Akitas and cats sometimes get along, but these dogs have a strong prey instinct and can be unpredictable. Even if your Akita seems to like your cat, avoid leaving them alone together.
Living with Cats
In Japan, where the breed developed, Akitas served as hunting dogs, and a strong predatory urge is in their genes. They often view cats and other small animals as prey, even when they’ve been trained to coexist with felines. Raising an Akita puppy with a cat sometimes works, but with this breed, you can never take peace for granted. Some Akitas turn on cats they’ve known their whole lives, while others become best friends with their feline companions. If you want to adopt an older Akita, ask a rescue organization for one who has a good track record with cats. No matter how well the animals seem to get along, though, it’s crucial to pay close attention to all their interactions. When you’re away from home or can’t supervise them, always separate your Akita and your cat.
Cats Outside Your Home
Never let your Akita run off-leash. If he sees a cat, he’ll take off after it. His hunting instinct may also kick in around small dogs, birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other critters. If you have a backyard, make sure it’s surrounded by a secure, high fence. You may also want to let the neighbors know that your Akita has a strong prey drive, and they should keep their cats--and children--out of your yard.
Akitas can be extremely aggressive if they’re interrupted during meals. Your dog needs her own food and water bowls and space to dine in peace. Keep the cat away until the Akita has finished eating; you may even need to put the feline in another room while the dog cleans out her bowl. Some Akitas are also jealous about their toys. If your cat starts investigating the dog’s bone or tennis ball, you might try diverting his attention or separating the animals.
Akitas can live from 10 to 14 years, so if you plan to have children during that time--or you expect frequent visits from nephews, nieces or friends’ offspring-- take some of the same precautions you do with your cat. Keep children away from the Akita during dinner time, and supervise all interactions, even if they appear to get along well. Children also need to observe proper canine etiquette; Akitas don’t usually have much patience for poking, prodding, pulling hair and teasing. Other common kid behaviors, such as running and squealing, can trigger your dog's prey drive. Because of the Akita's size, her play may also be too rambunctious for small children. Finally, while Akitas tend to bond strongly with their family, they can be very hostile to other kids, so you might need to separate the dog from young visitors.
- Akita Inu image by Callalloo Twisty from Fotolia.com