On Sunday night, my cat Raven gave birth to 4 kittens. They are doing brilliantly, fat, happy, noisy, cuddly. Raven has recovered well and is behaving like her usual super-friendly self.

There's only one problem: my dog is terrified of the kittens. He's a two year old Border Terrier, extremely loving and happy. Raven is his best friend; the best day of his life was the day we brought her home. They have always been close and playful. They're not playing as much now because Raven is tired but they are still affectionate towards one another. She came to us at 6 weeks old (!) so he has been around kittens before.

I just can't understand why he is afraid of them. He has been raised around small animals from 8 weeks old - his best friend as a puppy was my rat Daniel, and even now he loves my rats. He plays with them and understands he has to be gentle, he has never even come close to hurting them. So he is not wary of small animals.

When my rats are ill or dying, I hold them 24/7, and the dog has always shown curiosity, curling around them on the sofa to keep them warm when I leave the room. So he understands when animals need extra care and gentleness.

I recently found an orphaned baby mouse - the dog loved him, gently licked him, looked in my hands when I entered the room. So he understands about babies.

He has never been wary around any other animal - but this isn't just wariness, it's fear. When we pick a kitten up, he runs to the other side of the room, ears up, eyes wide. He has shown curiosity the day they were born but was not allowed to touch them, but now when we hold one up for him to sniff he runs a mile. He hasn't been told off for being near them, nor has Raven given him any warnings.

I honestly can't understand why he is so scared. Will this continue, or end when they start walking and behaving more like cats?

  • Have you ever seen any interaction between Raven, the dog, and the kittens at the same time? This is really pure speculation, but perhaps raven chased him away from the kittens at some point, and he is reacting to that now?
    – Layna
    Jun 20, 2015 at 19:53
  • @Layna No, he's never been near them at all. He will look from a distance, but that's all. Could he be afraid of their meowing? The high pitched whiny meowing they do.
    – Piper
    Jun 20, 2015 at 20:47
  • @Layna Just tried with the 3 of them now, he backed away as far as he could, though Raven did nothing but lick the kitten's leg. She's not bothered by him being near them at all.
    – Piper
    Jun 20, 2015 at 20:54
  • 1
    How is the dog doing right now? Back then it could've been some hormonal scent he picked up or something...
    – Just Do It
    Dec 17, 2015 at 18:10
  • 2
    @Just Do It - honestly he is fine right now, perfect with them even. They love each other and are very affectionate, I've never seen cats and dogs this close before. I think they view him as a surrogate father. They're always cuddled up together. It must have been hormonal, or something along those lines, because looking at them now you'd never guess he was ever afraid of them.
    – Piper
    Dec 18, 2015 at 11:04

5 Answers 5


My dog was the same way when I fostered 4 kittens, which wasn't a big problem since once they were bigger they went back to be adopted. The BIG problem began when I rescued 2 puppies and my loving, always sleeps with me 130 lb (60 kg) baby would literally try to jump on the back of the couch to get away from them. He wouldn't even come in the house. It got to be where I thought the pups were going to have to go.

What I noticed though was after much research and an awesome article by Cesar Millan was that I, not my dog, needed the help. Now after a month I see him nose to nose with them outside and he will come in at night if I go get him. I think he is/was afraid of hurting them accidentally since the larger they get the more I find them together.

The biggest thing I learned (from Cesar) was not to comfort him, give treats, etc, as that was rewarding his fearful behavior which was what I had been doing all along. Now that I have stopped, it is definitely getting better. Good luck and sorry so long to explain.


Sometimes some dogs are not so much afraid of the kittens, but afraid of what will happen if they hurt the kittens. In their minds they may badly want to eat or bite the kittens, but they know you will be upset or they will get into serious trouble.

A dog that is afraid of other baby animals should be watched VERY carefully to protect the small or baby animal and prevent disaster and heartbreak.

Some dogs just have it in them to want to kill smaller animals and there is almost nothing you can do about it.

Please protect your kittens and introduce them to your dog slowly, and do not leave them home alone together without being crated or separated in different rooms.

Best of luck!


Maybe it's because they have only just been born and he will sense that the mother will not want him near them. Or maybe he has never seen kittens before and it's a new experience to him :)


They are still so tiny that he doesn't understand what the truly are yet. When Raven introduces him and explains in their animal language that those are her babies he will be fine. Just give it some time and he will understand.


My dog was like that too, after a while yours will get use to the kittens. Try to introduce them slowly. Make sure you are always there when they are introduced. If one feels threatened, it could go in one of two ways: one runs away and you have a funny video, or two they attack and you have to put yourself in the middle of it making a bad video.

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