general rule, if such a thing were to happen, it would most likely occur while you are away from home.

When you are around, the dog will most likely just stare at the baby, which is often misinterpreted as interest. While lunge-bite may be suppressed, the desire to do so remains.

In summary, the only way to protect cats, humans, and animals from predatory aggression is to avoid situations that put them at risk. 

You should keep your dog away from cats if it has a tendency to chase cats and keep them away from smaller dogs if it has a tendency to chase smaller dogs. 

Dogs that display predatory instincts should not be left alone with children under the age of three years old if they have shown these characteristics. It’s not easy to control the situation, so you should also be realistic about how you’ll do it.

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Are other cats at risk?

It’s a sure bet that your dog will kill another cat if he’s already killed one.

It cannot be taken back because the signs of predatory aggression have already been displayed. You can, however, discourage this behavior in certain ways, but they are not guaranteed.

If your dog has killed a cat in the past, it is highly likely that he will do the same if he has the opportunity and a cat crosses his path. 

Is there a possibility of rehabilitation?

Using early prevention is a great way to intervene. You may be able to improve the situation if you raise your pup with cats before he’s three months old. It is quite common for puppies to enjoy playing with cats who may not share their enthusiasm.

Unless there’s a risk of serious injury, avoid butting or chipping in during altercations. In addition to teaching the puppy boundaries, the cat’s aggressive behavior ensures that he won’t mess with cats in the future.

Separation and containment can also work.

Keep your attack dog within an open, fenced-in area alone if he has killed a cat and continues to chase it.

Then designate a large kennel area if this is not possible. In this way, the dog is prevented from getting into packs with other loose dogs, who also tend to act aggressively.

Additionally, keep in mind that cats are nocturnal, so they are most active before dawn and after dusk when walking a dog. Therefore, do not walk your dog during these times, and make sure he is always on a leash to ensure he remains under control. 

Moving on and rehabilitation

Regardless of whether the cat is yours or someone else’s, the death of a beloved pet is anyone’s worst nightmare.

Regardless of how much you or your neighbor love the cats, blaming the dogs for acting out of instinct won’t do any good. An instinct is a hardwired behavior that sometimes changes, but never completely disappears.

As a result, here are some tips for preventing further mishaps and recovering from loss:

Manage the environment

It might be worthwhile to send your condolences and also offer to pay for the cremation or burial of the neighbor’s cats if your dog has killed them.

Additionally, you should make sure that nothing similar happens in the future. The environment that your dog lives in is entirely your responsibility, as is protecting the animals of others.

Occasionally, a cat may be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so owners of cats should do what they can to keep them on their own property and away from dogs.


Providing him with ample opportunity, your dog is likely to act on his instincts again at any point. Your dog is likely to kill another cat if he killed one once.

Protect your other cats

You should also prevent cats from accessing your home from now on if you have any. Therefore, you should keep your dogs and cats apart or even consider re-homing your dog or cat.

The instinct is natural, as we have discussed many times, but that does not mean it cannot be changed. It is often highly beneficial to implement force, re-training, and behavior modification. 

Fear of your dog hurting your children

There is no guarantee that your dog will turn on your children or infants because they killed a cat. The dog’s behavior, however, will show that he is at risk for such health issues.

Many dogs are also overstimulated by children running quickly. Therefore, children and dogs should always be supervised when interacting.

You should always be around when your kids interact with your dog, regardless of whether your dog has a history of killing animals or not.

dog killed a cat

When Your Dog Kills, How to Move On

It’s a cat owner’s worst nightmare to see their beloved pet being killed by a dog. While one may have been attached to the cat, blaming a dog for acting out of instinct is not helpful.

As hardwired behaviors, instincts can be managed and sometimes changed, but can never be completely eliminated. Listed below are some tips to help you recover and prevent future mishaps.

Environment management. It’s important to ensure nothing similar happens in the future if your dog kills a neighbor’s cat after sending condolences and possibly offering to pay for burial or cremation services.

Our dogs’ environment must be managed by us, so it’s our responsibility to protect the animals of others. Cats, however, can find themselves in some unfavorable situations. The owner of a cat must also make sure the cat does not get into the property where dogs live.

Prevent rehearsal. The more that a dog is provided with opportunities to act on their predatory drive, the stronger the predatory behavior will become and it will be repeated in the future. When a dog chases or kills a cat, it is important to understand that it is likely to do the same thing again.

Keep your other cats safe. It is imperative that you prevent access to your other cats from now on. You may want to consider rehoming your dog or cat. Keep them completely separated from your dog.

Ask for help. A behavior may seem “natural” but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed. A force-free training program and behavior modification can help in some cases.

Is my dog now dangerous to my children? Despite this behavior suggesting the dog may be at risk of harming humans, infants, or other dogs, killing a small animal does not necessarily mean the dog would hurt someone, an infant, or another dog.

Children who run fast may overstimulate some dogs, according to Nicholas Dodman. No matter whether your dog has a history of killing small animals or not, you should always exercise caution and supervise interactions between dogs and children. Consult an expert to assess your dog if you ever feel uncomfortable.

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When my dog kills a cat, what happens?

Therefore, if your cat is killed by a dog, you should contact a lawyer. All dogs belong to their owners. It’s possible to file a lawsuit or make a civil claim against the owner of the dog if it’s not a stray.

Can dogs kill cats easily?

In many cases, dogs can seriously injure or kill cats very quickly, and cats can also seriously injure your dog.

Can I sue the owner of the dog that killed my cat?

If the dog had a predatory tendency and could harm other animals, you can sue the owner. As long as the owner says they weren’t aware, it is considered negligent behavior, and you can still request compensation.

Can a dog eat a cat?

Although they kill cats, dogs rarely eat them. Cats and dogs are instinctively rivals.

Can prey drive be trained out of a dog?

You can tame your dog’s prey drive with training exercises, and there are several exercises you can do at home with your dog, with the most important one being to establish control over them when they are off-leash.

How can I prevent my dog from killing animals?

Take your dog on a leash and lead him to the animals he tends to chase. Tell him “stop” whenever he tries to run away. Do not pull him back if he reaches the end of the leash, just stop him from going forward. Give him a treat and lots of praise when he comes when you command him.

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It is normal for dogs to kill cats, however, as the pet owner, you can take steps to ensure that he refrains from doing so. If you are still struggling, then seek professional help. Do your research and find out as much as you can about preventative measures. 



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