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I have a catahoula mix who is about 1 1/2 years old and we rescued him when he was about 8 months old. Other than endless amounts of energy that for the most part can be controlled with enough exercise, he is overall a good dog.

One thing I can not figure out with him is his intentions with our 2 cats, which are about 8 years old. Where he was fostered he had plenty of cats around him and he was with his 3 other siblings. We took it slow and slowly gave each animal space and separate parts of the house and the cats still have a room with there food and litter box he is not allowed in.

The craziest he gets is he will chase them to where they either jump up on a table or a bed, if he does catch them he never bites but more gives them a bunch of pushes with his nose. He also sometimes will go up to them when they are on the bed and start giving them a pushy sniff and start whining and then every once in a while throw in a bark. Usually its more the noise he makes that scares the cats than actually being sniffed. There have also been times where he completely respects the cats space, sometimes while giving them all treats I drop a cat treat between his legs and he doesn't do anything as a cat runs between his legs to get it and other times a cat can sleep within 10 feet of him with no response.

Part of me feels like he is just used to being with other dogs so he expects the cats to play with him but its hard to tell when he gets really excited and starts whining does he want to play or eat them?

thanks
 

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From what you've posted it's play. Asha will do the same behaviour with our 3 cats, the chasing with no intention of catching them, the nudging, the whining and/ or barking at them. The only difference is our 3 grew up with a dog so they are very comfortable in hitting Asha over the nose if she's being too much.
 

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I'm not experienced with this breed but his behaviour sounds similar to how my dog behaved when she wanted to play with our cat.
 

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It sounds to me like play behavior.

But keep in mind that play behavior can turn into predatory behavior in an instant if dogs get overstimulated playing with cats. I would supervise this dog very heavily and interrupt/redirect if he started getting really excited and/or pushy.
 

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Trust me, it's really easy to tell when a dog is attacking something. If the cats are all in one piece, it's play.

Sass is right, though, play can turn predatory on a dime if the dog gets overstimulated, so it's best to stop play before that point.
 
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