Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Pyrenees and Cats

While I have blogged about Great Pyrenees and cats previously, I have noticed many people doing searches on the subject.  I can only assume they are considering adopting a Great Pyrenees and want to ensure the breed is a match for those with cats.  I felt compelled to blog again, to address this question.

I think my previous article was a little too full of fluff, and not enough 'straight to the point'.  The answer is, "yes".  Great Pyrenees are a great match for those who also own cats.  They are livestock guardians, and their duty is to protect the land and the creatures within it.   Farm owners entrust their Pyrs to watch their land against predators, all while being gentle with the sheep and other animals on the farm.  It's "theirs" to protect.  It is in a Pyr's DNA to be gentle with everything that is not a threat.

What freaks cats out are dogs that are high energy.  Herding dogs, especially, may treat cats and kids as their 'herd' and be inclined to act rambunctiously around them.  I am not a herding dog expert, so hit up one if you are in love with a herding breed and want to introduce a cat; they may have great tips.

It's not fair to the cat to assume it is only high-energy dogs that will annoy cats, but it's a good starting place.  Some kitties just hate dogs, period.  Some cats will strike out against even the most gentle of Pyrs…who only walks by your cat to get to the water bowl; innocently enough, they may still endure the wrath of your kitty. 

Working in Pyr rescue, vetting them for 'cat friendly' was a huge part of the adoption process.  I would dare say that 95% of all the Great Pyrenees that came through our rescue were great with cats.  Either they outright ignored them, or they loved them and wanted to protect them as their flock; a very small percentage had unusual prey drive for the breed, and were definitely not a match for cat homes. 

I own 3 cats and 2 Great Pyrenees.  My 1 Pyr ignores the kitties, and they love her for that.  My other Pyr acknowledges them at every opportunity; he loves them…he wants them to love him too.  He doesn't paw them or touch them, but he wags his tail and stalks them through the house.  Sometimes they strike out and bat his face.  He takes it with grace, and never holds a grudge.  He loves them.  I feel that my 2 Pyrs are a great example of what to expect if you are thinking about bringing a Pyr into your cat house.

Keep in mind, cats will draw their own conclusions regardless of the dog's behavior.  You can talk about this important issue with rescue people, but it's hard to anticipate what reaction your kitties will have.  I fostered a dog that didn't chase or terrorize my cats, but her energy alone really freaked them out.  One of my kitties decided it would be best to show protest, and pee on the floor.  After blood work and urinalysis, we determined it was just the dog upsetting him. 

Because adoption/dogs are forever, it would then have become my task to try to adapt my home around both creatures, ensuring my cat could have a better sense of well being, all while keeping my dog.  So be prepared for those kinds of challenges.  I think most cats will always prefer to live alone, but we can make adaptations to their environment, which will make the dog-cat co-existence better for both.

by Shannon Murphy


  1. Hi, we have a 6-month old female Great Pyr and love her very much. She is showing what you called prey drive towards our cats and we are seeing that she is seeming to get more aggressive towards them. Do you have any training tips for this? We'd hate to have to find her a new home, but if it would be safer for our cats and happier for her, we would.
    Thanks for your time.

  2. Thank you for this article. I'm hoping to adopt a great pyr that is at the shelter this afternoon. Our house has 2 older cats that have been around a dog.


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