Can Akitas, with a reputation for loyalty and fierce devotion, get along with cats? If you have a cat and want to get an Akita puppy or you’re just doing research on what kind of dog breed would be most compatible with your household, then this is a very important question. The same applies if it’s the other way around, and you already have an Akita and are thinking of inviting a cat to be a part of your family.
Any breed of dog can with the right training and socialization can get along with cats, but doing this with an Akita will be more difficult than with other breeds. Akitas were originally bred to be hunting dogs, particularly hunting large animals like bears, boars, and deer. This gives them a powerful prey drive, which could make living with a cat hard. This can be overcome with the right training, but you will always need to be very careful.
There are several dynamics that can exist in a relationship between a dog and a cat. One of the most important aspects is the age of the respective animals. Having a kitten and puppy, raising them together will always be the most comfortable combination.
With a high prey drive breed like the Akita, the second easiest combination is to have a cat already, then introduce a puppy to it. This allows you to train the puppy when their young and easier to control to behave appropriately with your cat. The most challenging combo would be already having an adult dog and bringing in a new kitten. The one exception to that would be if the adult dog already has lived with cats in which your job becomes much more manageable.
The History of the Akita
The name Akita comes from the province in northern Japan, where the breed was initially developed. An ancient breed of dog, the Akita was originally bred for activities that require courage and a particular ferocity.
Activities such as hunting big game, including bears, Being a bear hunter its easy to imagine when you see an Akita. Some even look a bit like bears. Akitas were also used in ancient times to guard Japanese royalty, which adds to the powerful protective instincts of the dog.
The first person to introduce this noble breed to America was Helen Keller. A renowned individual who was both blind and deaf but yet still lived an extraordinary life. The Japanese government was so amazed by her great spirit that they gifted her an Akita puppy. That puppy unfortunately perished due to distemper. But she was then presented with the puppy’s older brother Kenzan-go.
Keller would later refer to the Akitas as angels in fur and consider them to be gentle, companionable, and trustworthy.
An Akitas Instincts
Akitas have a very strong hunter/prey drive, which they can’t help. When you were bred for many generations to hunt, its not something you can quickly put aside. While dogs with a high prey drive can still be brought to love an indoor house cat, it does make things a lot more dangerous, so keep your eyes peeled. If another breed appeals to you and you already have a cat, then maybe consider getting a different dog then an Akita.
If you can raise your Akita puppy with a sweet kitten from the beginning, then that is the ideal. Even if you can just raise a puppy with a cat, then that will go much better. But it’s still not impossible to get a grown dog to get along with a new kitten or an adult cat.
Akitas Are Large Dogs
As dogs size go, Akitas are definitely closer to the top of the scale. Though some females are only a bit above average size, there can be a significant variation in height and weight amongst individual dogs, which could make a big difference in dog and cat relations.
Most Akita males stand somewhere between 26 to 28 inches, with a weight of 85 to 130 pounds. The females come in a bit shorter and lighter at 24 to 26 inches tall and 70 to 110 pounds.
A dog’s size can make a big difference in determining how well the breed will get along with other animals in the family, like cats. At such a large size, the dog could potentially hurt the cat even without intending to. Being some 5 to 10 larger than the average cat, just putting their weight down in the wrong area could lead the cat to suffer harm.
With Akitas Proper Training is Essential
When you’re combining a dog that is so large with also a strong prey instinct, then proper training becomes more important than anything. Make sure that you lay down consistent ground rules with your Akita, enforcing the with a never yielding consistency.
Failing to stay consistent with your rules will confuse your dog and hinder their training. If you establish a safe space for your cat, then that safe space must be respected by your dog, and you have to enforce it continually.
Train Your Dog With a Command Phrase
A command phrase is a word that tells your dog that they must stop. Whatever it might be, whether running, getting into something they shouldn’t, or playing with the cat. A command phrase can even save your dog’s life depending upon the situation.
If your dog starts running into the street and you see a car coming, your dog obeying your command to “stop” could save their life.
Now you could make this word be whatever you want it to be. It could even be pasta, though I wouldn’t recommend it as it could make Italian food night somewhat confusing. Just whatever word you use, make it the same and consistent.
Take Your Dog For Walks
Regular exercise can do wonders for a dog’s discipline. I have known many bad behaving dogs that started immediately calming down and shaping up once they were on a regular walk schedule.
This is especially true for a breed like Akitas. They are working dogs, and working dogs need a task that requires physical exertion and mental stimulation. If they lack this, they can go somewhat crazy.
An additional benefit of taking your dog for walks is it will socialize them to different people, animals, and places.
For more excitement, a dog park could be an excellent choice. You will need to be somewhat careful, however, as Akitas can have problems with dog aggression.
Train your Cat
While most energy is focused upon training the dog, due to the fact that dogs are generally much more amiable to training. Cats are a bit too stubborn to train with much consistency, though there are people who have managed to do it, it’s challenging.
However, some things aren’t really so much training your cat but instead establishing the proper context for good behavior with your cat.
Let Your Cat Have A Place To Retreat To
Things won’t always go perfectly between your cat and dog. Sometimes they won’t get along, and it won’t necessarily be anyone’s fault. It could either be a dog getting too frisky with the cat, or the cat might just get sick of the dog being in their face all the time. Of course, not all danger comes from the dog. Cats have weapons of their own that are very sharp and can do damage as any cat owner probably knows.
All of these things are excellent reasons for giving your cat an escape route to a safe space of their own where the dog isn’t allowed. This could be their own room, a bedroom, a laundry room, or even just a part of the house.
There are advantages and disadvantages to any of these options. But it needs to be a place where the dog physically can not go. Good ways of establishing this are with a cat tree, where the cat can flee upwards where dogs can’t climb.
You can also use child gates to block off an area. Of course, this is more difficult with a dog as large as an Akita. Since they could easily knock the gate down. So maybe reinforce the gate with something or train your dog not to knock the gate down.
Have Different Feeding Locations
Food can be a major flashpoint for cats and dogs, as well as dogs and dogs. So establishing different locations for where your dog and cat eat can help a lot in this area.
You can still feed them at the same time, but at different places. With a cat’s fantastic climbing ability, a good idea is to put the cat’s food somewhere way up high where only you and the cat can reach. Otherwise, the dog might be tempted to go after the cat’s food instead of their own.
Of course, this can happen the other way too. I once knew a cat and dog duo where they each preferred the other one’s food to their own. It was total chaos.
Indoor vs Outdoor
Even if your Akita gets along well with their house cat indoors, they might respond very differently to any cats they encounter outdoors. This is definitely something to keep in mind and understand that just because you have successfully trained your dog to be kind to the indoor family cat doesn’t mean that they will automatically be friendly to all cats.
Be Calm and Control Your Feelings
Dogs are very sensitive to human body language. They can almost smell your emotions. With Akitas being very loyal and protective dogs, they will be keenly in tune with your feelings. If you feel fear or stress, then they will feel it too and may become aggressive at whatever they think might be causing you to feel that way.
Though managing a cat/dog relationship can be stressful at times for your pet’s sake, act calm and do some deep breathing so you can be calm not just on the outside but on the inside too.
Being calming will help your dog to stay calm, allowing them to be more tolerant and kinder.