The beagle is currently the sixth most popular canine breed in America according to the AKC. The breed’s popularity is an indication of its exemplary behavior and demeanor as a canine companion. Beagles crave for their owners’ company and they are tolerant of children. Likewise, these little hounds do not snap at other dogs because of competitive eating or unwillingness to share toys. The question is, are beagles good with cats, too?
The Beagle’s hunting roots makes people hesitant of bringing smaller pets to their home, particularly cats. Understand that a Beagle, like any other pet, has an individual personality. Hence, your dog’s ability to live peacefully with cats and other household pets will differ from one Beagle to another.
Points to Consider
We understand that you want to exercise your good intentions by taking in a cat that needs a new home. Before you make a commitment, make sure to think of the following.
Your Beagle’s Background
Is your Beagle recently in charge of rodent control? Does he enjoy battling against garden-variety thieves, such as bunnies and groundhogs? If yes, then your pooch is not too keen on sharing a home with a cat.
Beagles are friendly but they are innately predatory. Without early intervention, you have encouraged your dog’s instincts to kick in and unknowingly fine-tuned his talent. If this is the case, forcing a cat into your home is an accident waiting to happen.
The Cat’s History
If possible, ask the shelter about the cat’s previous living conditions and socialization to other pets, particularly dogs. The cat may show aggression towards your dog even if he is the friendliest Beagle in town. Take note that feral cats are often mistaken as strays and stray cats can adopt feral behaviors over time.
The Number of Beagles You Have
Bringing a cat may not be a good idea if you have a pack of Beagles waiting on your doorstep. Beagles, just like any other breed, band together to form a pack. When they do, they become territorial and chase away any potential threat.
Your Beagle’s Age
In many cases, adopting a full-grown cat would be best if you have an adult Beagle. The better if it is a large cat breed. It would be risky to have a fragile kitten inside the house.
If you have a Beagle puppy, we suggest you take in a kitten. Although a puppy is less threatening to an adult cat, it is best to see your pup and kitten grow together and become playmates.
Your Beagle’s Ability to Follow Commands
Your resident pet should be able to perform basic commands, such as “Come,” “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Leave It.” Basic commands are crucial should there be any instances that your dog harms the cat. Otherwise, you need to resolve this problem first before you proceed on bringing a cat home.
How Do Beagles React to Cats?
There are two possibilities when introducing your Beagle to a cat for the first time.
Your Beagle May Get Overly Excited
Your Beagle may treat the cat just as he would treat other dogs. You can expect your dog to lunge at the cat or sniff at her like there is no tomorrow. This is simply because of curiosity. He may also chase the cat or play rough without the intention to harm.
If your Beagle wags his tail and looks relaxed while doing these, then he simply wants to bond with his new whiskered friend. However, cats are apprehensive of dogs and become defensive.
Your Beagle May Prey on the Cat
Beagles love to pursue virtually anything that moves – a behavior that stems back to their ancestry as hunting dogs. For this reason, many dog owners presume that Beagles will make life hard for a pet cat. There is indeed a chance that your Beagle will associate the cat as prey, especially when it is still a tiny kitten.
A prey-driven Beagle is difficult to distract, as he will stare intensely on the aim of his attack. You can also see great tension on his leg muscles and tail. If this is the case, separate your pets immediately.
If you are convinced that your Beagle’s predatory instincts are dormant, then perhaps, it is high time that you add a cat to your family. Use the following techniques so you can introduce your whiskered friend to your Beagle.
How to Introduce a Beagle to a Cat
For more tips on introducing a dog and cat see here.
Make your pets familiarize with each other’s scent
Did you know that Beagles have 220 million olfactory receptors? Beagles can remember more than 50 distinct smells. So, why shouldn’t you make use of this impressive ability?
Grab a cloth or a towel and wipe it down your cat. Let your pooch sniff it. Better yet, tuck the cloth underneath your dog’s bed so he can get accustomed to your cat’s scent. Do the same for your cat.
Separate your cat at first
Avoid face-to-face confrontations for the first few days. Confine your cat in a room with her bed, food, water, and toys. Ideally, install a cat tree scratcher or a multi-level cat condominium. Having multiple high areas to hide can help your cat feel more secure. Cats are just as territorial as dogs. Hence, you need to give her enough time to adjust to her new environment.
Feed your pets on opposite sides of a closed-door
Feed your pets on either side of the door. Continue this process until your whiskered newcomer and the resident pet can eat calmly directly on each opposite side of the door. This will help prevent fear and aggression from developing.
Conduct short face-to-face meetings
Do this in a common area of your house, not your cat’s little retreat or your dog’s domain. Be sure that you have already set an escape route for your cat just in case things could go haywire.
Keep your little hound on a leash and ask him to sit down.
Next, allow your whiskered newcomer to come and go as she wishes. Let her explore the room at her own pace. Just keep rewarding your pooch for good behavior. It would be better if your dog acts as though the cat does not exist and is more interested in the treats.
Repeat this process several times daily, but keep it short. Having frequent short visits are better than dragging it out so long that either pet becomes stressed or agitated.
If your cat leaves the room, let her do so. There may be times when your Beagle tries to see how you would react if he gets too close with the cat in an aggressive way. If this happens, give the “Stay” command and immediately reward your dog if he obeys.
See to it that your pets eat simultaneously
Let your pets eat together, so they can create a close bond. At first, you need to supervise all interactions between the two. To stay on the safe side, place your cat’s food on the counter. Over time, this will establish the idea that they belong in the same pack.
Proceed with caution
After multiple introductions and simultaneous feedings, set your pets loose inside a room and observe how they would react towards each other. If your Beagle shows tolerance with your cat’s presence even without your intervention, then you can finally have the peace of mind knowing that your pets can hang out together and eventually, become snuggle buddies.
For more tips on getting a dog to get along with a cat see here.
Dogs and cats have always been thought of as mortal enemies, but this does not always have to be the case. Many Beagles fare well in multi-pet households. Most dogs will outgrow their prey drive once the cat becomes an adult or when they have finally grown familiar with each other.
However, a face-to-face confrontation is not always feasible. Even if your pooch is friendly, your cat may misinterpret “play” as a signal to attack and will display aggression. Rushed or forced interaction will only result in fearful or aggressive behavior, which can be difficult to change once it becomes a habit.
Careful management is the key to ensure your Beagle and cat live harmoniously. If tension erupts, you may need to repeat the entire process. Better yet, you can ask a dog trainer to help you save your cat from a cycle of harassment.
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