Do Basenjis Like Cats? (Strategies)

So, how are Basenjis with cats? Can they co-exist in the same space without any incidences? It’s a generally held belief that Basenjis are really not good with cats or other dogs and pets because of their instinctive predatory nature. How true is this though?

So Do Basenjis like cats? Basenjis can generally be trained to cohabitate with cats without any incidence. There are a lot of examples out there of Basenjis and cats getting along quite well.

How are Basenjis With Cats

Just look through YouTube to see many adorable basenji and cat videos out there.

On the other hand, owners of Basenjis and cats have also experienced situations where their Basenjis have hurt their cats.

How are Basenjis With Cats Really?

How really are Basenjis with cats? Can they safely live together or is it a case of throwing your cat into a pit full of hungry lions? If you do a simple Google search or look through forums to establish the truth behind this, you will find a whole spectrum of conflicting ideas.

basenji and cat

In this article, we are going to look at different facets of this issue so that we get to a conclusion that hopefully gives you a solution that you are able to work with.

Basenjis are a breed that is native to central Africa and has for thousands of years been used as a hunting dogs. It is very agile and its medium build and frame give it a surprisingly imposing presence especially when it’s in the hunting mode.

Basenjis are great house dogs because they are well-groomed much like cats. They are also independent like cats which has given them a reputation of being somewhat difficult to train. That and their cat-like agility is pretty much where their resemblance ends.

Even though they are clean and well-groomed, they have boundless energy and need to expend that energy through a lot of exercise and play. When they tend to not have an outlet for that energy, they end up making a big mess in the house.

Because of this, some owners prefer keeping them outside and letting them in for their dinner. When you have more than one basenji, this is usually not a problem but when they are alone, it’s better to keep them indoors where they can have contact with you because they crave companionship.

Basenjis and Cats Getting Along

basenji dog with a simple harness
A Basenji dog wearing a simple restraint harness.

There is great evidence of Basenjis and cats getting along and many basenji and cat owners have little to no problems though a lot confess to having to take certain precautions from time to time especially if they have to leave the pets alone in the house.

They will usually separate the cats and Basenjis in different rooms of the house. This is a fact even in situations where the two pets have a cordial relationship. Things can take a fatal turn when you are not around.

Some Basenjis will get along with the cat in their house but viciously attack any other cat that may wander into their yard. This could be a key pointer as to whether or not you can leave your two pets alone at home without incidence.

Some Basenjis will not exhibit aggressive behaviour towards cats that are not part of your family. When this happens, it indicates that your basenji can get along easily with other pets in the home. This kind of scenario seems to be the exception to the rule though.

Basenjis Prey Instinct – Fact or Myth?

Basenjis are natural hunters and it’s an instinct that they possess and have had for many, many years in their genealogy. I’ve already mentioned that they were widely used as hunting dogs in Africa for thousands of years before they were taken across the sea to other continents.

training a tricolor Basenji puppy
In the process of training a tricolor Basenji puppy

Their hunting instinct is so strong that they were sometimes used to hunt lions. This aggressive nature has continued to be a part of their DNA even with extensive domestication over the years. When they play outside, they like to chase birds, cats, mice, squirrels and even other dogs.

When they are indoors, they still maintain this instinctive nature though in a playful nature especially if there are other pets like a dog or cat. Basenjis instinctively want to chase anything that moves and this becomes a problem if your cat exhibits fear by running away or acting jittery.

Basenji–cat relationships work best when the basenji is not aggressive or the cat is not intimidated by the basenji. When a cat is able to casually let the basenji’s aggressive behaviour slide in a casual manner, there are usually no confrontations that end in a bad way.

It’s important to allow your basenji to expend their energy by taking them outside or to a play park where they can run freely. When they are allowed to do this, they are usually a lot more manageable at home.

This usually translates to more cordial relationships with other pets at home including your cat.

Basenji Solo Vs Pack Behaviour

Basenjis usually tend to behave differently in aloe than in a pack. When there are two or more Basenjis, there is a tendency to take on a pack mentality. This means that if one of them takes off to chase your cat, the other is more inclined to do the same.

A full grown Black and White Basenji sits on the grass
A full grown Black and White Basenji sits on the grass

When they are alone, they can be more manageable. There is a higher likelihood of Basenjis killing your cat when there are two or more of them than if they are alone. That being said though, a lot of pet owners have come home to their solo basenji having killed their cat or other pet.

How to Train Your Basenjis and Cats to Co-Exist

If you still insist on having a basenji and cat as pets, here are some ways to improve the chances of harmony between them.

If you already have a cat, you could consider adopting or buying basenji puppies. Doing it this way allows them to get to acclimatise o the whole environment and learn to trust the cats. If you have a mature cat, it makes the situation easier.

You also need to make sure that the cat also does not exhibit aggressive behaviour as well because it’s not always the Basenjis at fault in the case of an altercation.

If, on the other hand, you are adopting an older basenji, it’s best to bring him home to test his reaction. Keep him on a leash for the first few meetings while allowing them to get used to each other. Be watchful for any aggressive behaviour from either the basenji or the cat.

Test this out for a few days until both pets show signs of being comfortable around each other. When you are certain, remove the leash but keep watch to make sure that there are no incidents. If you are leaving the home, keep them in separate rooms or different parts of the house.

Give both pets time to freely roam the house while the other is locked away so that they get used to each other’s scents.

If you see your Basenji or cat exhibiting aggressive behaviour, it’s best to go and try a different dog at the shelter. If you are set on keeping him, you may need to work out an arrangement where they are kept in different parts of the house.

a Basenji guessing which paw a treat is in
Basenjis are quite good at nosework, like this puppy guessing which hand the treat is in.

Traits to Watch Out For

There are traits that you need to keep a lookout for in either of your pets to make sure that they can safely co-exist. Look out for any form of aggressive behaviour between them. If one of them is uncomfortable when they are together, you need to keep an eye out.

This is an indicator that they will be cordial around you but can get aggressive when left alone. Be mindful of this.


A basenji Dog and cat can co-exist in the same space without any incidence as evidenced by the many cute YouTube videos that you will find where you do a simple search. They need to be managed though because many basenji and cat owners have found out the hard way.

Make sure to take every precaution possible in order to ensure that things are kept under control.