Are Poodles Good With Cats?

Poodles are good-natured, friendly dogs, but if you’re thinking of getting one, you may be wondering – are they good with cats? 

The trope of cats and dogs being arch enemies is as old as time, but not all of us like to choose between them. Some of us want the best of both worlds, and that is possible with the right dog and the right training. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

brown poodle with a brown cat

Can dogs and cats get along?

Cats and dogs can live together in peace and harmony under the right circumstances, but they are not born loving one another. It takes a bit of work, and there are a number of reasons for their age-old disliking of one another that it can take time to undo. 

Firstly, dogs have a natural prey instinct to chase anything smaller than them. Therefore, they have an instinctive attraction to cats, and in turn, cats have an instinctive wariness of dogs.  

Secondly, miscommunication. Whilst dogs are masters of reading body language when it comes to humans and other dogs, they can get confused by the body language of cats. The behavior of cats is completely different from dogs and can appear suspicious to them. Likewise, friendly doggie behaviors such as play-bowing and barking can appear frightening and aggressive to cats. 

Lastly, many dogs that live in built-up areas don’t like cats because they enter their yards on a regular basis, which triggers their territorial instincts. So, for a dog and a cat to live together, some trust needs to be built!

puppy with a kitten

Are Poodles good with cats?

Whether you’re looking for a dog to add to your cat-friendly household, or you’re a proud Poodle owner looking to get a cat, there are some things you should consider before mixing the two. 

Background

First of all, consider your Poodle’s history. If they are well-trained, well-socialized, and have a history of good behavior towards other animals, then they may well be suited to life with a cat.

If you adopt a rescue Poodle that comes from a background of abuse or neglect, you may find that they need to be the sole pet in the household. This is because dogs that haven’t been socialized very well can have trouble adjusting to life with other pets and reading the behavior of others. They could also have triggers that cause defensive behavior, which may put other pets in danger.

Personality

Your Poodle’s personality is just as important as their background. In order to introduce your dog to a cat, you need to be sure of their ability to keep calm and be friendly, and not aggressive or boisterous. Poodles with high prey drives and boisterous personalities are not well suited to life with a cat. 

That said, certain breeds are known to be more tolerable than others, and Poodles are very tolerable and highly trainable. However, they are high-energy dogs, so care must be taken to expend their energy in the right ways to stop boisterous behavior with cats. Toy Poodles tend to get on with cats especially well, but every dog is different, and their temperaments can vary.

Age

The age of your Poodle may also be an important factor.
Puppies are much more adaptable than senior dogs as they are still learning, but they’re also clumsy and require more training and supervision than older dogs. If a Poodle puppy is growing up with a cat, you have plenty of time to shape their relationship.

Seniors, however, tend to be set in their ways and a little easier to annoy, but an old dog with a good temperament is a lot more reliable than a puppy – so don’t count them out! 

Experience

You should also consider your Poodle’s previous experience with cats. If you’re rescuing a fully grown Poodle, one that has lived with cats or smaller pets before is preferable to one with little to no experience with other animals.

The cat 

Finally, consider the cat. The background, age, and temperament of the cat, as well as their previous experience with dogs, should be just as important when deciding whether or not they’re an appropriate addition to your household.

brown poodle

Color

There is an incorrect perception that a dog’s color impacts his behavior.
Classically, red dogs (such as the Apricot Poodle) are said to be more spirited, and other colors more laid-back. That is not true – do not count on the fact that simply because you have e.g. a Parti Poodle, your dog will get along great with a cat.
All colors of Poodles will require the same amount of training.

Introducing your Poodle to a cat

Socialization is a key part of any dog’s training. It allows them to observe the behavior of others, learn social cues, and understand how to interact with others appropriately, but it is even more important when it comes to introducing them to a cat. 

Before introducing them, you should first introduce them to each other’s smells. You can do this by putting your Poodle’s favorite toy next to your cat’s bed, and your cat’s favorite toy next to your Poodle’s bed. Then, allow them to be in different parts of the home at the same time to introduce the scent into their territory. Be sure to reward your dog just for being around the cat’s scent to make it a positive experience.

Next, while keeping your Poodle on a leash, let them be in the same room together. Ask your dog to sit down and let your cat introduce themselves in their own time. Don’t forget to reward them for being so close to one another, and if your dog growls or lunges towards the cat at any point, separate them and start again. 

If your Poodle behaves well and displays signs of friendly curiosity, such as wagging their tail or sniffing the cat calmly, ask somebody else to hold your dog’s leash, and pet the cat in front of your dog. This will show them that the cat is not a threat and get them used to the fact that you are going to have another pet to curb any jealousy. 

Keep a close eye on them and keep doing small sessions like this every day for a week or so. Let your dog off the leash when you think they’re ready, and keep them apart when you’re not at home. Supervise them closely in their initial weeks together until you feel confident that you can leave them alone together. 

A good exercise to do in their initial weeks together is to play your dog’s favorite game with them while your cat is in the room to show them that the cat is no threat to their fun, and also play with your cat in front of your dog. Dogs are naturally more curious than cats, so to stop them from trying to join in, ask someone else to sit with your dog and hold them back. This will also allow your pets to observe eachother’s behaviors and be more at ease with one another.

poodle with kittens

Training your Poodle to live with
a cat

Once the initial introductions are out of the way, training your Poodle to live with a cat mostly consists of affirming good interactions and stopping bad ones. Thankfully, Poodles are extremely smart dogs and will pick up on what is and isn’t acceptable very quickly. 

Be sure to spend lots of one-on-one time with your dog so that they don’t think you love them any less, and practice recall & “stop” commands with them to call them away if they start annoying your cat. If they do anything particularly naughty, show them that it is unacceptable by ending their interaction immediately and separating them. This shows your dog that bad behavior towards the cat is not acceptable and family time will stop when bad behaviors start.

Personal Space

Another really important thing that you need to do as an owner is to make sure that your pets have their own designated spaces. At least while they get to know each other, your dog should not be eating or sleeping in the same in the same area of the home as your cat. They should also have separate toy boxes. This will help your dog to feel that their life is not being invaded by the cat and vice versa.

Eventually, you might find that your dog and cat get along so well that they like sleeping near each other, and it won’t be so important to keep their stuff separate, but if not, that’s okay too!

Stopping boisterous behaviors

As mentioned above, Poodles are high-energy dogs. They tend to get overexcited and can experience hyperactivity if they are underworked, and this is not great for life with cats. So, if you want to have a Poodle and a cat living under the same roof, you need to make sure that your Poodle is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation so that they won’t feel the need to act crazy around your cat.

Standard Poodles need around 60-90 minutes of exercise a day, while Miniature Poodles need about 30-45 minutes, and Toy Poodles need around 20-30 minutes. All of them need a few good play sessions a day.
Fun games like hide and seek and treasure hunt and challenging toys like puzzles and treat dispensers are great energy burners for Poodles and will put an end to hyperactive, boisterous behaviors around the home.

What happens if they don’t
get along?

If you have tried everything and your Poodle is not getting along with your cat, you should consult a professional trainer for more advice. Taking your new pet to the shelter should always be a last resort, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, and it’s not worth putting your cat at risk. (Or your dog – cats can scratch!)

The bottom line

Are Poodles good with cats? The truth is, it all depends on the dog, the cat, and the way that they are both raised. Thankfully, the majority of Poodles are good-natured, tolerant dogs and they can get along well with cats with a little bit of training.

brown poodle with grey cat

Laura

Writer and Border Collie Mom​

Laura is a dog-lover with an animal-related degree and plenty of hands on experience. She is passionate about dog health & welfare and wants to arm owners with all of the essential info they need!

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