Do Blue Heelers do well with cats?
Are Australian Cattle Dogs, (Blue and Red Heeler) good with cats? They have a bad reputation when it comes to getting along with cats. Is this true or not?
A well-socialized and trained Blue Heeler, in most cases, will get along fine with a cat in the home. They were originally bred to herd and have a strong chase instinct when it comes to small animals. Most Blue Heelers will do fine with a cat in the home as long as steps are taken to introduce them slowly.
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual Blue Heeler as to whether or not they like the family cat. Be aware however that they are likely to chase a cat from the neighborhood.
If you are thinking of getting an Australian Cattle Dog and already own a cat there should be no problem as long as they are introduced and socialized to get along. Animals that grow up together tend to form a close bond. If you are getting a Blue Heeler puppy it should be fine.
If you already have a Blue Heeler and are wanting to get a kitten or cat this should also be possible. Again it is important to take the right steps when introducing them to get the relationship off to a good start and see if there are any problems. A Blue Heeler can learn to be good with any animal with the right introduction, training, and a little patience. This can even include chickens. For more about Blue Heelers with chickens see here.
Can a Blue Heeler kill a cat?
Blue Heelers can have a bad reputation for being aggressive towards not only cats but also people and other dogs. However, this is not the case for a Blue Heeler that is well trained and socialized. For more on Australian Cattle Dog aggression see here.
Although the average Blue Heeler will probably chase a cat they see it is most likely a game rather than to hunt or kill them. Blue Heelers are a breed with a strong chase instinct due to their herding background. You can’t completely train an instinct out of a dog, but with management and training, you can avoid problem situations.
A Blue Heeler could seriously injure or even kill a cat if they wanted to. However, it is reasonably unlikely unless they have shown aggression towards cats before. In most cases, they will chase or want to play with a cat. It is more of a game.
If your Blue Heeler has shown aggression or killed a cat before it is unlikely that they will ever get along with cats.
Considerations before introducing a Blue Heeler and cat
There are a few things you will need to consider before deciding to introduce a new pet to the home, whether that is a new kitten or cat or a new Blue Heeler.
You will need to take into account the scenario of the situation. Each situation will need to be considered to know how successful it will be.
- A Blue Heeler puppy and kitten entered the home at the same time.
- Blue Heeler puppy entering the home of an existing cat
- Kitten or cat entering the home of an existing Blue Heeler.
- another situation
History of the Blue Heeler
Does your Blue Heeler have a history of chasing cats? Have they shown aggression towards cats before? Your Heeler’s past behavior with cats will give a good indication of how this situation may go. If they see a new cat their natural instincts will kick in.
If they haven’t been good with cats in the past it is unlikely that things will go well.
The cat’s history and nature
If you have an existing cat and are considering getting a Blue Heeler, the past reaction of the cat to dogs will be an indication of their reaction to a new dog. If you are getting a rescue cat, try to get as much background information as you can about them.
How many dogs do you have
If you have more than one dog, whether it is another Blue Heeler or not, it may be more difficult to bring a cat into the home. The dogs may form a pack and gang up on the cat.
The age of the Blue Heeleror cat
It is often better to adopt an adult cat if you have an adult Blue Heeler. Although your Blue Heeler may not intentionally harm a kitten it may be too rough for them.
If you are getting or have a Blue Heeler puppy, it is a good idea to get a kitten. Pets that grow up together usually become very bonded and close friends.
If you have an existing cat and are getting a Blue Heeler puppy, take the time to introduce them slowly. Puppies can be full-on and it may annoy the cat. The last thing you want is the cat to scratch the puppy possibly causing them to lose an eye.
How will your Blue Heeler react to a cat?
There are several possibilities when introducing a Blue Heeler to a cat for the first time.
- They get excited. In this situation, they may lunge or sniff at them vigorously. They may even chase them without intending to harm them. If the Blue Heeler’s body language is relaxed and playful they simply want to play with the cat. Often they may see the cat as something to herd. However, be aware that the cat may not be so keen.
- They become anxious. The Blue Heeler may be unsure of the cat and keep its distance. In general, this is not the case as most Blue Heelers are outgoing and playful. Don’t force them to interact and take things slowly.
- The Blue Heeler and cat are fine together. In many cases, the Blue Heeler and cat will accept each other in a short time. It is still important to introduce them slowly. Watch their interactions to be fully confident there is no problem. If the cat was to swipe at the Blue Heeler, it may react.
How to introduce a Blue Heeler and cat
Whether you are bringing a Blue Heeler puppy into a home with an existing cat or a new kitten or cat into a Blue Heeler’s home, it is important to take things slowly. Trying to force them upon each other can create a conflict that will make it more difficult to make the situation work.
Australian Cattle Dogs are high energy and smart (learn just how smart here). They are always looking for a job to do. Ensuring that your Blue Heeler is getting sufficient daily exercise and lots of mental stimulation and enrichment to tire and calm their minds will make the whole process of introducing a cat easier.
Familiarize them both with each other scent.
Animals have an incredible sense of smell. Use a cloth or towel and wipe it down your cat’s body. Allow your Blue Heeler to sniff it or even put it in their bed so they can become accustomed to the scent. Do the same with your Blue Heeler.
Separate them both at first.
Avoid face-to-face contact for the first few days. If you are bringing a new cat into the home they will need time to settle and become adjusted to their new environment. Keep them in rooms that are adjacent to each other so they can smell and be aware of the presence of each other without seeing each other.
Feed them on opposite sides of the same door.
Feed your pets on either side of the same door and at the same time. Continue this until both are comfortable eating with the door separating them.
Have short face to face meetings
Once you feel that they are both ready you can start to conduct short face-to-face interactions. Do this in a neutral area. Not the rooms that you have set up as their base. Be sure that the cat can escape if they want to.
Put your Blue Heeler on a leash and have them sit. Allow your cat to move around the room freely and explore at its own pace. Reward your Blue Heeler with treats for being calm and showing good behavior. It is better if your Blue Heeler acts more interested in the treats than the cat.
Repeat this process several times a day and keep it for short periods of time. Short frequent meetings are better than a long session where either pet may become stressed or agitated.
Your Blue Heeler may try to test how the cat reacts when they get close. If that happens tell them to stay and give them a treat. At first, you will need to supervise all interactions together.
As they get more comfortable with each other you can allow more close contact.
Another option is to put your Blue Heeler in a crate and allow the cat to roam freely in the room.
After multiple interactions and simultaneous feedings, let your pets loose inside a room and observe how they interact with each other. If your Blue Heeler and cat show tolerance of each other’s presence you can have confidence that they can hang out together and become close friends.
Signs of cat aggression towards your Blue Heeler
It is just as important to be aware of signs of aggression by the cat as much as by the Blue Heeler. The only concern is not the Blue Heeler harming the cat. Cats are capable of doing real harm and injury to a dog. There are many examples of dogs that lost an eye from a conflict with a cat.
Signs of fear and aggression in cats include –
- tail tucked under their body
- crouching and leaning away
- ears flattened sideways
- fluffed up fur
- bearing teeth
- hissing or growling
- swiping at the dog
- pupils of their eyes dilate wide
- claws extended
If a cat is showing these signs towards your Blue Heeler allow the space and an escape route from the dog. It is better for the cat to leave than have them resort to a fight response if they are trapped.
Summary – Are Blue Heelers good with cats
Despite having a bad reputation with cats, Blue Heelers can get along fine with cats as long as they are introduced slowly.
Blue Heelers do have a strong chase instinct when it comes to small animals. Often they may try to herd the cat. If they do chase them it is usually a game rather than an attempt to do harm. Ultimately it comes down to the individual Blue Heeler and how they will do with a cat. If they have shown aggressive behavior towards cats in the past, it is likely that they will not get on with cats in the future without a lot of training.