Can cats and dogs get along? They have a reputation from the media for fighting, but I’m sure that we all have known a dog and cat duo who were as thick as thieves. Obviously, the breed of dog matters for the relationship. Here we will be investigating this question with the energetic border collie to try to find out if border collies can get along with cats.
Border Collies are a popular energetic shepherd breed. Having been bred to take care of sheep, this lovely dog can get along with cats a lot more easily than many other breeds. They are somewhat more massive than the cat; however, and their instincts will be to herd the cat. So with a little training and patience, Border Collies and cats can be taught to coexist peacefully.
Many breeds of dogs can have a strong prey drive, which can endanger any cat friendship. This, however, is not the case for Border Collies. Borders have, if anything, a protecting and herding drive, which means that they will want to protect the cat and might be overbearing.
Thankfully dogs are very trainable, and the hyper-intelligent Border Collie is no exception. There are many fantastic tips and tricks in this article, that will help make sure that your cat and Border Collie get off on the right foot and keep on trucking happily together.
Border Collie History
Border Collies are a brilliant and energetic dog. Known for their incredible athletic abilities, you can often see them competing with great success in all manner of dog sports. They make great family dogs for those families that have a high enough activity level to keep these lovely dogs productively occupied.
They originated in the border between England and Scotland. As hardworking sheepdogs that came from a mix of old roman herding dogs with the spitz-type breeds that came over with the Vikings in their ancient British conquests. Interestingly enough, the word “collie” is an old Scottish word that is believed to mean useful—a fitting name for this very useful breed.
Today the dog is considered the premier sheepherding breed and is happily herding sheep all over the world.
Border Collies Are Bigger Than Cats
As dogs go, Borders are on the small-mid size range. Weighing in at about 26 to 44 pounds, they are a below-average size dog with the average being around 60 pounds or so.
The size will be something to think about. Though Borders aren’t gigantically larger than cats, there is still a substantial size difference to keep in mind when they play with each other. From the cat’s perspective, they are 2 to 3 times larger than them. So you will need to keep an eye on both of them whenever they are playing or interacting.
The dog’s larger size could hurt the cat even if they don’t mean to. So supervise all interaction until you’re confident that they have a healthy social dynamic.
Due to Border Collies breeding to be on good terms with sheep, they have little prey drive to worry about. This is an excellent thing as many dogs can have problems living with cats because of their strong hunting instincts. Problems like stalking and predatory chasing of cats should be something you won’t have to be concerned about.
While Borders might not have a prey drive, they do, however, have a herding drive. They can nip and bark in their attempts to herd a wide array of creatures ranging from children, people, other dogs, and cats.
This can be an issue as cats do not like being herded nor nipped and barked at for that matter.
Cats generally like to go where they want to go and when they want to do it. No cat wants a dog pushing it around to go here or there. Sheep, they are not, even though some cat breeds might be almost as fluffy.
Fortunately, Borders are very trainable and eager to please their owners, so this problem can easily be handled with some proper training and giving your cat some safe spaces.
Techniques to Keep the Peace
How you should go about managing the relationship between your dog and cat will be determined by whether you’re dealing with introducing a puppy to a full-grown cat, or a kitten to a full-grown dog.
Introducing a puppy and kitten to each other is the most comfortable combination and the most likely to have a good relationship. But this is possible with all combinations if you take the right steps.
Give Your Cat a Safe Space
Being that one of the problems you will face with having a Border Collie and a cat living together is the dog constantly harassing the cat. It becomes vital to give your cat some parts of the house where they can chill without worrying about the dog being all up in their business.
You could give your cat a lovely cat tree, where they can climb up to safety if things get too hot. Plus, cats just love looking down on other life forms imperiously from on up high.
Having a room where the dog isn’t allowed, but the cat is, can be another great way to establish safe spaces. This could be a bedroom or laundry room. You can also take some child gates and close off a section of a hallway or one part of the house from another.
Closing your dog off from the cat’s litter box can be useful as some dogs will like eating the kitty litter, which isn’t good for them.
Train Your Dog With a Command Phrase
Using a command phrase with your Border Collie like no or stop can make your life easier. Whatever you choose as the word, make sure your dog understands that it means to stop whatever they’re doing immediately.
If their play becomes too rough, all of suddenly just say your command phrase to your dog, and if you trained them right, then the behavior that was bothering you will stop.
Cats can hurt a Border Collie as well with their sharp claws, especially if any slashes are directed at the dog’s eyes. But cats are much more stubborn and difficult to train while dogs are much easier. Because of this, most of the training burden will likely have to lay on the dog.
Feed Them in Separate Places
Food protection is a common trait amongst most animals. Even people can be protective over their food, just look at any big family with a lot of kids. Dinner can be a total madhouse.
Conditions like that with your cat and dogs food will increase stress and tension, leading nowhere good. It’s just in their instincts.
To fix this, it’s a good idea to feed them at different locations. You probably don’t want to feed them at different times as they won’t understand why the other one gets food when they don’t even if you fed them just a little bit before.
To keep your cat’s stress levels low during feeding time, it would be a good idea to feed them somewhere up high where your Border Collie can’t get to them.
Pay Some Extra Attention to Your Cat
Make sure that you don’t neglect your cat, and give your dog too much attention over them. Cats can get very jealous and will lash out when they feel snubbed.
To help keep your cat happy, give them some of their favorite treats along with a lot of snuggles and pets just the way they like them.
Introducing a New Border Collie Puppy to
Introducing your new Border Collie puppy to your cat will be a lot easier if your cat is already used to living with dogs. If this is not the case, then this will be a little more difficult and will take your cat some time to get used to the new dog.
Besides having safe areas for your cat and making sure to train your puppy. You should keep a close eye on both of them at first; don’t leave them alone without supervision until your sure that they get along.
Both cats and dogs can get very protective of things they like. This could be toys, food, even people. So just another reason to keep out a sharp eye on the situation. But with a few simple techniques, this process can go as smoothly as possible.
Tire Out Your Puppy
Before you first introduce your Border Collie puppy to your cat, it’s good to burn off some of their excess youthful energy. The main reason your cat may not like your new puppy will be because the puppy is too bouncy and annoying. So wearing your puppy out a bit can go along way in the relationship.
Take your puppy out for regular walks, and maybe a pleasant visit to a dog park. The dog park, besides giving your puppy a chance to express their energy it will also help socialize them to different animals, situations, and people.
All of these things will not just make your puppy get along better with your cat but also help out your new growing dog in a variety of situations throughout their life.