Some people are cat people while others are dog people, and still others are just pet people. Dogs and cats are portrayed as enemies in cartoons, with the cat being aloof and nonchalant while the dog is happy-go-lucky, of low intelligence, and prone to chase any cat in its sight.
However, many dogs and cats can co-exist peacefully. Whether they become real friends or just quietly tolerate each other, it is possible to cohabitate with both.
Some breeds are better at relationships with cats and, if you have a Boston Terrier, you may wonder if they are one of those breeds.
Boston Terriers typically coexist well with cats due to their familial instincts and people-pleasing nature, often regarding a cat as another member of their pack. Successful integration between these pets usually requires proper socialization, careful introductions, and temperamental compatibility, potentially leading to the formation of close bonds.
Let’s take a closer look.
- Boston Terrier Temperament
- Tips for Boston Terriers Living with Cats
- How to Introduce Boston Terriers to Cats
- Boston Terriers with Stray Cats
Boston Terrier Temperament
Bostons love being part of a family. They look up to their people and enjoy being part of a larger group.
When socialized properly, they readily adopt almost anyone into their “pack,” including a new baby, another dog, or even a cat.
This eagerness is especially helpful with training new behaviors and introducing new ideas and new family members.
Tips for Boston Terriers Living with Cats
The Importance of Socialization
Early socialization is a must with any breed, but I think it’s also very specific to Boston Terriers. Because they value their people so much, they can become protective.
Introducing a kitten and a puppy is much easier than introducing two older animals that have no experience with the other species.
I got Oona Clare just before the Covid pandemic started. She was very accepting of early visitors to our home – my book club, some of the friends who came specifically to meet her, and the plumber who replaced my garbage disposal.
She naturally assumed that everyone was a new friend. However, once we were social distancing and staying home by ourselves, she seemed to forget those early interactions and became fearful of people she didn’t know. She really doesn’t like it when someone approaches me.
Over the last few months, I have been taking her out more and attempting to get her used to other people. She no longer barks at the people in the drive-thru windows (especially if there is a chance she’ll get a pup cup) and her new best friend is our next-door neighbor.
I just know she would have been a much friendlier and accepting dog if we could have continued her early socialization, but we’re not giving up.
Dogs and cats both have individual personalities. Some cats keep to themselves more, while others are friendly and enjoy people as much as Bostons do.
This is something to take into consideration when choosing to bring home a cat. It’s usually best if they have similar temperaments.
The Difference Between Play-chasing and Prey Drive
Boston Terriers love to run and really enjoy time for “zoomies” where they run as fast as they can across the yard, up the stairs, or in circles wherever they have room.
Some of them, including Oona Clare, love to chase and be chased. I think Oona just likes to show how fast she is; it’s a game for her to see if anyone can keep up with her.
However, Bostons tend to have a high prey drive, which is left over from the habits of some of their ancestors. As you get to know your Boston, you will easily be able to tell the difference between playing and chasing prey.
Play looks like an interaction, a give-and-take between the animals. A Boston will look behind her to see if she’s being chased or will pass up what she is following to show that she has “won.”
Prey chase looks very intense and there isn’t anything about it that looks like fun. It’s a very driven and focused kind of chase and should be ended the moment you recognize it.
Your Boston should never be allowed to view another family pet as its prey.
Keep Feeding Areas Separate
Not all dogs are food-aggressive, but it’s still a good idea to keep their feeding areas separate. This allows both animals peace while eating and removes any reason to fight.
Make Sure the Cat Always Has an Escape Route
If your new cat isn’t used to a dog, it is important that they have a way to get away from the dog when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Until your cat recognizes that your Boston is just being goofy, and their barking isn’t aggressive, you want to reduce the chances of those kitty claws coming out to scratch that smooshy little face.
When you’re away from home or just need some time to focus on a project, keep your Boston and your cat in separate rooms. Keeping them together prevents them from having downtime and increases the risk of a skirmish.
Cat trees are excellent furnishings because they allow cats to jump to places that a Boston can’t. Even the bounciest Boston has trouble accessing a five-foot perch that a cat can easily climb, thus giving them the personal space they need.
If you’ve spent any time around them, you know that Bostons aren’t typically known for their respect of personal space.
How to Introduce Boston Terriers to Cats
Introductions between Bostons and cats should happen slowly and gradually. Small steps that don’t rush either animal will be more successful in the long run.
You want to build the confidence both pets feel in short amounts of time so that they each feel encouraged to keep going.One negative experience could set you back after months of progress.
Introduce your Boston and your new feline separated by a gate. This way they both get to see and smell to their hearts’ content with a safe barrier.
This will also tell you right away if either pet acts with aggression. If this does happen, try two gates with further separation until they become accustomed to the other’s presence.
Once your pets are calm behind a gate, leash your Boston and remove the barrier. You are giving the cat freedom to explore while preventing any prey drive from kicking in on the part of your Boston.
If he does want to chase, it’s much easier to correct the behavior on a leash and allows the cat to get to a safe area.
If all is going well up to this point, you can allow supervised visits. Watch for behaviors that seem aggressive and stop them before they really get started.
Reward your Boston when they are calm or gentle with the cat. Treats encourage the positive behavior that you want your Boston to exhibit.
On the other hand, punishment will lead to your Boston associating the cat with a negative interaction with you, so you want to avoid that at all costs.
If you seem to be going backwards in your progress, go back to the steps above.
Boston Terriers with Stray Cats
Your Boston is likely to interact much differently with a stray or feral cat. A stray is an outsider, someone entering the property without your Bostie’s permission, and he will want to protect you and his property.
You can train your Boston to accept a stray cat with much of the methods listed above.
Never allow your Boston to bark at a stray through a window. Stop that behavior and reward her when she is just quietly observing the cat.
Take your Boston outside on a leash and, again, reward her for just quietly watching the cat in her yard.
They may never be actual friends, but your Bostie can learn to coexist peacefully with the stranger in the yard.
Boston Terriers get along with cats much better than many other breeds, in part because of their desire to be an integral part of the family and to please their people. Their affectionate nature can lead them to accepting a cat as just another member of their “pack.”
The best way to ensure that your pets interact peacefully with each other is through proper socialization and a slow, methodical approach to introducing the two.
With the right training and matching the temperaments of the two as closely as possible, you just might end up with a pair of new best friends in your household.