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Are Australian Shepherds Good With Cats?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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The Australian Shepherd is a beautiful dog. Aussies can play multiple roles. So, whether you’re looking for a working dog or a home pet, this breed can be your perfect choice. These dogs are super intelligent, loyal, affectionate, and playful. However, are Australian Shepherds good with cats?

The Aussies are herding dogs. As such, they get along with livestock and people. These pups are obedient and love to please. Aussies excel at herding. Even though they sometimes use nipping to keep the animals in order, they still agree with each other.

However, some might wonder if the Aussie gets along with other home animals. For example, cats. I asked myself the same question. Therefore, I talked to some Aussie owners and canine behaviorists. Here’s what I managed to find out:

Key Takeaway

  • Australian Shepherds can get along well with cats, particularly when they are properly trained and socialized from a young age, although their natural herding instincts may sometimes lead to chasing.
  • Introducing an Australian Shepherd to a cat involves gradual exposure, allowing them to share each other’s scent, using distractions like toys, providing treats and praise, and never forcing interaction, while always ensuring the dog is on a leash during initial meetings for controlled introductions.

Are Australian Shepherds Good With Cats?

Australian Shepherds generally have a good rapport with cats, particularly when they are socialized and trained from a young age, though their herding instincts can sometimes lead to chasing behavior.

The Australian Shepherd is a brilliant animal. They are not aggressive and have no desire to hurt smaller animals. Therefore, they are a good pair with a cat. However, this is very individual. Like humans, dogs, too, have personalities.

While some pups will have no problem sharing the home with a cat, some might dislike it. Also, friendship is a two-way street. Maybe your Aussie will love your cat, but the cat won’t be too thrilled about the dog’s presence.

The first problem that might occur is the herding instinct of the Aussies. These dogs tend to herd everything that moves. The cat might be the Aussie’s herding subject, in lack of sheep. Aussies tend to be bossy, and so do cats. However, this issue can be resolved with proper training.

The second obstacle that you may face is the activity level of the Australian Shepherd. These dogs have the energy to run and play all day long. And believe me, they will. While cats tend to spend most of their days sleeping, Aussies love to hang around.

This might be especially problematic if your cat is older while the Aussie is still a pup. However, proper exercise will decrease the dog’s need to be active in the house. Wear off your Aussie for at least two to three hours a day to overcome this obstacle.

And lastly, the Aussies create strong bonds with their humans. While not exceedingly jealous, they are possessive, especially of their favorite person. So, if your dog sees the cat in your lap, you might have a problem. However, Australian Shepherds are not aggressive by nature and will never harm a cat. Although, expect some barking and funny behavior.

Yet, all of these problems are easily solvable. Just give both the animals to get used to one another. It would be best if you get them at the same time. A puppy Aussie and a baby kitty will get along very well. They will learn to live together as they grow older, despite their differences. After all, having lazy and active pets simultaneously should be super entertaining.

How Do You Introduce an Australian Shepherd To a Cat?

Introducing an Australian Shepherd to a cat involves a gradual and controlled process that includes scent familiarization, controlled visual introductions, and monitored physical interactions.

Initial Scent Familiarization

To begin with, it’s recommended to familiarize each pet with the other’s scent. This could be done by swapping blankets or toys between the cat and the Australian Shepherd or letting them explore each other’s living spaces (without the other present) to get used to their respective smells.

Controlled Visual Introductions

Once they are comfortable with each other’s scent, you can move on to controlled visual introductions. This involves letting them see each other from a distance, with a physical barrier like a baby gate between them. It’s crucial to maintain a calm and relaxed atmosphere during these introductions, rewarding calm behavior with treats and praise.

Monitored Physical Interactions

The final step is allowing physical interaction under close supervision. Keep your Australian Shepherd on a leash initially to prevent any chasing behavior. Allow them to sniff and investigate each other, but always closely monitor their behavior. If either pet shows signs of stress or aggression, calmly separate them and try again later.

How Do I Stop My Australian Shepherd From Chasing My Cats?

  1. Training: Teach basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “leave it”.
  2. Leash Control: Keep your dog on a leash when the cat is around.
  3. Distraction: Use toys or treats to distract your dog from the cat.
  4. Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward your dog for ignoring the cat.
  5. Separation: Keep them in separate rooms when unsupervised.
  6. Professional Help: Consider hiring a professional trainer if needed.

The first step is to make sure that your Australian Shepherd is getting enough exercise. If your Australian Shepherd is bored, he may be more likely to chase your cats. Make sure that you are taking your dog for walks or playing with him in the yard regularly.

If your Australian Shepherd is still chasing your cats, you may need to start using a training collar. There are collars that can be used to shock or spray your dog when he starts to chase the cats. You can also use a behavior modification technique called “counterconditioning.”

This involves teaching your Australian Shepherd to associate positive things with the sight of the cats. For example, you could give your dog treats every time he sees the cats. Over time, he will learn that being near the cats is a good thing says The Smart Canine.

The final step is to continue reinforcing the positive behaviors and keep an eye on your pet to make sure he is not reverting back to his old habits. Be patient as modifying behavior takes time, but eventually, you should see a change in your dog’s behavior around the cats.

If you are still having trouble getting your Australian Shepherd to stop chasing the cats, you may need to consult with a professional trainer. He or she can help you develop a behavior modification plan that will work best for your dog.

Are Australian Shepherds Aggressive?

Many people are unsure if Australian Shepherds are aggressive dogs because of their herding history. The truth is that Australian Shepherds can be quite territorial and protective of their family and property, but they are not inherently aggressive dogs. With proper socialization and training, Australian Shepherds can be great family pets.

If you are considering adding an Australian Shepherd to your family, it is important to be aware of their personality traits and how to properly train and socialize them. Australian Shepherds need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, so make sure you have the time to commit to training and exercising your dog.

Australian Shepherds are usually not aggressive towards cats. However, some individual dogs might be prone to aggression. They are also a loud breed. Expect some barking when your pup is around your cat. However, aggressive behavior in Aussies is neutralized with proper training.

Socialization is essential for these dogs. The earlier you start the process, the better. And what better way to socialize your dog than to have it share the roof with another pet?


Q: What should I consider before introducing an Australian Shepherd to my cat?

A: Before introducing an Australian Shepherd to your cat, consider the temperament and energy level of both animals. Australian Shepherds are known for their herding instincts and high energy, so it’s important to make sure they are trained and well-behaved around cats. Additionally, assess your cat’s temperament and previous experience with dogs to determine if they are likely to tolerate or be scared of a new canine companion.

Q: How can I introduce an Australian Shepherd to my cat?

A: When introducing an Australian Shepherd to your cat, it’s important to start slowly and gradually. Begin by allowing them to sniff each other’s scents through a closed door or baby gate. Then, you can gradually allow controlled visual interactions and, if both animals are comfortable, supervised face-to-face interactions. Always monitor their interactions closely and be prepared to intervene if any signs of aggression or anxiety arise.

Q: What signs should I look for to determine if my Australian Shepherd and cat are getting along?

A: Signs that your Australian Shepherd and cat are getting along include relaxed body language, playful interactions, mutual grooming, and comfortable coexistence in shared spaces. However, it’s important to note that it may take time for them to establish a positive relationship, and some occasional disagreements are normal.

Q: Can an Australian Shepherd be trained to get along with cats?

A: Yes, Australian Shepherds can be trained to get along with cats. Early socialization and training are crucial in teaching them appropriate behavior around cats. Gradual introductions, positive reinforcement training, and consistent supervision can help ensure a harmonious relationship between an Australian Shepherd and a cat.

Q: What steps can I take to help an Australian Shepherd and cat coexist peacefully?

A: To help an Australian Shepherd and a cat coexist peacefully, provide each pet with their own safe space, such as separate sleeping areas or hiding spots. Implement a regular routine that includes individual attention and exercise for both pets. Properly manage any resource-guarding behaviors, such as food or toys, to prevent conflicts. Lastly, continue to reinforce positive interactions and reward calm behavior.

Q: Are there any risks associated with Australian Shepherds and cats living together?

A: While Australian Shepherds can generally get along well with cats, there are some risks to consider. Australian Shepherds have herding instincts, which may lead to chasing behaviors that can be stressful for cats. Additionally, if an Australian Shepherd becomes too rough during play, it can accidentally harm a smaller cat.

Q: Can I adopt an Australian Shepherd if I already have a cat?

A: Yes, you can adopt an Australian Shepherd if you already have a cat. However, it’s important to carefully consider the temperament of both your cat and the Australian Shepherd before making the decision. Proper introductions and ongoing management will be crucial for their successful cohabitation.

Q: Should I get a puppy or an adult Australian Shepherd if I have a cat?

A: Whether you should get a puppy or an adult Australian Shepherd when you already have a cat depends on various factors. Puppies require more time, patience, and training to learn proper behavior around cats, while adult Australian Shepherds may already have some training and socialization experience. Consider your lifestyle, previous experience with dogs, and the specific needs of your cat before making a decision.

Q: Can an Australian Shepherd and a cat become best friends?

A: Yes, an Australian Shepherd and a cat can develop a close bond and become best friends. However, this depends on the personalities and temperaments of both animals. Some Australian Shepherds may have a stronger prey drive or be less inclined to befriend a cat, while others may thrive in a feline-canine friendship. Patience, proper introductions, and ongoing positive interactions can increase the chances of them forming a strong bond.

In Conclusion

As you can see, Aussies get along with everyone. These dogs are almost perfect the way they are. They are aloof with strangers but cordial with others. Isn’t that what we all want from our dogs? The Aussie is a pup that will be our friend and protect us simultaneously.

However, they need to be socialized. Hence, the almost perfect part. If not, you can face some severe issues. Take your dog to the dog park and let it interact with other animals and people. Once the Aussie learns it can trust, it will become the best pet you’ve ever had. And yes, your cat will agree with you.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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