I would like to adopt an outdoor cat, but my herding dog is aggressive toward cats on our walks. I am not sure if he will get along with one as a family member. I don't want to bring an adopted cat into a hostile environment.

  • how old is your dog? a younger dog is easier to change the behaviour of then an old one. – trond hansen Dec 13 '17 at 6:54
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    Some dogs have an instinct to kill cats. You need to decide how aggressive the dog is. Even if it just want to chase the cat they are not going to be a good couple. – paparazzo Dec 16 '17 at 15:58
  • How often is your dog around cats? How often is your dog around other animals in general? (Please answer both) Do you have any other animals in the house? – Dioxin Sep 14 '18 at 0:02

Probably your dog has never seen you holding and treating a cat with a nice attitude. I had a dog in the who had the same attitude when I adopt him at first time. After he saw me holding my cat and petting him over and over a number of times, while keeping a distance between them, my dog started to consider it as a member of our pack!

Same thing goes with my cat. When he saw me petting the dog he started feeling safe toward him.

(note : always keep a distance) I am not saying this method is going to work with your dog 100%. Don't trust him with your cat yet. I'm just telling you my experience that may be helpful to you.

This thing has to be coupled with monitoring and attendance for couple months before you can let them with each other alone.

And in the end this depend on your dog's aggression level.

I'm not an animal expert but that was just my experience. I hope this is helpful for you.

Have a good day :)


As far as I know, there is no other way to train your dog to accept cats than by having a cat. But some requirements should be fulfilled so it is less stressful:

  1. Your dog obeys perfectly. You can handle him without a leash and are able to let him sit down, even if there is a cat.

  2. You have enough space to separate both at the beginning, possibly for a few weeks.

  3. The cat should not be afraid of humans and especially not of you. Because there would be too much problems to handle at once.

  4. You should be honest with yourself and be able to stop the training if you see that there is too much stress for one of the animals and no progress.

If all that is fine, you can start:

  1. Take this cat to your house into a separate room. The cat should have food, drink and a litter box available and something to climb and hide. Even if the cat is an outdoor cat, you should keep the cat inside for at least a few days, until she accepts your house as home.

  2. After one or two days, start with the training. Let your dog sit and let the cat come out of the room. Let the dog watch the cat, but hinder him from hunting the cat. Stay calm, don't shout at the dog, even if he is growling. After a while, start to keep your dog busy. Train some tricks he already knows, give him treats. Try to ignore the cat. Don't play movement games--it could stimulate your dog and frighten the cat. Play calm games. The dog will have problems giving you attention. That is normal. If he is doing well, or just a little bit better than at the beginning, praise him, give him treats. Then stop the training. Do so by letting the dog sit down, go to the cat, take her and put her back into her room. Then let the dog walk freely wherever he wants to go. He will run to the door the cat is behind and sniff at the door. That is okay. Let him do that. If he starts to scratch, say "no" and call him. If he is sniffing fanatically, stop him, too. After a few minutes, do something very active with your dog. Go on a long walk or play an active and rough game. Give him the chance to burn off energy. He will have produced much adrenaline, and he should be able to get rid of it. When you come back, he will probably start sniffing immediately. Stop him doing that, let him sit down and cuddle him.

  3. Retrain step 2 the next few days. Be aware that the dog won't relax much the first days, even if the cat is in the other room. Try not to make a big deal out of it. Stay professional. If you get the attention of your dog more easily, increase the time the cat is in the same room as the dog. You can have multiple training sessions at one day, but don't overwhelm them.

  4. Start to interact with the cat in front of the dog. It's best if there are at least two humans. One is playing with the cat, another with the dog. Don't play movement games with the cat--it would animate the dog to hunt. Start with cuddling the cat.

  5. Don't force the cat and the dog to be very close together or sniff at each other. At first hinder them from getting closer than one or two meters. When the dog is able to relax and nearly ignores the cat being in the same room, you can let them come closer. If the dog has a favorite place, always hinder the cat from going there and never let the cat eat the dog food. You don't want the dog being jealous. But don't allow it the other way round either.

Be prepared that it is a long way. You have to find a solution for the time when the cat is ready to get outside, but the dog doesn't like the cat, yet. Avoid every fight between them. Rather it takes longer than it should, than forcing a step and destroy all the progress they made so far.

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    Also make sure that there are plenty of places where the cat can go but the dog can't. Cat trees are perfect for this, but windows, tables, and tops of sofas help too. Ideally, the cat would be able to go from litter box, to food, to favourite sleeping places without having to touch the floor. This isn't always practical, but you can aim for this by adding cat trees and temporarily moving some furniture around. – mhwombat Dec 16 '17 at 18:37
  • "Even if the cat is an outdoor cat, you should keep the cat inside for at least some days, until she accepts your house as home." - Can you confirm this wouldn't create counter-productive problems, such as possibly conditioning the act of being forced inside to the dog being present? – Dioxin Sep 14 '18 at 0:06
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    @VinceEmigh yeah, this can create counter-productive problems, but if you let an outdoor cat outside from the first day on, the cat will run away and looking for its old home. They can run back for miles and even if it does not find the old home, it is very possible, that the cat will start to stray and looking for a good/new home on its own. The cat does not know that you bought it and that it has to stay with you. It has to learn it. That takes a few days, where you should try to seperate cat and dog and make your home comfortable for the cat. – Haras Brummi Sep 14 '18 at 14:58
  • "Outdoor cat" doesn't mean "had a home previously". I've had outdoor cats which were born on the street, and have encountered the problem mentioned in the question. There are also owners who willingly let their cats outside. If "The cat may run to it's previous home" isn't a factor, how would "Keep them inside" be beneficial? I'm not saying you're wrong - I'm genuinely curious. I don't know what's the proper way to handle this, although there seems to be quite a few conflicts with what you suggested. – Dioxin Sep 15 '18 at 0:28
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    Every cat has a previous home, even street cats. They have a previous territory with some hiding places, which they will try too find. But if the new house already is in the old territory, than you don't have to keep the cat inside, because the territory has not changed. – Haras Brummi Oct 29 '18 at 15:07

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