Do German Shepherds and Cats Get Along? Tom and Jerry taught us two things, cats and mice, and dogs and cats do not get along.
How true is this though? Personally, I grew up with a German shepherd. From a very young age, the German Shepherd was not friendly to cats around the neighborhood.
During walks, he would angrily bark at cats, and given the opportunity, he would start a chase.
The belief that a harmonious relationship cannot exist between cats and most dogs, including German Shepherds, was etched in my mind because of this experience. So we tried and these were our findings.
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German Shepherds and Cats
Do German Shepherds and Cats Get Along? Yes, German Shepherds and cats can get along; however, you would need to have a ‘can-do attitude’ about training or socializing a German Shepherd to either ignore a cat or become more friendly to a cat.
This is especially easy if the German Shepherd is still young. But, remember, that all dogs are different, and each experience will be different.
With that, let us delve a little into the world of German Shepherds and cats and understand how these two lovely creatures can get along, and what you and I as pet owners need to do to ensure both the German Shepherds and Cats do not kill each other when brought under the same roof.
German Shepherds Personalities
German Shepherds are one of the most loyal, sociable, loving, protective, and intelligent dogs.
They are high-energy dogs who grow up to be large (Height 1-2.5 feet, Weight 75-95 pounds), active, and powerful with very strong gathering, protective and herding instincts, typically having a life span of 10 to 14 years.
Originally bred for herding, they would gather, protect, and herd different kinds of livestock; this of course was an energy-intensive task.
The dogs were comfortable with all the exercise involved, as they are naturally active. With time, the military adopted the German Shepherd as the official guard dog.
The German Shepherds adaptability, obedience, socialization, and guard instincts made it a compatible breed for training.
Not long after this, the dog was adopted in many different households across America and all over the world. Currently, it is the breed of choice for the military, acting as a guide dog, guard dog, police dog, and, search and rescue dog.
Living with a German Shepherd
For many people having a German Shepherd means that you are protected. You are well guarded and you can be sure that no intruder will go unnoticed.
However, this also means that you will start living an active lifestyle to ensure your German Shepherd does not become bored and resort to destructive methods of energy expulsion.
According to Embora Pets, German Shepherds are curious, intelligent, and active dogs. In their younger days, they are cute and cuddly, but as they grow, they require added time to play, chase, and work towards attaining their owners’ success and happiness.
Because of this character trait, they easily take up a person’s time and energy playing, and interacting with their owners, this, of course, includes coming to lay down their 75-95 pound body on your lap (if that is how they were raised).
Even at a young age, German Shepherd Puppies are known to play for long periods. Because of their history and DNA make-up, German Shepherds will want a lot of attention. They have a lot of energy, being raised as farm dogs, and so have a desire to play and complete tasks.
Unlike other dogs that like to be cuddled, German Shepherd puppies, as cute and cuddly as they are, do not like to be carried around all day.
These pups love to play rough. For this reason, make sure your puppy has all the dog toys and ropes they may need for play and activities to do by the end of the day, otherwise, they will adopt more destructive methods of play.
German Shepherds and Cats-do they like each other
We have established that German Shepherds are active, loyal, and protective. They thrive in an environment where there is a lot of play and attention.
On the other side, cats are independent and can do well on their own. When introduced to new situations, they will generally be wary and seek refuge by hiding. Is it wise to leave the two animals alone to sort out their relationship?
No, in some instances, German Shepherds and cats end up having a peaceful relationship without any training on the pet owner’s side; however, this is not always the case and a controlled introduction is better advised.
Why do German Shepherds like Chasing Cats?
Anything German Shepherds Notes, German Shepherds enjoy chasing cats due to their herding instinct and high prey drive.
Historically, German Shepherds are herding dogs known to chase after cows, sheep, and other livestock, rounding them up and pushing them towards a certain goal, for example, into the pen, to walk on one side of the road, etc.
For this reason, when a German Shepherd is introduced to a cat, the cat may feel threatened and start running away from the dog.
When the German Shepherd sees this, it will instinctively chase after the cat. This may result in injuries of both pets as the German Shepherd may land on the cat injuring the poor ten-pound animal or get run over by oncoming traffic.
Because different dogs react differently, it is crucial to ensure that you minimize the risk of this happening by training both your German Shepherds and cats to get used to each other’s presence before you formally introduce them.
Will a German Shepherd kill my cat?
As they say, cats have seven lives haha yes killing a cat is not easy but certainly not impossible especially if we are putting them against the german shepherd.
Depending on how you introduce your German shepherds and cats, it is highly possible for both the cat and German Shepherd to injure one another.
If they are not sociable and amicably relating to one another, then any act of aggression may unintentionally lead the German Shepherd to aggressively attack and kill your kitten. As German Shepherds Owner notes, German Shepherds are known to kill small animals.
However, if the German Shepherd and cat have been socialized well, then the likelihood that the Germans Shepherd would kill the cat is very minimal.
Unless, the two are playing and the German Shepherd, which weighs close to 100 pounds, accidentally lands on the cat which weighs 10 pounds. In such a rare scenario, the cat may end up getting severely injured badly.
Will My German Shepherd be Good with Cats?
Many German Shepherd owners, depending on the length of time they have cared for and handled their pet, have a rough idea of what their dog is like and the kind of reaction it may have to share its home with a cat.
When your German Shepherd has the following characteristics, then the likelihood of getting along with the cat is high.
Age of the German Shepherd
The younger the German Shepherd, the more open they will be to sharing their home with a cat. Introducing both the cat and the German Shepherd in the first few months of their life guarantees that the two become adaptable to the presence of the other.
The relationship will easily thrive. Both the cat and German Shepherd may start playing together and quickly form a tight relationship not noticing their differences. This does not mean that a cat cannot be introduced to a German Shepherd whose older.
With proper training, the German Shepherd can learn to live with the cat, but the effort required to teach an older dog is far much more than that required for a younger pup.
Socialization of the GSD
How sociable the GSD is can give you an idea of how it will interact with the cat. If your German Shepherd has a strong protective instinct, it may act aggressively towards any pet that comes near its home.
Consequently, if it has a strong prey drive, it may continuously chase after, bark, or act aggressively towards squirrels, other pets, and cats.
So, for this, the rule of thumb should be, if your German Shepherd has more negative experiences with other pets, then the likelihood is that it will react negatively to the presence of a Cat in its environment and vice versa.
Having trained your German Shepherd to be accommodating of other pets, including cats, does not necessarily mean it is sociable. Your dog may have all the exposure to other pets, but its reaction to living with a cat may entirely differ.
If your dog has an attention-seeking temperament, constantly looking for attention and wanting to be pampered all through, then it may react negatively to the presence of a cat in the home.
If your dog is also stingy and does not like sharing its toys or space, then it is likely that it will not want added company in the house. However, if your GSD is laid-back and easy-going, there is a higher likelihood for it to be good with cats.
German Shepherds and cats are different, GSD was bred to have higher prey drives due to their working nature. They enjoy chasing after other animals, especially those that make sudden movements and can move around very quickly. Well, cats fit this exact description.
If your German Shepherd has a high prey drive, the likelihood that it may not get along with a cat is high. Observe your dog’s behavior when out on walks. If it quickly lunges after squirrels, cats, and other fast-moving animals, most likely it may not live well with a cat without proper training.
A step By Step Guide to introducing German shepherds and cats
Introducing german shepherds and cats without prior warning can be harmful to both the cat and dog. To prevent a German Shepherd from reacting negatively to the presence of a cat, we recommend these simple steps;
Step 1: Introduce Scents
During the first few days, keep both your German Shepherds and cats in two separate rooms and spend time with each pet individually without bias. Take a towel or blanket which your cat has been using and introduce it to your German Shepherd’s space.
Do the same for your cat as well. If either of them sniffs the towel, German Shepherd Dog HQ advises to either praise or offer a treat to develop a positive association with the scent.
Additionally, Susan Parrets advises placing your cat and German Shepherds’ food on either side of the door.
This will ensure that while they are eating, they smell the other’s scent and associate the scent with something good.
Step 2: Expose your Pets with a Barrier in place
After you notice that your pet is no longer, barking, your cat is no longer hissing, and both pets seem accustomed to the scent of the other, then it is time to try a controlled introduction.
German Shepherd Dog HQ Suggests exposing the two pets through a glass door, Susan Parrets suggests keeping the dog on a leash and allowing the cat to explore the room, other articles suggest having one of the pets, preferably the German Shepherd, caged or barricaded from having quick access to the cat.
Whichever method you decide this is a great way to see how they both react to the other without any contact whatsoever. Continue introducing the two pets in this manner for longer and longer periods until they get used to seeing each other.
Step 4: Barricaded Introduction
Once they get used to seeing each other, it is time to try an interactive introduction where they meet each other, either through a barricaded gate, or something similar.
Allow the pets to sniff each other and get some contact while keeping them safe to prevent any harm from any pet reacting aggressively. Continue with this step until you are confident that the two pets are ready to be officially introduced in person.
Step 5: Face-to-Face Meeting
Once the cat and German Shepherd become comfortable around each other, then allow them to interact without any barriers; however, keep your German Shepherd on a leash. Stay with the two pets supervising their interaction for the first few times.
Remember this as you try to get your german shepherds and cats to get along
Set your pace.
Do not rush to complete the introduction process without adequately checking whether the two pets are comfortable with each other.
Take your time at each stage making unbiased judgments on the progress of both the cat and German Shepherd.
Do not punish them when they react aggressively.
When they first meet, the German Shepherd may instinctively lunge, bark or growl at the cat. On the other hand, the cat may hiss and scratch.
Do not punish the two pets as this is natural for them. Instead, positively reinforce their behavior when they become playful or calm down.
Stay Calm as well.
The process of getting your cat and German Shepherd to know each other is one that takes time and energy. If you are nervous and agitated, your GSD can detect this in you and may associate the presence of the cat with danger.
The protective instinct may kick in leading the German Shepherd to believe the cat is a bad influence, so be sure to remain calm and collected is as positive and patient as possible.
Do not force the two pets to like each other.
Remember that each of your pets has its own personality and they cannot remain amicable forever. There are times when they will argue, quarrel, and even fight.
Remember to respect the pets’ boundaries and let them do what is comfortable for each of them.
Can Cats and German Shepherds get along?
On the other hand, you may be a cat owner looking for solutions on how to introduce a German Shepherd. To guarantee that both your Cat and German Shepherd can get along, it is not enough to just have your German Shepherd trained, it is also crucial to check your cat’s personality.
Cats Personality Trait
You may be asking why is it important that I learn about a cat’s personality? Well, it is quite simple, you may have a German Shepherd that has all the right attributes; however, if your cat is naturally inclined towards Dominance or neuroticism, the relationship between the cat and German shepherd may not prosper.
Therefore, consider not only the dog’s personality but also the cat’s temperaments and their previous socialization.
Cat Life and Personality
Cats are naturally independent. They tend to be reserved and cautious but they can also be sociable when placed in the right situations.
Nevertheless, this does not mean all cats will be sociable. Just like humans, cats come with their own unique personalities and one has to get to know them to identify which they belong.
Researchers from the University of South Australia (Litchfield et al., (2017) ) studied different felines, through their owners, and came up with a Cat personality Index, similar to the Human Personality index. The researchers were able to come up with The Feline Five
Neurotic Traits – These cats are skittish. They are generally anxious, fearful, suspicious, and insecure. When visitors or other pets are around, they typically run and hide. You will not catch them comfortably walking as they are typically afraid of scary situations. However, with time, once they learn they are safe, their confidence slowly builds up.
Extraversion Traits – These are cats that are outgoing, hyperactive, and ready to face the world. They are curious and/or nosy, often needing a lot more mental stimulation, as they get bored easily. So, if your cat has this personality trait and is inadequately stimulated, they may result in more destructive behavior to expel their pent-up energy.
Dominant Trait – Dominant cats are those who hog everything. They will not share toys, food, or their litter box. They often display the highest levels of aggression, and can even start a fight with pets bigger than they are. They are bullies, spelling difficulty in the relationship between themselves and German Shepherds, among other pets.
Impulsive Trait – Impulsive cats are ‘run first and ask later’ type of cats. They are typically reckless and erratic jumping at everything. Once it jumps, be sure that the German Shepherd will chase after the cat instinctively reacting to its herding and prey drive. Such cats often take time to cope with changes in their environments and hence require time to adapt to new situations.
Agreeable Trait – This cat gets along with everyone. It is the sanguine of felines, friendly, happy, and easily sociable, even with other household pets. Often, an agreeable cat is one that was well socialized as a kitten. This is the ideal Cat Personality to live happily with a German Shepherd.
Conclusion: Can German Shepherds and Cats get along?
Truly, cats and German Shepherds can get along. As a pet owner, you just need to be practical in how you introduce the two pets. Placing the two pets in a room and hoping for the best, even at a young age can be dangerous for both pets.
Hence, take time to set a schedule, gradually introducing the two pets and ensuring that they are safe from any danger imposed by the other. But, remember that not all German Shepherds and cats are the same.
If the cat and dog can still not get along after a long time, then it is okay to separate them before one gets fatally hurt.
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