The Shetland Sheepdog, better known as Shelties, are herding dogs well known to be intelligent, obedient, and agile dogs, also known to be friendly and sociable.
Do they get along with cats?
Shelties and cats get along and coexist just fine. Even though they are naturally bred to be herding dogs, the right socialization would help them develop a good relationship with your cat.
It is important to pay attention to their first introduction because your cat could feel threatened and weary, but with the right steps and techniques, they can become great friends over time.
In this article, we would look at what you need to know before introducing a Shetland Sheepdog to a cat and vice versa, so you can have pets who live in harmony.
Let’s get started.
Temperament of Shelties
Shelties are known as active and agile dogs as earlier stated. These are some of the traits that endear them to pet owners.
Being energetic dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to run around a lot to exert their energy. The downside is, this agility can make other pets around them feel threatened.
Shelties are also sensitive and affectionate dogs. This trait makes it easy for them to get along with other pets.
Shelties are also smart dogs and can be very stubborn. Do not let it bother you, it is something you can handle with the right training and early socialization.
Does Their Herding Behavior Affect Their Relationship With Cats?
Shetland Sheepdogs are herding dogs. Herding dogs are bred specially for herding livestock. In this case, shelties, as indicated in their name are sheepherders.
Shelties belong to the category of loose-eyed herding dogs. It means that they use their body and movement to control and move the sheep. It is little wonder why they are so agile and energetic.
Shetland Sheepdogs can develop a behavioral problem when they are not living the herd life.
These behavioral problems can manifest in different ways:
Despite their agility and sensitivity, shelties are naturally reserved dogs. However, some individual dogs can become extremely shy. It makes it difficult for Shetland Sheepdog to interact with other pets. It would find it hard to develop a relationship with your cat.
It is in their nature to work and protect as herders, and they would instinctively sound the alarm when something is amiss.
This behavior makes them suspicious of strangers, including pets that they are not familiar with, and they would tend to bark in this situation. This excessive barking might make them come off as hostile to your cat.
If your Shelties had a flock to look after, it would be natural for it to nip at the heels of the sheep to keep them in line.
Since they are not able to do that, you might find them chasing and nipping at anything that moves, including your cat.
Smart and intelligent dogs like Shelties need to be kept busy to keep them from getting bored. When they are bored, they become restless and hyperactive.
You would find them jumping and running around aimlessly. This kind of behavior might put your cat off with it.
However, do not let these behavioral problems discourage you from raising a Shetland sheepdog and a cat together because they can be adjusted.
What it requires on your part is time and dedication to your little dog so it can adapt to its new socialization. The training you give your dog would help it overcome shyness, excessive barking, and control nipping.
As earlier mentioned, Shelties are smart and intelligent, and with the right training, you can get him or her to heed to your commands and instructions.
How to Introduce Your Shetland Sheepdog to Your Cat
Despite the herding nature of Shetland sheepdogs, they can co-exist peacefully with cats. It only requires planning, dedicating time, and skill to actualize it.
Here are a few useful steps and techniques in acquainting your dog with your cat
1. The Earlier the Better
Shetland Sheepdog and cats get along best if they become familiar with each other as puppies and kittens.
Growing up together would help them form a bond that would help make their relationship as they grow older smooth.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Sheltie
Whether they are young or old, it is better to introduce your cat and your Shelties under supervision. You should have your dog on a leash just in case he/she decides to nip or chase. It is to ensure your cat is safe.
3. Create an Escape Route
Creating a safe space for the cat to run to in case he/she feels threatened is very important. This safe space should be a place above the reach of the dog.
4. Switch Living Areas
Your cat and your Shelties have the capabilities to take in their surroundings through their sense of smell. You should utilize this in helping them get acquainted with each other.
Since they both have a strong sense of smell. Try to switch their sleeping blankets from time to time so that your cat can get used to the smell of Shelties before bringing them together.
If they become familiar with the sight and smell of each other, no one feels threatened or feels like a threat.
5. Take things slow
Ensure not to force them to interact. It might take a few days and even weeks for your pets to become acquainted with each other. Each day, try again to bring them close to each other.
Praise your pets or give them treats if they get along without barking or hissing.
How to ensure they co-exist together, peacefully
Now that your cat and Shetland Sheepdog have gotten to know one another, let us see how you can make them continue to live peacefully.
Provide different feeding and sleeping areas
For them not to have reason to fight, ensure that your cat and Shelties are fed separately and away from each other.
You should also know that an improperly trained dog would eat cat food if left unsupervised. It is thus advisable that you endeavor to keep your cat food away from your Shetland Sheepdog.
Also, provide different sleeping areas for your pets. These would make them feel in control of their environment.
Respect Cats Privacy
Ensure to place your cat litter box at a place where your Shelties cannot reach it.
Cats enjoy privacy. Keeping your dog away from the litter box will go a long way in not frustrating the cat.
Consider purchasing a covered litter box that your cat can reach without problems, but your dog would find it hard to access.
Command and Train
Shetland Sheepdogs are bred as herding dogs and are intelligent and easy to train. Use their abilities as an advantage to get them to behave how you want them to behave around your cat.
Your Shelties would surely be less difficult to train than your cat, so it is better to focus more on getting him/her to behave properly.
Provide adequate attention to both pets
You might find your Sheltie more fun and interesting and might tend to play more with him/her. However, that does not mean you should completely ignore your cat.
Cats have feelings and should never feel like they have been abandoned. Your cat should feel loved and appreciated.
Provide your cat and Shelties with an equal amount of love and attention, so that they don’t become jealous and despise each other.
What happens if they never get along?
Try as you might, your pets might end up never getting along. This is a rare possibility, but you should accept it if it happens.
If they keep having conflicts, try to understand the causes of their quarrels, and work at resolving them.
If the situation persists, it is advisable to take guidance from a vet doctor with a specialty in ethology.
What is important to note is that your Shetland Sheepdog can exist peacefully with your cat, and it is better to familiarize them when they are still a young puppy and kitten.
It is also very normal for the cat to be afraid of the dog initially, but with time and dedication from you, the cat and your Shetland sheepdog could become more accommodating and tolerant of each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions you might be interested in knowing their answers:
Can a Sheltie kill a cat?
No. Shelties and cats might get into a fight and, your shelties could give your cat an injury, but it wouldn’t be so bad that it would kill it.
Can Shelties impregnate a cat?
Shelties are dogs, therefore, cannot impregnate cats because they are mammals of different species.
Can Shelties eat cat food?
Yes, dogs can eat cat food, but they shouldn’t eat cat food because they usually contain a high amount of fat, which could put your shelties at risk of some diseases. These diseases include diabetes and pancreatitis.
Can shelties and cats become best friends?
Certainly. Shetland Sheepdogs can become best friends.
It is usually the case when they are introduced and have become familiar with each other from a young age, like puppies and kittens.