Jack Russells and Cats: Can You Make It Work & How


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If you are contemplating adopting a Jack Russell or a cat but only have 1 of the animals currently, you probably have a bit of anxiety if this is even possible and if it’s safe.

It’s an extremely common and good question to ask and you do have some risks to consider with this scenario.

I can tell you that from my own personal experience trying the exact same scenario.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain how you can make this work and what I recommend.

This discussion is going to be geared towards providing you the information to give you the best chances of making a relationship work between a Jack Russell and a cat in the same household.

We will discuss the risks, and what would be required to make it work and of course, I’ll give my personal advice on the situation.

By the end of this discussion, you either will know what’s expected of you as the owner or at least feel more at ease about which direction to go with your decision.

Let’s dive into the details and start with how important socialization between the two animals will be for success.

Socialization Is Imperative For This To Work

The first thing that you need to understand about Jack Russells is that they do great when they are socialized at a young age with other pets, people, or social situations.

If you want to adopt a cat, this is going to be very important to give you a chance at being successful.

If your Jack Russell is older and hasn’t been around cats in the past, the scenario is going to be much more difficult.

However, if you are thinking about adopting a Jack Russell soon, this may have a better chance of being possible assuming you already own a cat.

Jack Russell Terrier and kitten

Let’s assume you have a cat now and plan to adopt a Jack Russell.

This scenario is doable because Jack Russell still has a chance to be socialized beginning at infancy so to speak.

If I had the chance to repeat the scenario and be in this spot, I’m relatively confident a cat and my Jack Russell would have turned out great together.

Be sure to begin socializing your Jack Russell Terrier immediately after you arrive home after the adoption.

I would also take a special note that I don’t recommend this if you are rescuing an older Jack Russell.

At this age, it’s possible that a Jack Russell is already set in their ways and aggression could spark.

I only recommend giving this an opportunity if you are adopting a Jack Russell as a puppy and already have a cat.

Not the other way around.

You Have To Provide Supervision

Another super important part of having both a Jack Russell and a cat in the same household is going to come down to your bandwidth to supervise.

Do you have the time necessary to make sure that the interactions are going to go smoothly and that no injury results to either animal?

Even if you have begun the socialization process at the right time and done everything right for say 1 year, it is still possible that aggression could spark at any random moment.

Remember, Jack Russells have an insanely high prey drive so maybe 2-3 years down the road, the cat potentially does something that triggers your Jack Russell to enter that hunting mode and hunting mentality.

If you are going to do this, I wouldn’t personally recommend a Jack Russell ever being left alone with a cat unsupervised.

I wouldn’t personally recommend a Jack Russell ever being left alone with a cat unsupervised

It’s not worth the risk to either animal and can result in aggression or one of the animals potentially getting injured.

Be sure that if you want to do this, you will have time to provide supervision, or your house is structured in a manner that will allow the animals to have separate areas in the home they can retreat to.

This leads me to my next key point which is to make sure a safety outlet is provided.

For the cat at the very least.

Safety Outlets Are Key

Having a properly structured house can be another lifesaver when it comes to raising a Jack Russell Terrier and a cat in the same household.

This can allow the two animals to potentially interact with one another at certain times but allow the cat an easy access escape route if things go in a bad direction.

One of the best things you can do to make sure this is possible is to analyze the house and make sure the cat can easily reach the high ground quickly.

Cats are nimble and can move quickly and jump if needed.

If areas are available even if it’s a dresser or another piece of furniture that a Jack Russell can’t reach, this can ensure the cat has somewhere safe to go if the Jack Russell decides it’s going to get aggressive.

Cat on dresser

I would also recommend never locking the two animals together in a room behind something such as a pet gate.

If you do, the cat needs to be able to exit the room or get to a high spot if necessary.

This is key to ensuring the cat can always protect itself if the Jack Russell enters that prey-drive mode that we discussed earlier.

The Takeaway, It’s Likely Not The Best Idea

At the end of the day, it may not be the best idea to adopt a cat if you currently have a Jack Russell you have been raising that has not been socialized with a cat in the past.

It can be stressful and potentially dangerous for both animals without proper knowledge, supervision, and planning.

However, if you provide the socialization beginning at a young age and follow the safety recommendations we have laid out here today, you have a much better chance at making this scenario work out while keeping both of the animals safe.

Either way, we wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell Terriers and the journey you have ahead of you.

We also wish you the best of luck with adopting a cat if that’s the decision you ultimately end up making.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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