Scottish Terriers, with their tenacious personalities and hunting instincts, have a reputation for not getting along well with other pets, including cats. However, with proper training and socialization from an early age, Scottish Terriers and cats can learn to coexist peacefully.
This article will explore the Scottish Terrier breed’s typical temperament, provide tips for successfully introducing them to feline companions, and offer advice for managing interactions between Scotties and cats.
While their breeding history predisposes them to chase small, quick animals, Scottish Terriers can overcome their instincts and learn to live harmoniously with cats given the right environment and training.
With patience and persistence, Scotties and cats can become friends. Keep reading to learn more about how to achieve a multi-species household with a Scottish Terrier and cats.
Scottish Terrier Personality
To understand why Scottish Terriers may not get along well with cats at first, it’s important to consider their typical breed traits and personality.
Scottish Terriers were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin and other small prey. As a result, they tend to have a strong prey drive when they see a small, fast moving animal like a cat.
In addition to their hunting instincts, Scottish Terriers are known for being feisty, energetic, loyal, and occasionally aggressive.
They have an independent streak and can be assertive when defending their territory. Scottish Terriers are alert watchdogs that don’t take kindly to intruders.
While their prey drive and tendency towards dominance and territorial behavior can create issues with cats (and other dogs), Scottish Terriers also exhibit positive traits. When properly socialized and trained, they can learn restraint and obedience. Scottish Terriers bond very closely with their families.
With time and effort, their loyalty and desire to please owners can override their natural instincts to give chase.
So while aspects of the Scottish Terrier’s ancestry and personality make coexisting with cats a challenge, their trainability means they can successfully learn to live alongside feline housemates. It requires dedication from owners to bring out their Scottie’s best behaviors.
Can Scottish Terriers Live with Cats?
Given their reputation for aggression and prey drive, some people assume Scottish Terriers and cats are a combination doomed to fail. However, with proper precautions and training, Scottish Terriers can successfully live with cats.
Early Socialization is Key
Early socialization and controlled exposure to cats from a young age is pivotal for Scottish Terriers. Puppies have a critical window between 3-16 weeks old for positive experiences that shape their behaviors as adults.
Scottish Terrier puppies introduced to cats or kittens during this period in a gentle, reward-based manner can learn cats are friends, not prey. This early training helps override their natural instincts.
Individual Personalities Matter
While breed tendencies exist, individual personalities between both the dog and cat also impact how well they coexist.
Some Scottish Terriers have calmer dispositions with less intense prey drives. Laidback cats may tolerate dogs better than skittish cats prone to bolting and triggering chase instincts.
Training Makes a Difference
Obedience training is key for teaching Scottish Terriers restraint and good manners around cats. Well-trained Scotties are more likely to abide by commands in tempting cat chase scenarios. Proper training can help minimize problematic chasing and aggression issues.
With early and ongoing training, even dogs with high prey drives can learn limits. So individual personality coupled with socialization and training are key determining factors for successfully housing Scottish Terriers and cats under one roof.
Tips for Scottish Terriers Living with Cats
If you’re committed to helping your Scottish Terrier accept feline housemates, here are some tips:
- Keep feeding areas separate to avoid resource guarding conflicts. Scottish Terriers may snap at cats approaching their food.
- Make sure cats have escape routes. Give cats access to high perches and cat trees too high for the dog to reach. Never trap cats in a room with the Scottie.
- Use baby gates to separate the dog and cat when unsupervised. This prevents chasing incidents.
- Walk the Scottie daily to prevent energy buildup that may get directed at cats. A tired dog is less likely to harass cats.
- Use a leash to control the Scottish Terrier around cats until trust is built. Verbally praise and treat calm leashed interactions.
- Consider an anti-pull harness to prevent the Scottie from breaking loose and chasing cats during leashed introductions.
- Provide interactive dog toys to satisfy the Scottie’s prey drive in appropriate ways. Food puzzle toys can mentally stimulate them.
With training, patience and proper management, Scottish Terriers and cats can coexist together. But owners should never leave them unsupervised until they’ve built an established peace.
How to Introduce Scottish Terriers to Cats
When bringing a Scottish Terrier into a home with cats, take introductions slowly. Rushing the process can backfire and intensify the Scottie’s prey drive. Here are some tips for safe introductions:
- Keep the dog leashed, crated or behind a baby gate for initial interactions so they can see but not access the cat.
- Allow the pets to become accustomed to each other’s scents before face-to-face meetings. Swap blankets between their spaces.
- Make sure the cat has escape routes and high perches to retreat to if needed.
- Verbally praise and give treats to the Scottish Terrier for calm behavior around the cat. Use treats to redirect their focus if needed.
- Watch closely for play bows, snarling, stiff body language or intense staring—these are warning signs to interrupt an interaction.
- Keep early sessions very brief, even just minutes long. End on a positive note.
- Gradually increase supervised interaction time as the pets become more comfortable together.
- Reinforce obedience cues like “leave it” during interactions so the Scottie learns to control its instincts around the cat.
With time, patience and positive associations, the Scottish Terrier and cat will ideally develop a friendly rapport. But never leave them unsupervised until a track record of safe coexistence has been firmly established.
Scottish Terriers with Stray Cats
Scottish Terriers may react differently to outdoor or stray cats than their indoor feline housemates. Here are some tips for handling stray cat encounters:
- Keep your Scottish Terrier leashed outside, especially in areas where strays are common. This allows you to control their behavior.
- Work on solid obedience cues like “leave it” in case you spot a stray cat and need to quickly redirect your Scottie’s focus.
- Carry high-value treats when walking your Scottish Terrier to further distract them from interacting with strays.
- Avoid off-leash parks or trails where stray cats are regularly sighted. This prevents any chasing incidents.
- If your yard is not securely fenced, supervise your Scottie when letting them outside to prevent stray cat interactions.
- While difficult, try to remain calm in the presence of a stray since dogs pick up on owners’ tense energy.
- If your Scottish Terrier has slipped their leash and is chasing a stray cat, do not chase or yell after them as this can intensify the pursuit. Instead, use their recall cue in an upbeat tone.
With proper precautions, owners can manage their Scottish Terrier’s interactions with outdoor stray cats to ensure both pets’ safety. But supervision and training are key.
In conclusion, Scottish Terriers and cats can form amicable relationships despite the breed’s reputation for aggression and high prey drive.
With early and ongoing socialization, training, supervision, and environmental management, Scottish Terriers can learn to live peacefully with cats.
While their instincts initially make them prone to chasing and even harming cats, Scottish Terriers are trainable dogs.
Their ability to form close bonds with their families means they can overcome undesirable behaviors with time, consistency and effort. However, their interactions require responsible supervision.
By starting socialization early, reinforcing wanted behaviors, providing secure cat escapes, and maintaining vigilance, owners can help a Scottie and a cat become companions.
While challenging, the rewarding outcome of a harmonious multi-species home is achievable with dedication. With species-specific needs met, terriers and tabbies can thrive under one roof.