Are Jack Russell Terriers good with cats

Are Jack Russells good with cats

The Jack Russell Terrier was bred to hunt and chase small prey. As a result, they have a very high instinctive prey drive. In general, Jack Russells are not good with cats and may even seriously harm or kill them. Cats themselves can be quite vicious and could injure a dog. There are many examples of dogs that have lost an eye as the result of a cat’s claws.

The Jack Russells hunting roots makes people hesitant of bringing smaller pets to their home, particularly cats. Understand that a Jack Russell, 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 Jack Russell to another.

Although the instinctive drive a Jack Russell may not make them suitable to be around a cat, with the right training and socialization towards cats this is possible. There are many households where a Jack Russell and a cat live in harmony and have become best friends.

The chances of a Jack Russell and a cat living in harmony are greatly improved if they are brought up together from a young age. Alternatively, a Jack Russell puppy coming into a home with an existing calm adult cat is usually successful also.

This article looks mainly at having a Jack Russell and a cat in the same household. If the problem you have is your Jack Russell chasing other people’s cats see here.

Things to consider Jack Russell and cats

There are many considerations to take into account before committing to introducing a Jack Russell and a cat.

The situation

The first thing to take into account is the situation and why you are wanting to have a Jack Russell and a cat in the same household. Variations may include;

  • Jack Russell puppy and kitten entering the home at the same time.
  • Jack Russell puppy entering the home of an existing cat.
  • Kitten or adult cat entering the home of an existing Jack Russell
  • Another scenario.

Each of these scenarios will need to be considered to determine how successful the situation will be.

The Jack Russells history and nature

Does your Jack Russell display chasing and prey drive behavior? Jack Russells are friendly but they are innately predatory. Without early intervention, your dog’s instincts will kick in. If this is the case, forcing a cat into your home is an accident waiting to happen.

The cat’s history and nature

If you have an existing cat and are considering getting a Jack Russell you will know the personality and nature of your cat. If you are considering a rescue cat try to get some background about the cat.

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 Jack Russell in town. Take note that feral cats are often mistaken as strays and stray cats can adopt feral behaviors over time.

How many Jack Russells you have

If you have more than one Jack Russell it is probably not a good idea to get a cat. Jack Russells, like most dog breeds, will form a pack. When they do, they become territorial and chase away any potential threat.

The age of the Jack Russell or cat

In many cases, adopting a full-grown cat would be best if you have an adult Jack Russel. The better if it is a large cat breed. It would be risky to have a fragile kitten inside the house.

If you have or are getting a Jack Russell 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 Jack Russells obedience

It is important that your Jack Russell be reasonably obedient. This way you can tell them to leave the cat alone or come when you call. A Jack Russell that does whatever it wants will be difficult to control around a cat. For more on Jack Russell training see here.

How do Jack Russells react to cats

There are two possibilities when introducing your Jack Russell to a cat for the first time.

The Jack Russell becomes excited

Your Jack Russell may treat the cat just as he would treat other dogs. You can expect your dog to lunge at the cat or sniff at them like there is no tomorrow. This is simply because of curiosity. They may also chase the cat or play rough without the intention to harm.

If your Jack Russell wags their tail and looks relaxed while then they simply want to bond with his new whiskered friend. However, cats can be apprehensive of dogs and become defensive.

The Jack Russell preys on the cat

Jack Russells 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 a Jack Russell will make life hard for a pet cat. There is indeed a chance that your Jack Russell will associate the cat as prey, especially when it is still a tiny kitten.

A prey-driven Jack Russell is difficult to distract, as they will stare intensely on the target of their attack. You can also see great tension on their leg muscles and tail. If this is the case, separate your pets immediately.

If you are convinced that your Jack Russell’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 Jack Russell.

How to introduce a Jack Russell to a cat

For more tips on introducing a dog and cat see here.

Make your pets familiarize with each other’s scent

Dogs have an impressive sense of smell. 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 situation.

Feed your pets on opposite sides of a closed-door

Feed your pets on either side of the door. Continue this process until the 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 Jack Russell on a leash and ask them to sit down.

Next, allow your newcomer to come and go as they wish. Let them explore the room at her own pace. Just keep rewarding your dog 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 them do so. There may be times when your Jack Russell 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 they obey.

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 Jack Russell shows tolerance with your cat’s presence even without your intervention, then you can finally have peace of mind knowing that your pets can hang out together and eventually, become close buddies.

Summary – Are Jack Russells good with cats

The Jack Russell Terrier was bred to hunt and chase small prey. As a result, they have a very high instinctive prey drive. In general, Jack Russells are not good with cats and may even seriously harm or kill them. Cats themselves can be quite vicious and could injure a dog. There are many examples of dogs that have lost an eye as the result of a cat’s claws.

Although the instinctive drive a Jack Russell may not make them suitable to be around a cat, with the right training and socialization towards cats this is possible. There are many households where a Jack Russell and a cat live in harmony and have become best friends.

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