Whippets are gentle, affectionate, and elegant companions and get along with everyone they meet.
You may be wondering if your whippet can get along with a cat and can they be a good companion.
Yes, Whippets can get along with cats. With the right training and early socialization, your Whippet will coexist perfectly with your cat.
Utilizing the right training tools and techniques will be very effective in introducing your Whippet to a cat and vice versa.
In this article, we’ll be diving into the temperament of Whippets, how to properly introduce your whippet to a cat, the various ways to ensure good companionship between a whippet and a cat, and what to do if they don’t get along.
Let’s get started.
The temperament of the Whippet
Although the whippet is generally friendly, its temperament can be affected by a few factors; heredity, socialization, and training. Whippets were originally bred to pursue and capture small game so they possess a strong prey drive. This makes them prone to harming furry little animals such as cats if not properly trained and socialized.
Whippets make great apartment pets. They rarely bark and have great instincts. This makes them good watchdogs.
Early exposure to sounds, sights, people, and various situations are necessary to help the whippet grow and maintain its independent temperament. Therefore, It is important that they are socialized and properly bred at an early age; whippets become timid when not properly socialized with family and other pets.
Introducing a whippet to a Cat
It usually takes a few weeks to a few months for a cat to get used to a dog. The personalities of both pets will affect how long this will take so be prepared to manage your pets’ interactions for the next several weeks or more.
Some key notes to take into account before starting the introduction are:
- Understand your whippet’s temperament before introducing a cat.
- Exercise your whippet properly before the first-ever introduction. This helps releases any pent-up energy and excitement that could spook your cat or get it injured.
- Interactions between whippets and cats should be supervised until they are properly socialized to prevent harm by both animals to one another.
- It is most efficient to introduce your whippet to a cat at a young age. This is because puppy whippets are curious and can easily be socialized with cats.
- Take extra care when introducing a young whippet to an adult cat, ensure that its claws are trimmed, to prevent harm to your whippet.
- In the same way, take caution while introducing an adult whippet to a kitten.
Whippets possess a strong prey drive and so their hunter instincts tend to kick in sometimes especially among furry little unfamiliar animals such as a kitten.
Having taken the above precautions and steps, you can begin the introduction.
1. Scent swapping
Keep the pets separate for at least the first 3–4 days. Prevent any contact until your new pet has had a vet checkup and has been cleared of illness.
While the pets are apart, swapping scents by exchanging pet play toys and blankets for instance will make the pets more accustomed to each other’s scent.
This will enable easy recognition of each other during the first meeting.
Confine your new pet in an ideal room with the door closed and a suitable escape route in case the pet feels threatened and wants to leave. The goal is to allow the pets to get used to each other’s presence without face-to-face contact.
2. Teach basic commands
Whippets are trained with patience, praise, consistency, and positive reinforcements. They are sensitive and will disobey if yelled at or forced to do something.
Cats are trained with patience and rewards. be sure to follow the practice of rewarding your cat for good behavior, rather than punishment for bad habits.
Use basic obedience cues such as “sit”, “stop” and “go” while training both pets.
This is important as you might need to get your pets under control and the use of these commands can come in handy.
3. Begin face-to-face meetings
Scent swapping makes the first meeting easier because the pets are already familiar with each other’s scent.
Keep the first few meetings short. Ensure that the dog is on a leash and that the nails of both animals are properly trimmed.
Also, ensure your whippet has been properly exercised before the face-to-face meeting.
Give simple commands and reward each pet for proper behavior.
4. Repeat sessions
It is important to study the behavior of each pet around the other. Repeat meeting sessions as often as necessary depending on convenience and the pet behaviors.
Allow your cat to leave as soon as it begins to show signs of stress and/or aggression and ensure that your whippet does not chase, hence the need for a leash.
5. Set them loose
Do not rush the introductions as they take time just as human interactions do.
When it is evident that they are getting along, set them loose together in a well-spaced room or fenced yard.
You can keep your whippet on a long leash to intervene quickly in case of a fallout.
How to stop whippets from chasing cats
Whippets are high-energy animals that require adequate daily exercise.
They are smart, willing, and obedient but tend to have a mind of their own. This means that they will disregard commands sometimes in favor of pursuing prey or any moving object.
Whippets should be trained to not chase. An effective method is the “recall and reward method’’ explained in the steps below
1. Set the mood
Walk your dog as you normally would every day. Keep it on a long leash and ensure there is no strain on its neck. Each day you’re going to drill on recall training until they’re no longer in the habit of chasing. It is advised that you do this before the first meeting of your whippet and a cat.
While walking, extend the leash putting some distance between you and your whippet. Call your whippet over in an audible but playful tone using its name or a simple command such as “come.”
Reward your whippet for obedience using treats, toys, and encouraging words. Over time, your whippet will make a habit of staying close and begin to associate you with positive consequences.
4. Avoid Harse Punishment
Do not yell at or scare your whippet. It is less likely to obey if you do that.
When they do disobey, calmly take them by the collar and lead them into a quiet corner for a time out. Ensure there are no toys. This will get them associating chasing with negative consequences.
5. Lose the Leash
After a while of recall training with a leash and visible progress, walk your whippet without a leash in a controlled/fenced area.
Continue to call it over and reward with treats if obeyed. This is a good way to test the ability to resist the urge to chase.
6. Wean them off the treats
Once your whippet is accustomed to this habit and doesn’t chase even with distractions around then it is time to gradually take away its dependency on treats as a reward for obeying.
Eventually, they would want to stay close to you without the expectation of being rewarded.
How to calm down an over-excited whippet
Young whippets, just like little children are super energetic, clumsy, and require a lot of attention. They run around in circles and can be hard to get back on their leash.
Notwithstanding, once they get to around 1–2 years old, whippets start to mature, and become a lot easier to handle. You may begin to notice behavioral changes as they grow older, they become much less destructive and are easier to train.
Below are some behavioral signs that show that your whippet is overexcited and ways to calm down your whippet if it is over-excited.
1. Hyperactive and Destructive
Whippets are somewhat calm dogs but as puppies, they tend to be troublesome and destructive. They have a lot of energy that requires dissipating.
They will chew on shoes, pillows, paper, and even furniture if it happened to be near them.
One way to stop your whippet from being destructive is to engage them physically and mentally. A whippet that isn’t trained right will grow to be destructive.
Whippets need solid exercise sessions during the day as well as general time to run about in the yard at will.
That, in addition to very consistent obedience training combined with specific toys that they are allowed to chew on (strategically chosen so that they do not resemble blankets, pillows, or house furniture).
This gives them the structure they needed to burn off energy while keeping their minds engaged.
2. They get quite yappy
Whippets are quiet dogs that rarely bark unless threatened. This makes them good watchdogs.
If your whippet is being loud and barking a lot, it is most likely that it is still young and would grow out of it.
The yappy phase is a phase that will pass, It is also a great way to spot a whippet’s age based on how loud they’re being.
What happens if they never get along
Before the domestication of cats and dogs, they were natural sworn enemies and didn’t get along. These instincts are inbuilt so the possibility that your whippet and cat may never get along should not be ruled out.
As earlier mentioned, the most effective way to get them to get along is to raise both together from the infantile stage, as puppy and kitten.
In a situation where they can’t get along and may even be causing harm to each other, pay attention to note the causes of conflict and try to resolve them either individually or together.
If this persists, it is advisable to consult a vet, an ethologist, or a breeder who specializes in animal behaviors.
Both animals can be quite territorial, so this process will take a little while for both animals to get used to the idea but providing adequate attention and care for each pet individually and together will have them properly socialized.