Whether you’re looking for a first pet or searching for a cat to join a household with other animals, you can’t really go wrong with a British Shorthair. Calm and friendly, British Shorthairs are some of the easiest cats to get along with.
They are among the best housecats you could hope to meet and don’t mind sharing their space with other pets.
Are British Shorthair cats good with dogs? Yes, the patient and social nature of the British Shorthair makes them very good with dogs.
If you’ve found your way to this page, you have questions about placing a dog with a British Shorthair or vice-versa. Maybe you’re a current dog owner but want to add a cat to your household; maybe you currently own a British Shorthair and are looking for information before you bring home that new puppy.
- What do you need to know before introducing a dog to your cat or a cat to your dog?
- How can you help your British Shorthair cat adjust to a dog?
- Which dog breeds are easiest for a cat to get along with?
- How about other pets?
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We have the answers you’re looking for – just read on to find out everything you need to know.
Cats and dogs as friends?
Are British Shorthair cats good with dogs? I would have no hesitation in answering “yes” to that question. Of course, there are caveats. Much depends on the dog — some breeds and temperaments will definitely be easier for your British Shorthair cat to get along with than others. The British Shorthair is absolutely famous for having a peaceable and imperturbable nature.
Although not a clingy breed, this cat is loving and social, enjoying the company and readily becoming attached to humans, other cats and — yes — dogs. One of the nice things about the British Shorthair is her accommodating natureñ she won’t immediately respond with aggression if another pet is annoying her, instead of removing herself to a safe distance and waiting for things to calm down.
Conduct that might normally earn a dog a painful swat across the muzzle will result in nothing worse than the cold shoulder from the stoical Shorthair. (This long-suffering temperament makes British Shorthairs a great fit for homes with children, too.) The British Shorthair is an intelligent animal who likes games and will cheerfully play with a dog. In fact, the right dog can actually be quite beneficial for the British Shorthair. Having an enthusiastic playmate helps keep the cat alert and entertained. The company of a dog may also help to avert this breed’s unfortunate tendency to become a bit of a couch potato as they get older.
They’re a good influence on this rather sedentary breed. The most important thing in avoiding tensions is the dog’s own nature. An aggressive dog with an overly strong prey response should not be allowed to live with a cat, in general. Some friendly dogs with poor boundaries can also make life miserable for your cat, even the calm and forbearing British Shorthair.
Later in this article, we’ll look at the breeds and temperaments that are a good fit for your British Shorthair cat and how to make sure your pets have the best chance of getting along.
What kind of dog is best for a home with a British Shorthair?
It goes without saying that large, aggressive dogs with a tendency to attack smaller animals should not be allowed to interact with your British Shorthair. They may injure or even kill your cat. In general, you need a breed that has a social nature and low aggression.
Dogs that were originally bred for sports are sometimes quite a good fit for a British Shorthair cat. Breeds from the toy group are even better; they’re physically small and non-threatening, as well as having very affectionate and caring natures. Breed groups that are not such a good fit include those bred for herding. Intelligence is good but dogs with a herding instinct can annoy cats immensely — they may attempt to shepherd your British Shorthair around, which won’t go down well. Dogs bred to pursue smaller animals, such as terriers, can often be a bad match. (As much as I adore Jack Russells, for instance,
I have to admit that their antics can be very unsettling for a cat). Having said all this, I have to admit that breed type isn’t even the most important factor. A dog of the “wrong” breed can get along famously with a British Shorthair provided that particular individual is well-trained and properly socialised.
The ideal dog is one who has been allowed to spend time with a cat during puppy-hood and has been trained to leave the cat alone when prompted to back off. This caveat aside, let’s look at some specific breeds that may get on especially well with your British Shorthair.
Which specific breeds are the best companions for a British Shorthair?
- The Beagle is an example of a hunting dog that can do very well with cats and other pets. Because they have been selected for generations to function well as part of a pack of hounds, beagles are social and know how to get along with other creatures – even if they’re not dogs.
- Although they’re a member of the herding category, border collies can sometimes get on well with British Shorthairs. As long as the dog’s herding instincts can be channelled away from the cat, the intelligence, playfulness and social nature of the collie can make them a good companion.
- Labrador retrievers, although a larger dog, are very friendly and loving. They are protective and their instinct is to look after smaller creatures like cats. As well as enjoying games, the Labrador also enjoys snuggling with cats when it’s nap time.
- The Bichon frisé is a popular choice for cat owners. They’re affectionate and very, very friendly. The only problem with these fluffy little dogs is that they can be a bit too clingy, which can get on the nerves of the more reserved British Shorthair from time to time. On the whole, though, they’re a good match.
- The Papillion is an adorable pup with a wonderfully friendly nature. This toy dog is only about the size of a large cat, meaning that aggression isn’t really an issue. In any case, the Papillion is what you might call a social butterfly — this breed really loves being in a full household with plenty of other animals to play with.
- The Maltese is a smaller dog and bred specifically for companionship. They’re a lovely pet for a cat-owning household. The Maltese is amiable, playful and affectionate without being too full-on – a nice match for the British Shorthair.
I want to introduce a cat and dog to each other. How can I ensure a positive outcome?
You need to be realistic about your expectations. Understand that your pets may not get along easily from the get-go and be aware that some individuals just end up being incompatible. There are ways to increase the probability of success, however. The first thing to remember is that it really helps if the dog has been socialised around cats from puppyhood. You can obviously do this yourself by establishing your British Shorthair and then introducing a puppy.
When choosing a mature dog, you can look for an animal who’s already got a good track record of being around cats and other animals. Don’t force the animals to meet face to face straight away — keep them separate so they can get used to each other’s smells and vocalisations.
Gradually introduce the animals to each other, starting with brief visits with the dog firmly leashed. Don’t punish the dog for an inappropriate reaction — your dog doesn’t understand what’s happening and may become hostile to your British Shorthair if seeing the cat means getting hurt. Praise and reward appropriate behaviour and separate the animals if they get aggressive or the interaction becomes stressful to either.
Ensure that the cat has a safe place to retreat to if the interaction gets too much for them — somewhere the dog can’t access. It is vital that you don’t ignore the potential risk that a dog, even a small and friendly dog, may pose to your cat. Cats swat and bite but rarely severely injure dogs. If the dog hasn’t already been socialised to regard cats as companions, your beloved British Shorthair could be attacked and even killed.
My British Shorthair and my dog don’t really get on well. What can I do?
This is why it’s vital to prepare and plan ahead before bringing a cat into a dog-owning household or getting a dog when you already have a British Shorthair. Don’t just ignore the situation — it’s very stressful for both pets.
The British Shorthair is living in a state of constant dread and anxiety due to being harassed by the dog, forced to hide under furniture or on top of the cupboard every time the dog comes into the room. For the dog’s part, being cooped up with a creature you want to hunt and can’t access must be a constant source of frustration.
A careful, slow introduction programme where the dog is caged or leashed and the cat has easy access to an escape route can help to adjust the balance between these two animals. Separate the animals, ideally putting them in separate rooms.
Slowly reintroduce them through more controlled interactions: through a baby gate, for instance. Behave affectionately and positively towards both animals — the dog needs to see you enjoying your cat’s company and vice-versa to promote trust. Use rewards to encourage positive interactions; if your dog looks at the cat but doesn’t move to chase her, praise your dog and give treats.
Do the same thing when he ignores the cat and gives her space. If the dog attempts to chase the cat, don’t punish him. Instead, distract the dog with a toy or a fun activity such as a walk. Do not allow the animals to interact unsupervised. Make sure they’re safely separated whenever you’re out of the house if you have any suspicion that the dog might harm the cat.
Are there any benefits to the British Shorthair from having a dog in the house?
Despite the potential problems, the right dog can be an excellent companion for a British Shorthair. This breed is fairly quiet but really does enjoy games and toys when encouraged to play. A well-disciplined, cat-friendly dog makes a wonderful playmate.
This is important as your British Shorthair gets older — this breed tends to slow down a lot over the years and may become very unfit. Having a playmate to keep her active can really help with her health, as well as providing mental stimulation. The reverse is also true: the cat can be very beneficial for the dog. Once you’re certain your dog won’t become aggressive towards your British Shorthair, the cat can help support the dog if you leave them in the house alone.
Dogs tend to be clingy and can become genuinely upset when their owners are away; having another animal friend in the home helps reassure nervous dogs and stops them from becoming fractious and distressed. The patient, sociable British Shorthair is ideal for this role. If you do plan to leave your cat and dog alone together, make sure they have a really good relationship and that the cat has somewhere safe to retreat to if things get uncomfortable.
Even if your British Shorthair is not in any physical danger, it’s good to have a quiet spot to curl up in if the energetic pooch gets a bit much.
Are there any other things I should do to keep my pets safe and healthy
One thing to watch out for is the tendency for dogs and cats to go for each other’s food. First of all, it can cause friction between the animals if there are quarrels over food. Secondly, the less dominant animal may end up getting insufficient food if the more dominant animal eats everything.
Another consideration is that the appropriate diet for a dog is not an appropriate diet for your British Shorthair. Cat and dog foods are formulated specifically for those animals and it’s not actually healthy to feed the wrong foods to the wrong animals. In particular, the cat should not be eating the dog’s food. Dog food often contains vegetable fillers, especially grain. This isn’t too bad for dogs but it’s bad for cats — especially an increasingly sedentary older British Shorthair.
These cats don’t get enough nutrition from the food and end up taking on too many empty calories — bad news when they already tend to get a bit tubby. Feed your pets separately and don’t let either of them raid the other’s bowl. Another delicate issue that we need to touch on is your cat’s litter tray, which needs to be placed somewhere the dog can’t get at it. A litter-box with a lid and a flap will prevent most dogs from doing anything distasteful with the contents.
Dogs and cats can infect each other with diseases or parasites so make sure everyone is up-to-date on their shots, medications and flea treatments. This is especially important if the dog is allowed to roam around outdoors, as he’s likely to bring things back to the house.
What other cat breeds are good with dogs?
British Shorthairs are one of the best breeds to have around a dog: sociable, intelligent and loyal, they bond with well-disposed dogs almost as easily as with humans.
They’re far from the only cat who can enjoy a little canine companionship, however. Other breeds that may make a good match for your pup include the large, amiable Maine Coon. These rugged New England characters are very friendly and extremely dog-like themselves. They delight in playing fetch, swimming and other “doggy” activities. Another longhair, the Norwegian Forest cat, has a similar temperament and is an excellent match – this plus-sized ball of energy is more than able to hold his own around a lively new pup and seems to relish playing with dogs.
Abyssinians are terrific friends for dogs; these Einsteins of the feline world are very playful and just love interacting with other pets, including dogs (although you may need to periodically retrieve your dog’s toys from wherever “grabby Abbie” has stashed them). The large, cuddlesome Ragdoll gets on well with just about anyone and will happily make friends with the dog — even dogs who aren’t terribly friendly find it difficult to resist the sociable Ragdoll’s charms.
Other popular cat breeds for dog-lovers are the cute blue-eyed Tonkinese, the densely furred Siberian and the vivacious Japanese Bobtail. The latter takes well to being walked on a lead so you can even take her out with your dogs.