So you have been wanting to adopt a puppy for a while now and decided to pick a chihuahua. But now you are scared that he won’t get along with your older cat. Well, having this fear is reasonable but don’t give up just yet!
If you are aware of what to expect from your puppy and how your cat will react to it, you will be able to build a harmonious household where everybody lives and plays together. Yes, there are some precautions and tips that you should know before deciding to introduce your pets to each other, but ultimately, yes, they can get along!
Let’s have a look at the personality of chihuahuas and how to effectively introduce them into your household!
Do Chihuahuas Get Along with Cats?
Yes, they can! They are both of similar size, playfulness, and intelligence. However, no owner should assume that any chihuahua will get along with any cat. Similar to human relationships, it often comes down to the personality of each pet.
If your cat is already used to roaming around a multi-pet house, you should mainly focus on the reaction of your new puppy. In fact, in this case, you should not be worried about hurting the feelings of your cat. He is probably used to having his reduced share of attention, and he is fine with it.
Oppositely, if your cat has been the only pet around for a long period of time, you should mainly focus on the moment when you are introducing the two, as this can be essential for a harmonious household in the future.
However, there are ways to prepare both your cat and your puppy to the meeting. This can help them understand that they will be loved just as much, even if another pet is in the house. Preparing for cohabitation is one of the most important processes you should focus on after you have decided to adopt a puppy.
Characteristics of a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are some of the best breeds of dogs for family and kids, and you are guaranteed to enjoy his company from the moment he steps into your house. They are playful and loyal to their owners, and they have become one of the most popular breeds of dogs globally. Chis are incredibly smart and intelligent creatures that will give you endless satisfaction during training.
However, don’t be fooled by the small size! They act and guard as if they were bigger dogs. They take their guarding and protection tasks extremely seriously, and they will face other dogs, animals, and people. You can see them barking from their tiny den (backpacks or purses) at everybody that gets to close to their owners. No matter the adversary’s size!
While Chihuahuas can be very social, they like to be at the center of their owner’s attention, and they prefer the company of other Chihuahuas to other pets or dog breeds.
Sometimes it is possible that they get attached to a specific member of the family and will exclude others, becoming protective of the owner. Due to their protective attitude, there are a few things you should consider when introducing your chihuahua to your cat.
Why does your Chihuahua feel threatened?
Due to the similar size between your chihuahua and your cat, they are bound to get along. Once they are comfortable with each other, you should not experience any issue between the two for the years to come. However, the introduction moment is what really will make a difference in the future.
In order to get this right, you need to be aware of the personality of your chihuahua and why he might feel threatened.
Firstly, consider that a cat is of a similar size to your chihuahua, but they can be as much as three times bigger than your puppy. Any dog would feel intimidated by the size difference. But if a chihuahua has to choose between fight or flight, he will always go or the first one!
Moreover, they will both fight for who is the house boss in your family due to their natural instincts. Even if your cat has been a very reserved pet so far, don’t underestimate his willingness to be the only one around.
Lastly, Cats can easily injure your chihuahua, especially if he is still a puppy. They can jump up on your puppy from above, causing harm to your young Chihuahua, especially if there is a difference in weight between the two. Moreover, don’t forget that a chihuahua’s skin can be very tender and covered by a thin layer of fur. This means that the cat’s claws can harm it and scratch it easily, even if you thought they were only playing.
How can you increase your dog’s tolerance?
Chihuahuas can be feisty and territorial, so the chances are that your dog will attack first. If it does, your cat will not think twice about getting in the fight… and he will probably win it too!
Therefore, it is important to increase the tolerance of your dog towards cats and other puppies.
Unfortunately, you can’t actually test their interaction until you have brought your puppy home. In this case, it could be a good idea to convince a friend or neighbor with a kitten to bring it to your garden (not in the house) and see how they behave around each other. This will give you an indication of your cat or dog is ready to have companionship in the household.
Moreover, remember that chihuahuas can be extremely sensitive regarding the feelings of the people around them. So it is important that during these exercises you maintain a calm attitude and measured behavior. If you are not, your dog may think that he is in danger and you are not telling him, and this can damage the level of trust he has in you.
Be wary of the following attitudes in your dog, as they mean that your dog is not comfortable and can suddenly attack the cat:
- Staring: If your dog is staring at the cat, be ready to stop him or shorten the leash. This means that your Chihuahua is very aware of the feline and he might be ready to attack.
- Silence: If your dog does not make a noise, he is studying the adversary. He probably feels threatened and waiting for the cat to leave. As this will not happen, be ready to keep the dog next to you.
- The “ready position”: this is a clear sign that the dog does not like a feline in his territory, and he might never get along with a cat.
However, most chihuahuas only need a period of adaptation, and they will be able to tolerate the feline. In the worst-case scenario, they will ignore each other. If they do get along, you will have something amazing out of it!
If your dog has become familiar with the feline and they have accepted each other’s presence, you should not be experiencing problems for a long time. They will most likely take the protection of the house in turn and cohabitate happily.
However, even if they have become best friends, you should be aware of some precautions that need to be in place to maintain peace between the two animals.
Keep the Chihuahua away from the cat’s litter box:
Your dog might nibble on the cat’s droppings and be violently ill. This can also lead to more serious diseases. Therefore, keep the litter box in a confined space that only the cat.
Don’t forget that they are both territorial animals:
Feed them separately and allow for each to have a private space where they can feel at home. This will avoid you having to deal with territorial issues and fights that might arise.
Keep your teething puppy away from your cat’s toys:
If your puppy is teething, keep him away from other pets and their toys. In fact, he might be biting and mouthing your cat’s items. It is guaranteed that your cat will not like that!
Give them enough attention:
Do not prefer one pet over the other, as the second will suffer from a lack of attention. Even if the two are getting along, this can create big issues within the household.
Tips to introduce your Chihuahua to your cat
When introducing your newly adopted puppy to a cat, your cat’s reaction should be your main point of focus, especially if the cat is much older. Chihuahuas are known to get along with kids and kittens and, especially if they are still puppies, they will get used to the presence of another pet quickly.
However, keep these tips in mind as they can make a difference in whether the first meeting will be successful or not.
Keep your pets away from each other for the first few days
This will give time to the new pet to adapt to the yet unexplored environment of your house. Essentially, confine your dog with all the bedding, toys, and food while your cat explores the house. The following day uses a similar approach to confine your cat while your dog investigates his new house. This will allow both to understand their territories and get accustomed to the other pet’s smell even before they meet each other.
Bring them closer, but use a gate
This will allow the two pets to analyze each other closely. Since they will both be able to see you, give them similar attention. Moreover, be aware that they will sense if you are anxious or jumpy, so make sure to keep a relaxed and calm attitude during those meetings. If you notice either of your pets becoming aggressive, separate them and try again a few hours later.
Supervise their first face to face
The might hurt each other if unsupervised, so at least for the first time your Chihuahua meets the cat without a gate or restrictions, be present at all times. If your dog is still a puppy, you will not struggle to remove him from the situation. Otherwise, it is recommended to use a leash.
Observe their interaction
Once you are sure they won’t hurt each other, observe their interaction and body language from a distance. If you detect any signs of anxiety or aggressive behavior, remove them from the situation and confine them for a limited period of time.
Tips to bringing them close together
Once the first meetings are over, everything that is left to do is strengthening their bond! Sometimes, this includes not ruining the progress you were able to achieve during the first days.
Give them enough attention
If one of your pets is neglected, he will most likely blame it on the other. This can create troublesome situations, especially as one of them gets more jealous. Show them that they both can benefit from the same level of attention and love. This can include dedicating a portion of your day to play or cuddle your pets, individually or together. Initially, if you are rewarding your dog, do so for your cat as well. They are most likely to notice a different attitude in your behavior within the first few days.
Training is key!
Once your dog starts to get older, bring him to training sessions. Aside from teaching him tricks that can be useful in public and private spaces, he will also have the chance to socialize with other dogs and people. In this way, he will feel more used to the presence of others around him, and his tolerance towards other pets will increase.
If you can raise your kitten and Chihuahua at the same time, this will eliminate most of the territorial issues that can arise from their relationship. However, this is not always possible, as you might have decided to adopt a chihuahua or a cat afterward. In this case, implement some safety measures, plan their first meeting accurately, and love them both equally!
Do you have a chihuahua and a cat? Do they get along? Did you struggle with the process? Let us know by leaving a comment below!