Dogs and cats have been at each other's throats for centuries. Or, more accurately, at each other's tails.
But what if we told you that not all hope is lost for these two furry foes? Yes, that's right – dogs and cats can actually coexist in the same household!
Don't believe us? Hold on to your leashes and sharpen your claws because we're about to unleash the secrets to peaceful dog and cat living.
In the doggy corner, we have the most notorious territorial dog breed of them all - the American Pitbull Terrier, and in the other, we have your standard family cat… Bossy, lazy, moody, independent, and loving all rolled into one.
Can they really co-exist?
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Yes, Pitbulls and cats can peacefully co-exist.
Under the right circumstances, Pitbulls will show love and endearment to any other family pet, including cats.
A lot depends on their living environment. Here are some things that you can do to help your Pit Bull be more tolerant of your family pets, including your cat:
Exercise your pitbull regularly
Pit Bulls need regular exercise. Without it, they are likely to show agitation with outbursts of aggression toward other animals or even people.
So taking your dog on regular walks helps them to get rid of pent-up tension and will probably keep your cat safe in the long run.
Just how much exercise your pit bull actually needs each day is highly dependent on its age and health condition, but going on a daily walk around the neighborhood is a good start.
If you have little spare time, get creative and set up a play area for your pit bull in the backyard. That way, he can entertain himself even when you aren’t around.
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Dogs pick up on their owner's disposition and this often mimics those personality traits. (2)
If you want your Pitbull to be compassionate, kind, and patient with your cat, you need to display those qualities first.
Don’t be quick to shout or get upset if your dog does something wrong. And never show aggression toward it.
This will likely bring out aggression in your dog. Pitbulls have a high prey drive, meaning that when they latch onto something, they'll pursue and hunt it down without giving up.
If you have other smaller animals at home, you’ll want to suppress that natural prey drive as much as possible.
You also need to choose when and how to display affection. If you have a cat or kittens at home, try not to show them too much affection in front of your Pitbull.
Dogs get jealous. Not only Pitbulls but all dogs. They could try to lessen their competition in the best way they know - by getting rid of it! Yikes!
This jealousy is often exacerbated when cats are afforded more privileges than dogs - like being allowed on furniture or countertops.
By showing your Pitbull the same amount of love as you do with your cat, you’re sending out a clear message that you love them all the same (even if you don’t really).
Pitbulls and cats need boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable within a family unit.
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By setting and enforcing these boundaries, you teach your pets that you are the leader of the pack and that there is a limit to what is acceptable behavior.
For instance, if you have a scratch pole or litter box for your cat, don’t allow your dog to chew on it and mark it in any way.
And if your Pitbull has a specific place in the house or garden where he feeds, make sure your cat knows it’s supposed to stay well clear of the area.
By setting and enforcing strict boundaries, you’ll contribute to a safe environment for all your pets.
Are Pitbulls more likely to attack cats than other dog breeds?
Keep in mind that most dogs have the ability to kill a cat or, at the very least, cause a lot of physical harm.
For the most part, dogs are bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than cats. Even a tiny lapdog like a Yorkshire terrier could inflict much damage.
It really comes down to the personality that each individual dog displays.
Unfortunately, humans like to label dogs within a certain breed. All Golden retrievers are friendly, all Jack Russels are energetic, and all Pitbulls are vicious, right?
A recent study found that dogs’ personalities aren’t determined by their breed. (1)
While it’s true that some dog breeds have been bred to fulfill more aggressive roles, not every dog within that breed will show the same personality traits.
A perfect example of this is the pitbull terrier.
Bred in the 1800s to have a muscular upper body with powerful jaw muscles, they were originally used to bite and hold on to bulls and other large animals like bears. This type of work requires a lot of courage and aggression.
So yes, pitbulls have the ability to use their natural drive to inflict a lot of damage on a small animal like a cat. But it’s not every dog that will do it.
Socializing your American Pitbull Terrier
Socializing a Pitbull means more than simply taking it for play dates in the park.
It includes all aspects of their behavior towards other animals and people. Here are a few top tips for socializing your Pitbull
1 Start them young
Start socializing your Pitbull puppy from a young age, preferably within the first few weeks.
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This will help them learn that other animals aren’t the enemy and that your children (and other pets) are an extension of your family.
During these early stages of life, dogs form a strong bond of trust with their owners. They learn to love them and learn to obey them in all things. So introduce your puppy to the world they’ll be exposed to every day from a young age.
2 Socialize with different age groups
The last thing you want is for your Pitbull to be aggressive or assertive towards children or other animals.
This could happen if they aren’t exposed to different age groups from a young age and view them as opposition. So get your Pitbull to interact with your children, under supervision, of course, from the beginning, and also with your cat.
You also want your visiting friends to feel safe when your dog is around, so make sure to introduce new people regularly.
This way, they’ll have the proper view of them and show less aggression when you’re not around.
3 Make it fun
Encourage your puppy to interact with your family pets in a playful environment. When they see other pets as a play friend rather than just the other animal in the house that steals dad’s attention, they’ll be less likely to show aggression.
With the right supervision and proper training, cats and dogs can learn to play fight in a safe setting.
Signs that your pitbull and cat shouldn’t be left alone
The fact of the matter is that some dogs just hate cats. Irrespective of their breed, your dog might not want to share its space with the family cat.
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Here are a few telltale signs that your cat might be in danger of being attacked by your Pit Bull:
Most dogs will become rigid still before attacking. You can just see the cogs turning inside their minds, formulating their plan of attack.
If your Pitbull becomes completely quiet and stands dead still, it means that it’s sizing up its target and getting ready to unleash a burst of energy.
Consider their dead stillness the calm before the storm.
2 A Raised Tail
A sure sign of aggression in most dogs is a still, raised tail. As much as a wagging tail shows that a dog is happy with their surroundings or excited by whatever it’s doing, a raised tail signals that it’s ready for war.
So play barking coupled with a wagging tail shows excitement, but barking and a raised tail should be seen as a warning sign.
3 Low Growling
A low growl is often how a dog communicates displeasure to other animals or humans. You’ll notice this when you go near a dog that’s feeding.
While some growls will signal discomfort or perhaps even pain, you should be alarmed when your dog growls at your other pets.
Be cautious with adopted dogs
There are almost 4 million dogs given up for adoption or abandoned in the US each year. (3)
That is a heartbreaking statistic that should motivate animal lovers to adopt a dog rather than buy a newborn puppy.
Unfortunately, most rescued dogs that are up for adoption have not been socialized from a young age.
This means that there’s simply no telling how they’ll react to your cat. So if you’re thinking of adopting a pitbull, you might want to keep it completely separate from your cat, even with supervision.
You might want to introduce them to one another in totally separate spaces, making sure that the dog cannot get to your cat, no matter how hard it tries.
By leaving a window open or holding your cat out of harm's way, you’ll be able to see how your new dog reacts to the idea of sharing your affection - and it's new home.
You can then gradually allow them to be in the same room. As long as your pitbull is wearing a sturdy harness that’s made of durable material and discourages pulling, you should be able to keep control of the situation.
Many animal lovers really want to own a pitbull but also want a feline friend to cuddle with on a rainy day.
The reality is that it is possible to have both in this case. As long as you train your pitbull from a very early age, the two animals should be able to live under the same roof.
They might not be best friends, but you probably won’t need to take a trip to the vet every second day either.
Also, remember that introducing a puppy to an adult cat is probably a safer idea than introducing an adult pitbull to small kittens.
2 - earth.com
3 - TheZebra.com