German Shepherds and Cats – can they play together, get along and live together?
The answer is always ‘it depends’ – on the cat/s and dog/s themselves, the situation and the factors involved.
In some cases, they can co-exist in the same living space, whilst sometimes it does’t work.
In this guide we go through how to assess your cat/dog for suitability or living with another cat/dog, how to introduce them, aggression triggers, and how you might manage aggressive behavior.
NOTE: these are informational and educational ONLY tips. They should not be taken as professional advice. Please seek an animal behavioural expert if you need an expert opinion for safety or other reasons.
German Shepherds & Cats: Can They Get Along & Play Together?
Be Aware Of Who The German Shepherd or Cat Is, and Ask The Same Questions About The New Pet
So, either you have a cat already and you’re thinking of getting a German Shepherd, or its the other way around.
Regardless, you’ll want to sit down and figure out who your cat or dog is and analyse their behavior, and look to do the same with the pet you are bringing in.
Ask yourself questions like the following about your pet:
What is their demeanour like most of the time? – are they withdrawn and like their own space, friendly and playful etc.
How well socialised are they? Do they hang around other humans and animal regularly and know how to behave?
How do they behave around other animals – other dogs and cats? Do they get aggressive and rough, or are they non reactive?
What is their prey drive like? Do they chase humans and/or other animals?
Do they have any territorial issues around your house to other humans and animals?
Do they have any dominance issues over other dogs and cats, or humans?
Have you seen them behave aggressively before? What were the factors involved in that situation? Do they have any aggressions triggers, or have they shown any signs of aggression before? Is there any way they have been bred or something they’ve experienced that is likely to make them more aggressive in a certain situation?
How old are they and how old is the pet you’re wanting to bring into the home? Are they compatible in terms of energy and demeanor?
The two major things that make up temperament and behavior in a pet are their genetics (and individual personality), and their environment (i.e. how they have been raised and treated).
Consider these things for the dog and cat you are thinking of introducing to each other or having live together.
How To Introduce A German Shepherd To A Cat/Kitten – Meeting For The First Time
If you are going to look at new cats, or a new German Shepherd, take your existing pet to meet the new potential pet in a safe isolated place (away from other cats and dogs – as they may get stressed).
Definitely don’t take your German Shepherd to a cat shelter or cat breeders place without first notifying them and asking how you can best introduce the two.
When the dog meets the cat for the first time, look for these signs that might suggest either the dog or cat is anxious, feeling aggressive or scared –
Growling, snarling, lunging, baring teeth or other aggressive signs from the dog
A cat that snarls, hisses, bares its teeth, bares its claws or tries to swipe at the dog
Signs of herding – German Shepherds are herding dogs
Stalking – both dogs and cats can have high prey drives which might lead to stalking, chasing and hunting each other
General rough and uncontrolled body language
Once you and the existing owner have made the decision to introduce the animals, you can consider:
Keep the first meeting short and remove either animal immediately if they look overly stressed
Either take your cat to meet the dog, or take your dog to meet only a dog savvy cat in a safe place isolated from other cats – ask the cat owner which cat might be best location for the meeting
Ensure both animals are aware there is a door or open space to retreat if they feel frightened
Put both the cat and the dog on leashes
Muzzle the dog for extra protection if required
Put the dog in a crate and allow the cat to roam near the dog if required
Slowly take a step at a time towards each other and monitor the behavior of each until you trust them to get closer
Allow them to pick up each others scent
Observe how they react to each other, and supervise the interaction at all times
Make a decision together with the cat or dog owner (or with an animal expert professional if required) as to whether you can bring them into the same home
Allow a familiarisation and calm down period
If there is fear, anxiousness or unrest in either of the animals, and it persists especially beyond a few months – this can be a bad sign. Also, if one animal is constantly watching the other, this could be a prey drive which is also a cause for concern
If both animals are relaxed, acting natural and ignoring one another or showing affection to one another – this is a good sign that they are both comfortable
If the dog or the cat when living together aren’t eating, drinking or are having trouble peeing or pooping in the presence of the other, this could also be a bad sign
When they are living together, give your dog plenty of attention, show them that the cat is ok by petting them and being gentle with them. Show them the cat is part of the pack. Consider supervising every interaction and giving the cat it’s own room or isolating the dog until you’re sure they can play safely together
German Shepherd Puppy, and A Cat – What To Be Aware Of
A German Shepherd puppy of about 8 weeks MAY have a much easier time adjusting to a life with a cat.
They don’t have the strength and power of a bigger dog, and you have the chance to socialise and train them into good behaviors from a young age (it’s similar to brothers and sisters growing up together as opposed to two adult strangers meeting each other).
Having said this, if the dog or cat has a high prey drive for example, early socialisation may not matter – it depends on the dog.
An older dog or cat may have had more exposure to animals and may thrive more so than a younger and less experienced cat or dog around other animals – but it depends on the individual animals.
German Shepherd On Cat Aggression
Some dogs are great around other dogs and cats, whilst others may get aggressive immediately.
Check out these guides for potential reasons and signs of aggression in your GSD:
German Shepherd Aggression Triggers
Things like prey drive, territoriality, dominance, and a drive to herd and/or protect may be reasons a GSD may get aggressive towards a cat.
Possessiveness or fear might also be other reasons.
Can Cats Attack German Shepherds?
The reasons can vary – it always depends on the situation, factors involved and the cat or dog involved.
Prey drive and fear can play a big part. But, a cat may have many of the same aggression triggers a dog might have.
How To Manage and Minimise Cats And Dogs Attacking Each Other
Things to consider might include:
Speak to a professional animal trainer or behaviouralist for advice
Make sure the dog and cat are compatible on an individual level
Do a pre-visit before buying
Make sure the cat knows it has an escape route
Have a muzzle and crate or isolation room handy for the the first few weeks
Ensure each animal has their own private space to feel comfortable
Encourage sharing to minimise possessiveness
Allow them to get used to each other’s scent and behavior
Set an example by showing your GSD that the cat is to be treated gently and is a member of the pack – pat them gently in front of your dog and act in a calm manner
Supervise interactions until you’re comfortable they can be left alone
Ensure they always have things to do to keep them occupied and engaged without turning to each other to release their energy – toys for the cat and dog can be good
Socialise from a young age – early and often
Make sure your dogs know basic obedience, have basic training and socialization know basic commands like stop, down, drop etc. in case they start acting up
German Shepherd and Cat Videos
German Shepherd Meets Cat For The First Time
German Shepherd Carries Kitten Up The Stairs
German Shepherd and Cat Playing
German Shepherd Puppy Meets Cat
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