Owning a border collie comes along with a range of considerations and challenges. One that you may have could be around housing multiple pets. But what about cats? Do border collies and cats get along well with one another and can they peacefully co-exist in your home? Intrigued and needing to know this myself, I decided to conduct some research. The following is a culmination of what I have been able to find.
So, are border collies good with cats? Border collies can be good with cats. Or at least, they can get along with cats living in their homes if they are trained and socialized accordingly. Border Collies naturally have strong herding instincts, and cats can end up on the receiving end of this.
Every border collie is different; some are likely to get along better with cats than others.
But in order to properly assess this question, we need to look into the specifics of the breed.
Border collies were bred initially as sheepdogs, and these highly intelligent dogs love nothing more than to be put to work.
Today this pooch makes an ideal pet because of their friendly temperament and playful nature.
To own a border collie is a bit of an undertaking as it’s a lot of work keeping these dogs occupied, but you will enjoy teaching your border collie new tricks.
Owning a cat at the same time takes it up another level. But thankfully, it can be done with the right mindset and approach.
Let us now take a closer look at how these two animals typically do alongside one another before we move onto some introduction, socialization and training tips.
Border Collies And Cats
As previously mentioned, border collies are natural herders with a range of specific skills and behaviors. It’s in their blood to herd anything mobile, including cats.
Some border collies may have a lower herding impulse than others, but if your border collie is a herder, they may decide that herding your cat is their appointed duty. The good news is that they won’t mean any harm.
When these dogs herd sheep, they use a very intense stare and make eye contact with the sheep. Then they bark, even baring their teeth if sheep do not respond or begin to move.
Your cat won’t appreciate being on the receiving end of this treatment, so you must supervise their interactions.
You may notice your border collie following your cat around the house, as if trying to guide them. They may even chase them, particularly cats outside.
So, you need to keep a close eye on this behavior as herding can involve nipping, which might cause injury to your/ a local cat.
Generally speaking, cats prefer to be left alone and may not enjoy the company of other pets, particularly one that is bossing them around.
A playful kitten may enjoy being chased and might be an excellent companion to a border collie.
If your cat likes fun and games, they and your Border Collie might get along quite well and will enjoy their time together.
This is, of course, is most likely to occur if your border collie and cat have been socialized properly.
For better outcomes, a border collie that is raised around cats will likely result in better success.
The most ideal situation is for a new border collie puppy to come into a home that already has one or more cats. This way, your collie will be used to being around them from a young age. They will be raised around the cats and will not know anything different.
Being raised with cats will naturally teach them to associate cats with their environment and fellow members of the family.
But, if you are introducing a kitten/cat to your home after you have had a border collie for some time, for the most part, some training will be in order. In the next section we will look at some practical things that you can do.
Cat Training Your Border Collie
A border collie herding a cat might be well-intentioned, but it can lead to injuries for the cat if nipping is involved. And it likely will be.
With proper training, you can prevent herding behavior and teach your border collie and cat to get on well and treat each other as equals.
It is easier to train a border collie when they are a puppy (as puppies are fast learners), preferably younger than 12 weeks old.
If your puppy is raised with cats, there is less of a chance that he will see cats as animals that need herding. Border collies that have been brought up with cats as puppies are less likely to behave aggressively.
You can encourage your puppy to engage in play with your cats, just make sure that all interactions are gentle. If you see your pup nipping your cat, you must separate the two straight away.
Whenever your puppy interacts well with your cat or cats, be sure to fuss and give your dog (and cat) a treat each every time. Both need rewarding for this behavior and you want to promote good behavior as much as possible.
You must never punish your dog, even if you disagree with the way they are behaving with your cat.
Border collies are intelligent, and if you are consistent with training, they will understand what behavior is and isn’t tolerated.
Another factor to consider is boredom. Boredom often leads to aggressive behavior in dogs.
Make sure that your border collie gets lots of daily exercise; this is essential as this breed requires a lot of activity and movement.
Hyperactivity can get your dog into all kinds of mischief. If your pooch is bored, they may resort to herding your cat.
This dog breed requires at least one hour of exercise each day; puppies generally need more exercise than this.
A good strategy is to purchase a ball launcher, like this excellent product on Amazon, and routinely play fetch with them in your backyard/garden or on walks. This will save a repetitive strain injury in your arm and ensure you give them plenty of exercise and opportunity to run around.
Beyond this, aside from many brisk walks or runs, get your border collie to play games like tug and frisbee, believe it or not, these lively games get your dog to calm down.
When border collies are young, they do exceptionally well at most canine sports, so consider enrolling your dog in any one of these classes to burn off his excessive energy.
Training Supplies You Will Need
Before you can begin training, you must have a list of items to effectively do so.
The list of things must include a playpen (the MidWest one from Amazon is ideal). You can then separate your border collie from your cat.
You will also need a long leash and toys.
Make sure that you have a good supply of doggie treats; you can break these up into small pieces and offer them to your dog as a reward for good behavior.
Things To Consider When Cat Training Your Border Collie
Make sure that your cat or cats have a safe place when they need to escape your dog.
Occasionally, even a well-trained border collie might attempt to herd and chase cats once in a while, so your cat must have a means of escape.
If your cat doesn’t have a place to run to, they will likely become aggressive toward your border collie. Aggression coming from either animal should not be tolerated.
When you are away from home, make sure that you put your puppy in a crate, so that you can monitor their behavior with your cats until they are fully socialized.
Perhaps the best way to train your border collie and to eradicate bad behavior is with an effective home training program.
There are also three particular methods that work well when training your border collie to be social and friendly with cats. These are:
The Distraction Method
The idea here is to keep your border collie distracted and to refrain from the need of herding/chasing a cat.
You can do so by playing fetch, or through games like tug of war. This will help to tire your border collie out and also let them relieve some aggression and let of some steam.
Regularly feeding of treats, rewards and offering praise will also incentivize your border collie to act better in the presence of cats.
Be consistent and make it clear that you will not tolerate such bad behavior. Each time you let things slide, you are pushing back the end goal.
The Environment Method
Another excellent approach is to set up your environment for success.
Ensure that you have separate places for your border collie and cat(s) to go, and safe areas for them to feel comfortable. You may need to consider getting cat flaps installed.
You should be socializing them at specific times and when you are around to ensure this goes well and to plan.
The Deterrence Method
The deterrence method involves actively trying to isolate your border collie and cat from one another, and usually follows a period of unsuccessful socialization.
Baby gates and using long leashes can work particularly well here. They can prevent any chasing and any herding behavior from being attempted.
Border collies can certainly get along with cats, as long as a good relationship is fostered between them.
It is really up to you as the owner to encourage gentle play and interactions between your border collie and the cat.
You must be consistent when training your border collie to behave well with the cat and not allow the border collie to become bored as this can lead to trouble.
Border collies have lots of energy that needs to be channeled the right way.
This breed excels at so many canine sports that signing up your border collie to one of these classes is an excellent way to burn off some energy. Of course, regular walks and play are equally effective.
Border collies will not generally attempt to attack a cat. However, due to their herding instincts and nature may attempt to herd them like they would livestock. A natural part of herding is ‘nipping’ which will not likely be received very well by your cat. For this reason, it is important to keep an eye on a border collie when they are around cats. Proper training and specific techniques can help reduce herding behavior and the likelihood of nipping.
A border collie may stare at cat as part of their instinctual herding behavior. While this is entirely natural for a border collie to do, a cat will not take to it very well. Therefore you may need to interrupt staring and prevent your border collie from attempting to her a/your cat.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.