Poodles and cats exist together in households the world over, but like most cohabiting creatures, these two animals can sometimes have personality conflicts. Making sure that you have a harmonious household with multiple kinds of pets means both training and setting up the environment in a way that makes both animals feel comfortable and safe.
Poodles can get along well with cats if they are properly trained to be tolerant of other animals. Poodles have high prey drives but aren’t known to be aggressive towards cats like other dog breeds. Introducing a poodle and cat properly can ensure their friendship.
Making sure poodles and cats get along can take some work, but it’s well worth the effort if you don’t want your pets to fight. Read on to learn more about how poodles and cats get along and what you can do to help them become (and stay) friends.
Poodle Temperament and Cats
It’s important to remember with poodles that this breed was historically designed to retrieve and hunt small game, as well as to herd other animals. Smaller Poodles were bred largely to be companion animals, and they tend to become very attached to their owners. This leaves Poodles with a few temperament traits that can be problematic when it comes to getting along with other animals like cats.
Here are some poodle temperament issues you should consider:
- Poodles are hunting dogs. Because Poodles have been taught to hunt and retrieve, they can sometimes have a strong prey drive that can lead them to attack and kill animals smaller than themselves. This can leave other household pets such as cats, rabbits, birds, and rodents in danger of being killed by the Poodle if they are left unsupervised together.
- Poodles are herding dogs. Historically, before they were ever used as hunting dogs, Poodles were used as herding dogs by Central European peoples. Therefore, many Poodles have a high energy level and a high measure of intelligence. Herding dogs, like poodles, tend to be slightly high-strung in comparison to other breeds. This can often manifest as aggression or high reactivity toward other animals.
- Poodles are emotionally sensitive. Because Poodles become very attached to their owners and they are emotionally sensitive, they can become jealous of other animals in the household, and this can sometimes manifest as aggression in some animals. Because Poodles have been bred for so long, some Poodle bloodlines can have congenital issues such as temperament problems.
- Poodles are active dogs. Standard Poodles are both active and large. Some dogs have a hard time knowing their strength and can accidentally injure a smaller animal in the household in an attempt to play with them or just by accidentally stepping on them.
- Poodles are friendly dogs. Poodles of all sizes have a naturally friendly temperament. If they are well socialized from a young age, this means they can be taught to tolerate and even enjoy the company of many different animal species.
There are some personality traits that Poodles have that makes them a good match with cats, and some personality traits that can potentially be challenging. How these traits show up varies from dog to dog.
Cat Temperament and Poodles
When it comes to cats getting along with Poodles, there is a lot more variability in cat behavior. Some cats are very aggressive towards dogs of any breed, and other cat breeds such as Maine Coon cats have a reputation for being forward and friendly with animals of all species.
The main conflict between cats and dogs, other than the prey drive of a larger dog toward smaller cats. is that dog body language and cat body language are very different. For example, a cat wagging its tail typically means that the cat is furious, but a dog wags its tail when it is both happy and aggressive, depending on other contextual cues.
Cats and dogs can eventually learn to “speak” each other’s languages and get along, but it usually means giving the two animals time to get to know each other and also making sure to introduce them correctly, so they don’t become enemies right out of the gate due to a misunderstanding or violence between the two. Since both Poodles and cats are sensitive, if they start on the wrong foot, they can theoretically feud for years.
What Types of Poodles Get Along with Cats?
It’s important to look at the different kinds of Poodles when it comes to choosing one that will get along well with cats.
Here are the three major types of poodles and how they get along with cats:
- Standard Poodles: These large Poodles are the closest Poodles to the old hunting line of the breed, and Standard Poodles are the most likely out of any Poodle type to show prey drive-based aggression toward smaller animals.
- Miniature Poodles: Miniature Poodles were bred as housepets and can get along well with cats well, but they are often poorly trained and can get in the habit of barking or snapping at other animals in the household if they aren’t socialized well early on. Miniature Poodles are a good choice to keep with cats because their smaller size means it’s harder for them to injure or kill a cat in a fight. It does make it more likely that they will lose a fight to the cat.
- Toy Poodles: The smallest Toy Poodles may be small enough to elicit the prey drive in cats rather than the other way around, especially if you have a Toy Poodle puppy that is as small as most animals that a cat would naturally try to catch and kill. As a result, Toy Poodles should be watched very carefully around housecats until they get large enough to defend themselves, and the cat should be watched carefully to make sure they don’t hurt the dog.
It all depends on how well the cat can tolerate being around the Poodle without starting a fight.
How to Train Your Poodle to Get Along with a Cat
When it comes to training your Poodle to get along with a cat, there are a few different training methods you need to look into:
- Socialization: Socialization is one of the most important aspects of training a dog, and socialization is most effective when it is done when the dog is young, beginning at around seven weeks and continuing throughout the dog’s life. Socialization teaches a dog to be calm and friendly around all kinds of new sensory stimuli and social interactions. The more thoroughly a puppy is socialized with various species of animals, the better they are with them as adults.
- Desensitization: In dogs that have a reactive personality or a strong prey drive, a training method often used is desensitization, which trains the dog to be non-reactive around a triggering object by re-directing their attention. Desensitization is a long, gradual process and can take months to accomplish to the point a reactive dog is deemed safe around smaller animals like cats.
- Positive reinforcement: When it comes to introducing cats and Poodles as housemates, positive reinforcement plays a huge role in making the animals more comfortable around each other. This involves training techniques such as feeding the animals at the same time so that they associate each other with food rewards and depositing items of one animal’s scent in the other’s territory so they can get used to the smell.
- Impulse control training: Impulse control commands for dogs (such as off-leash recall and long stay commands) can help to generally decrease a dog’s level of reactivity around small animals or other agitating stimuli, and also conditions the dog to look to their owners for direction before performing actions on their own. Poodles are independently intelligent and prone to act on their directives, so this is an instinct that must be curbed with cats.
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Training your Poodle in basic and advanced obedience can give you a strong advantage in teaching your Poodle to get along with any animal because your Poodle will be more inclined to listen to you before coming to their conclusions about a situation. If you train a Poodle the cat is friendly, a well-trained Poodle is more likely to go with your judgment call.
It’s also important to keep both the cat and the Poodle well under control during early attempts at socialization. Even a dog that has been through impulse control training might snap and attack a cat if the cat attacks and injures it first.
Tips to Help Poodles and Cats Get Along Better
Poodles and cats may not always get along, but there are several things that you can do as their owner to encourage them to get along.
Here are some ways that you can help Poodles and cats get along better:
- Introduce the two animals slowly. It’s a good idea to introduce the Poodle and cat through a closed door first where they can smell each other and interact under the door but can’t see each other. Then, the two should be introduced with a gate between them or with the Poodle on a leash where it can’t reach the cat. The cat and Poodle should not be left alone
- The Poodle should not be allowed to chase the cat – ever. For some dogs, this can lead to a heightened prey drive and can cause the dog to snap and attack the cat if they manage to catch them. Some cats and dogs will happily play games of tag and chase, but you need to know your animals already get along very well before tolerating any chasing games to make sure they’re safe together.
- Introduce the Poodle and cat through scent first. Putting some of the cat’s belongings in the dog’s crate or putting some of the dog’s belongings in the cat’s bed can help them get used to the scent of the other animal and not feel intimidated by it.
- Keep the Poodle leashed at first. Before you can be completely sure that your Poodle is safe around cats, it is better for the safety of the cat if the Poodle is restrained. Another good method to introduce control when introducing a Poodle and a cat face-to-face is to let the Poodle meet the cat from inside their closed crate. This lets the Poodle greet the cat from a safe territory, and the cat doesn’t have to worry about getting attacked by the dog.
- Feed the animals together. You don’t want to feed the Poodle and the cat directly side by side in case it prompts food-based aggression or resource protection behaviors in the dog, but feeding a Poodle and a cat together in the same room each day can help each animal associate the other with positive activities, which can help make them more relaxed around each other. Animals let down their guard when eating, and this reinforces camaraderie.
Making sure to introduce a Poodle and a cat to each other a little at a time and making sure you have each animal under control the entire time is key to making sure that Poodles and cats eventually get along with each other.
Tips to Prevent Your Poodle and Cat from Fighting
One of the most important ways to keep Poodles and cats from fighting is to make sure that each animal has their own space in the home where they can get away from each other.
Here are some other tips you can use to keep peace in the house between your Poodle and cat:
- Put the litterbox in a protected place. Cats are vulnerable when they’re using their litterbox, and if a Poodle corners a cat in the litterbox, there can be a serious fight. Keep the litterbox behind a gate that the dog can’t reach or place it inside of cabinetry with a hole in the side only large enough for the cat to get in through. This can also help prevent your Poodle from digging in your litterbox and eating cat poop. It’s a win-win solution.
- Give the cat plenty of escape routes. Make sure there are areas throughout the house where the cat can get under a piece of furniture or jump up into a high place to get away from the dog if the dog decides to chase them when you’re not around to stop it. Providing the cat with a cat tree or some similar piece of cat furniture can provide a safe place for the cat to escape the dog if the dog gets too rowdy.
- Make sure the cat’s claws stay short. Keep your cat’s claws clipped or ground down to prevent them from potentially causing serious eye injuries to your dog if they decide to take a swipe at the dog’s face in a conflict. On the flip side of this, do not leave cats around large Poodles that aren’t temperament-tested, as a cat will usually lose a fight to a large dog and can be killed.
- Do not leave the animals alone together until they are trusted friends. For the first few weeks or months that you’re introducing a Poodle and a cat, they need to be observed together carefully whenever they’re together. It only takes one incident for a cat to be badly injured or killed by a Standard Poodle. Likewise, a cat can badly injure a smaller Poodle if they fight while unsupervised. Make sure they get along before leaving them alone together.
Dogs and cats don’t have to be best friends to get along as roommates in a household. Just making sure that they have enough space between the two of them that they can avoid each other can lead to an air of tolerance in the house, which is the most you can expect from dogs and cats if they don’t naturally like each other.
Poodles Can Be Taught to Get Along with Cats
Whether a Poodle can get along with a cat or not depends a lot on how well trained they are and how tolerant of dogs the cat is. Unless you’re dealing with a very dog-aggressive cat, most cats will actively avoid a dog they don’t like, and if the Poodle is taught to ignore the cat, the two can co-exist peacefully.
The younger a Poodle and cat are when they’re introduced to each other, the better chance you have of getting the two to become friends and get along. But even older Poodles and cats can be taught to enjoy each other’s company if they’re introduced well.