Adding a new pet to your home can be an exciting adventure. For households with existing pets, though, it’s important to consider how your four-legged friend might react to a new family member.
Introducing pets of different species can pose its own unique challenges. Even though cats and dogs commonly cohabit in the same household, it isn’t always easy for owners to achieve peace. Active, playful breeds such as Border Collies can be of particular concern when it comes to cats.
Many pet owners ask the question: are Border Collies good with cats?
Here, I will discuss whether Border Collies can coexist with cats. Read on to learn more about keeping harmony in your household when introducing cats and Border Collies.
Border Collie Temperament
While no two Border Collies are exactly alike, they’ve been bred over the centuries to display a specific temperament type. While Border Collies might not have the personality for cats, with proper training, traits such as loyalty and cooperation make Collies wonderful companions for our feline friends.
Border Collies have been selectively bred to act as herding dogs. When they see a small, vulnerable creature, they have a deep-seated instinct to herd that animal back to safety. This may include behaviors such as staring and chasing, which can alarm unsuspecting cats.
Fortunately, Border Collies have few aggressive instincts. As herding dogs, they know not to bite or attack the animals they encounter. Even if your Border Collie chases your cat, it is unlikely to cause any harm beyond stress.
Gentle, Friendly Disposition
Border Collies are a popular family pet, thanks to their friendly nature. Though the breed tends to be active, they are calm and even-tempered. Most Collies rarely display aggressive tendencies.
Their warm personality makes most Border Collies safe to keep around children and small pets such as cats. Though they have a strong chasing drive, you can train Border Collies to see cats as part of the pack instead of prey.
While it’s impossible to train herding instincts out of most Border Collies, you can teach them to see your cat as a friend instead of as prey. If a Border Collie encounters a cat it doesn’t recognize, it’s more likely to display herding behaviors.
Herding dogs are less likely to chase familiar cats, especially those they see as family. If you can show your Border Collie that the cat is part of your family pack, it will come to accept it as a peer instead of another loose pet to herd.
Are Border Collies Good With Cats?
Border Collies are not always good with cats, especially new or unfamiliar ones. However, with time and patience, you can train your pup and cat to see each other as friends.
It can take more work to introduce a cat to a herding dog than breeds such as working or nanny dogs. For example, you may have to actively discourage Border Collies from herding behaviors such as staring at or chasing a new cat.
On the other hand, Border Collies make a much safer companion for cats than hunting or Terrier breeds. They lack aggressive instincts such as biting or grabbing that could injure a smaller pet.
Instead, Border Collies prefer to endlessly herd animals such as cats, which can prove stressful for your feline friend. So it’s up to owners to teach their dogs how to get along with other pets and keep peace in the household.
Introducing Cats and Border Collies
A proper introduction is one of the best ways to ensure lifelong companionship between your cat and your Border Collie. Taking things slow will keep both parties safe and comfortable, setting the stage for a peaceful relationship.
Separate Your Pets
If you try to introduce your pets too soon, it can spell disaster for everybody involved. Curious dogs may even accidentally hurt a new cat if allowed in the same room together.
You should always separate new pets when introducing them to your home. Whether you’re adding a cat or a Border Collie to your household, it’s a good idea to set them up in a bedroom or bathroom separate from the rest of your house.
An isolated space will help a new pet feel more at ease and establish themselves in your home. It also helps prevent stressful encounters with existing pets that may leave a lasting bad impression.
You should separate new pets for a few days until they appear relaxed and comfortable. During this time, keep the door closed and try to prevent any direct lines of sight inside. It’s best to keep pets from seeing each other while settling.
Introduce By Scent
Before allowing your pets to meet “in person,” you should use scent to introduce the two. Animals are highly dependent on smells, and the scent of a new animal can trigger alarm bells. If you get your pets used to each other’s odors early on, it can help to streamline the introduction process.
While your cat and Border Collie are still separated, swap out items such as toys and bedding. Over time, they will become familiar with the new scent in a safe and calm setting. Make sure pets are relaxed, calm, and happy when introducing a new smell.
You may also want to feed pets close to each other to form positive scent associations. You can keep them on either side of a closed-door to keep stress levels to a minimum. If they’re too distracted to finish a full meal, try offering treats instead.
Give Pets Face-to-Face Time
Once two pets are comfortable with each other behind closed doors, you can try giving them some face time. It’s best to continue using a barrier such as a baby gate to keep both pets safe.
Each day, give your Border Collie and your cat a chance to see, smell, and study each other from a safe distance. If you notice signs of stress in either pet, end the session and let them calm down.
With repeated exposure, both pets should become more comfortable with each other. Once they appear relaxed and friendly, you can try removing the gate for a face-to-face meeting.
Be sure to supervise meetings carefully, as curious Collies can easily injure small cats. Cats may also do some damage themselves with their sharp teeth and claws. It’s a good idea to keep your dog leashed in case you need to separate pets quickly.
Training Your Border Collie
Border Collies are a highly intelligent, trainable breed that is quick to listen and eager to please. Even though they have strong herding instincts, you can train them not to chase other household pets like cats.
If you notice your Border Collie harassing your cat, don’t react by chastising it. A strong reaction may just reinforce the behavior. Instead, try distracting your dog with a more appropriate activity.
When it feels like chasing something, teach it to play with toys or come to you for attention.
Positive reinforcement can also help to enforce good behaviors and discourage unwanted ones. When you notice your pup going for its toys instead of the cat, make sure to reward that behavior. Even looking away from the cat during playtime could be seen as rewardable progress.
Whether you’re a cat household or currently own Border Collies, the idea of adopting a new pet may have you wondering: are Border Collies good with cats?
Border Collies have a natural herding instinct, which may encourage them to chase nearby cats. Fortunately, their sharp intelligence makes Border Collies easy to train. With a proper introduction and patience, you can keep the peace in your household between cats and Border Collies.