Can A Cat Kill A Dog?

Can a cat kill a dog¹

Who’d win in a fight between a dog and a cat? Most people would bet on the dog and for good reason.

Dogs are usually larger and have a stronger bite, so the question seems like a no-brainer.

However, if you have a toy dog, worrying whether a cat can kill a dog is quite a legitimate concern.

Theoretically, yes, a large cat could manage to kill a smaller dog or a puppy, but in real life, such incidents are almost unheard of.

Even if the cat doesn’t kill the dog, it can inflict serious damage.

On the other hand, they don’t even have to fight. A cat might kill a dog with a single scratch if the feline is infected with bacteria. 

In this article, we’ll have a look at the reasons why a cat might attack a dog and how such a fight would go. Also, we’ll explain what wild cats could potentially kill a dog.

Can a cat kill a dog in a fight?

This depends on the size of the two animals.

If you have a large dog, you don’t have to bother with such a question.

Yet, if your pooch is a small dog, such as a Dachshund, Pug, Pomeranian, terrier, or Chihuahua, you should think twice before getting a cat.

For instance, a cat like the Maine Coon can weigh up to 20 lbs, so it’s much larger than a Chihuahua tipping the scales at 8 lbs.

Should such a cat be angry enough, it could manage to kill the poor thing, although it must be said that little Chihuahuas are known to be very loud and quite brave, maybe too brave given their diminutive size.

If you’ve ever watched a cat hunting for birds or mice, you must have noticed that they use stealth, bide their time and only pounce when they’re close enough to their prey.

In most cases, the cat will go for the neck and break it. However, this only works with small prey. A cat would have a tough time trying to break a dog’s neck. 

Why would a cat attack a dog?

Cats rarely attack unprovoked and there are very few reasons why a cat would want to attack a dog.

A cat might react in anger if the dog keeps intruding on the cat’s territory.

The cat might ignore the intrusion once or twice, but at some point, it might lose patience.

Another reason why a cat and a dog might get into a fit is miscommunication. As a dog owner, you know that when your pet raises a paw, it’s usually a sign he wants to play. A cat might misinterpret this and consider the raised paw an imminent threat. 

As a first response, the cat might issue a warning, by hissing at the intruder. If the dog doesn’t back off, the cat’s next move will be to scratch the dog. In many cases, a simple swat with the claw will be enough to make the dog run away. Luckily, a cat won’t bother to give chase. 

If the dog has a grudge against the cat and won’t back away, he might attack the cat. Usually, when a dog wants to disable an enemy it will go for the legs, while when he’s in hunting mode he’ll go for the throat. If that happens, it’s the cat who’s in danger. 

Do cats kill puppies?

There are some stories of cats killing and even eating puppies, although they are hard to verify. A newborn puppy is basically defenseless against a domestic cat. Theoretically, a cat could bite hard enough to kill a small puppy. Why would a cat do such a thing? 

For one thing, cats are pretty territorial so they might attack an intruder. If you do have a cat and get a puppy it would be wise to keep them apart until the dog gets a bit older. And, of course, introduce them properly. Get them to know each other and don’t leave them together unsupervised until you know for certain they get along well. 

Can a cat scratch kill a dog?

A cat scratch can be very dangerous to your dog as it can lead to a nasty infection. Cat scratch fever is a disease caused by the Bartonella bacteria. This type of bacteria can be spread by fleas, which is why you should always keep your pets protected against fleas. If a cat is infected with Bartonella it can easily pass the disease to your pet through a scratch, and it doesn’t have to be a big scratch. Once the skin barrier is broken, the bacteria can easily get into the dog’s bloodstream

What is particularly interesting is that, in most cases, cats will show no sign of carrying the disease. However, if your dog gets it you will notice symptoms such as

  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

The disease can also cause an infection of the heart, a problem only your vet can diagnose.

The only way to be sure your dog has contracted cat scratch disease is to have your vet test him through blood or tissue cultures. It’s best to consult an experienced veterinarian, anyway, regarding the health and treatment of your dog if he’s been bitten or scratched by a cat.

Fortunately, cat scratch fever can be treated with antibiotics. The vet will probably put the dog on an antibiotic or maybe a combination of two antibiotics, but the treatment will be rather long. In some cases, the treatment may take up to six weeks if tests keep showing the bacteria is still present in your pet’s system. 

If your dog was in a vicious fight with a cat, you should examine him closely and disinfect any wound with hydrogen peroxide. Apply an antibiotic ointment before dressing the wound. You shouldn’t start your dog on antibiotics unless your vet says so, as these drugs can cause unpleasant side effects. 

As for the dog being killed by cat scratch fever, that’s very rare. Only a dog with a very weak immune system could have a problem fighting off this type of infection. 

How to keep your cat and dog from fighting

You don’t want your pets to be fighting like, well, cats and dogs, and there’s no need for that. With the proper introduction and a bit of training, your two pets could go along just fine and even play with each other. If you bring a new pet home, you’ll have to devote 2-3 weeks to get them acquainted. 

First, you’ll have to get them to respect each other’s territory. If you need to be away from home, don’t let them in the same room. 

Since cats are difficult to train, you should focus more on your dog. Avoid scolding or punishing the dog for misbehaving towards the cat, as that will only make him resentful. Instead of punishing him, when the dog barks at the cat try to distract his attention, by offering a toy. 

Your training should be based on rewards and lots of praise for good behavior, as you want to create positive feelings. When your dog responds appropriately to your command to leave the cat alone, make sure to reward him with a nice treat, so that he’ll think something like: “I was nice to the cat and I got this peanut butter treat as a reward. Maybe I should do this more often!”

Can a Serval cat kill a dog?

Serval cats have gained some popularity as exotic pets, although in various parts of the world owning such an animal is illegal. Serval cats come from Africa and you can find depictions of them in Ancient Egyptian art. These animals can weigh 20-40 lbs and, yes, they can be very dangerous to a small dog. 

Serval cats are very energetic, but they score very low on friendliness. While they can get very attached to their owner, deep down they’re still wild animals, therefore quite unlikely to become best buddies with another species. There are no known cases of a Serval cat killing a pet dog, but a 40lbs animal can surely inflict major damage on a small dog.

Can a Savannah cat kill a dog?

They may look quite similar, same golden coat with spots and stripes, but they’re actually different breeds. Savannah cats are a cross between Serval cats mated with domesticated cats. The first hybrid was born in the 1980s and the kitten was named Savannah as a nod to its origins, and it soon became the name for this breed of superb cats. 

Since they’re tamer than Serval cats, Savannah cats can get along well with dogs, especially if they are raised together. Actually, Savannah cats behave very much like pet dogs. They love to play Fetch and greet their owner at the door, and you can even take them out for a walk, on a leash. That being said, let’s not forget that a Savannah cat has the wild blood of a Serval cat in its veins and is also large enough to take on a small or even mid-sized dog. Such an encounter could be fatal to a small dog. Experts recommend that people who own a Savannah cat do not get a small dog. A German Shepherd has nothing to fear from any sort of cat, but a small one does. 

Can a fisher cat kill a dog?

Fisher cats are forest-dwelling small carnivorous mammals, native to Canada and the northern part of the US. Their favorite prey are porcupines, although they might attack even larger animals. If your dog gets face to face with a fisher cat, there’s little danger of him getting killed. A large adult male will weigh 13 lbs, at most, so this type of animal is not a threat to most dogs. Also, they’re solitary hunters so there’s little risk of your pooch being attacked by a pack of fisher cats. 

Closing thoughts

So, can a cat kill a dog? Bottom line is that a large and very angry cat could probably kill a smaller dog. However, the dog would have to be rather weak. The same goes for cats killing puppies. They could do it, but they’d have to have a pretty serious reason for that, like the cat being starved. 

What you should worry more about is your dog getting cat scratch fever, which can be quite serious. If your pets get into a serious fight, make sure to take them both to the vet to assess damages. 

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Peretz Partensky on Flickr

Sarah Pulsen

Hello, I have been in love with dogs since I was a little girl. I became even more infatuated with them when I was told by my Mum that I couldn't own one. Since I left home there has rarely been a time in my life when I have lived without a dog. My current dog is a Collie Terrier cross, called Ian.