Timothy Chisholm, of Kaikorai Primary School, asks :-

Why do dogs chase cats?

Kevin Stafford, an ethologist (expert in animal behaviour) at Massey University's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, responded.

Dogs chase cats because dogs are predators and some dogs regard cats as prey.

To a dog, cats may be like rabbits or any other prey species. For many town dogs, cats are the only animals available for hunting. This particular behaviour is more obvious in some breeds of dogs than others. However, individual dogs may be trained to chase cats by their owners unwittingly or deliberately encouraging the behaviour.

For many dogs chasing cats is great fun and it can be a difficult behaviour to eliminate. Generally dogs will not attack a cat that stands its ground but some dogs will attack the cat and damage it or even kill it. Dogs that chase cats and even attack them are often great pets otherwise!

Dogs like to chase after things and this is one way in which they hunt other animals. When dogs chase bicycles or cars they may be "hunting" although if this occurs on their own property it may be territorial defense, or a learned behaviour.

When sheepdogs, both eyedogs and huntaways, work sheep they are engaging in modified hunting activity. They are not allowed to bite and attack the sheep. However dogs that are straying and out of control regularly hunt, injure and kill sheep. Sheepfarmers living near to towns and cities often have sheep killed by dogs and that is one reason why dogs must not be allowed to stray.