Can a Westie and cats get along? Before introducing a cat into your Westie-friendly home and vice versa, it is important to ask this question first.
Compared to most other small dog breeds, Westies can be quite accepting, but it will take some patience and determination. With appropriate training and proper introduction methods, you can develop a more peaceful household.
Westie and Cats Get Along?
As with any dog, it is impossible to predict how they will react, as every puppy is different. Sometimes, Westies can be quite tolerant of smaller animals in the household, while at other times, they aren’t.
The reason as to why you might find it challenging to introduce the two is because Westies have a strong prey drive, which we’ll discuss below.
When a dog’s prey drive is engaged, all they will want to do is chase whatever animal triggers them. This point is particularly true if they are surrounded by smaller animals, such as cats, kittens, squirrels, and especially, hamsters and mice.
There are a few particular circumstances where you might find having a Westie and cat to be the simplest, including:
- Your cat is used to living with dogs
- Both were raised together
- Your dog is trained to be social with smaller pets
- You’ve trained your dog to limit their prey drive
Although it might be a challenge, depending on the personality of your Westie, taking the time to make them comfortable can be very rewarding. Many pet parents find that it’s the cats that can make the introductory period more challenging to manage.
A Brief History of the Westie
As earlier mentioned, the prey drive of smaller dogs is something that can take a lot of time and energy to work with. In the 1800s, Westies were originally bred for plenty of jobs outside of being companions to their owners.
In fact, in villages and farms, they were responsible for hunting foxes and vermin. These tasks are likely what created such a strong prey drive in the breed.
Today, it’s more likely that Westies are responsible for playing with their family members, continually being entertaining, and having a lot of energy to expend.
As they won’t be prancing around a farm, you can guarantee that when faced with small animals, they are quite likely to chase them. In theory, it might sound adorable; in reality, it can create a very stressful environment for your smaller pets.
How to Introduce Your Westie to a Cat
Now that you have an understanding of why it can be challenging to manage a household with a Westie and a cat together, it’s not at all impossible. Using these steps, you can begin to make both pets acquainted with each other, which can help them to live together comfortably.
1. Build Friendly Relationships
Your primary objective is to create a relationship between your Westie and cat, preferably as early as possible. If the two are reared together from birth, they will learn to accommodate each other’s needs.
You’ll find that this process is quite similar to introducing children into your family, as those who grew up together are more likely to be accepting than those who didn’t.
If you are unable to rear both your kitten and puppy together, it should be noted that you will have to use a lot of care. Regardless of how friendly your cat is, it can still cause a lot of physical damage with its claws if it gets agitated.
In terms of your Westie, any dog has the capability of killing something smaller than them, particularly kittens. All in all, when introducing a mature cat or mature dog to one another, you should always supervise the experience.
2. Start Slowly and Alone
If you own more than one dog, the best thing you can do is introduce each of them to the cat individually. Dogs are known to hunt in packs, and when there is more than one dog in the room, they are likely to get incredibly rowdy.
During the introduction process, you’ll want the ambiance of the place to be quiet and calm. This can help to ease the anxieties of both parties.
You won’t want to take the kitten and shove it in the Westie’s face because this is only going to make them uncomfortable. Slowly introduce them to one another, allowing the dog to smell the kitten, and vice versa.
Many pet parents suggest crate training your Westie to make the process even more comfortable.
3. Leash-Only Play
You’ll be able to tell when both your Westie and your cat are comfortable around each other; there won’t be any fear, hissing, or barking. However, until they reach this point, it is highly recommended that you allow only leashed play.
This process means that you will want to keep your Westie on a leash when it is in the same room as the kitten or cat.
With a leash, you have complete control over your dog, and they understand that it is time to be obedient. By using this primary tool, you can create a safe environment for healthy socialization and even enable both to play with one another. We also love using leash-only play as a way to help both parties understand each other’s boundaries.
4. Move the Litter Box
One of the first things you’ll want to do is make sure your cat’s litter box is out of reach of your dog. It’s well known that dogs have an appetite for cat litter and fecal matter, which can make them incredibly sick.
By removing the litter box from common areas, you’ll be able to prevent your dog from eating anything they shouldn’t be eating when you aren’t watching.
Another fantastic benefit of moving their litter box is that you can allow your cat to have their own space away from your Westie. If they find themselves getting agitated or worked up, they don’t have to stay in the same room together. Your cat will know that it has a safe and comfortable place to be alone.
The more comfortable your Westie gets with the cat’s litter box, the less likely your cat will be to use it. Unfortunately, this issue can lead to your cat using any other area of the house as their bathroom. It’s simply best to keep it separated.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
Westies have an incredible personality, and they are always eager to please their owners. They can also be quite sensitive, even when training on their own. With that said, when you introduce them to your cat, you’ll want to use positive reinforcement, as it can make the process more enjoyable.
Not only will you want to use praising words and actions, but you will also want to have a collection of the best training treats available. When they are friendly and calm around your cat, reward them with praise, action, and treat. Over time, they will be more likely to behave around the cat.
Another fantastic advantage of having treats or toys as positive reinforcement tools is that they can easily distract your Westie. If you find that they are getting too excited during the introduction, you can easily distract them away from your cat. After they have calmed, you can try the process again.
Can a Westie and cats get along? Possibly! With the right training methods and patience when introducing the two, you can build a healthy relationship that will grow stronger over time.
Although the best method is to raise them together, there are plenty of ways you can introduce a mature cat to an adult dog. This point is especially true if you have a collection of treats at your disposal. Our best advice is to learn more about Westies so that you can make the experience more enjoyable for the whole family.