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Are Australian Shepherds Typically Good with Cats? Facts, & FAQ

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

australian shepherd with a cat

The Australian Shepherd is a dog with a huge personality and boundless energy, so how do they do sharing a household with cats? Pretty well on average, according to Australian Shepherd owners. The general consensus is that well-socialized Australian Shepherds get along just fine with cats, though sometimes, their natural herding instincts can get the better of them.

In this post, we’ll explore what Australian Shepherd parents have to say about how they get along with cats and give you a heads-up if there’s anything you need to watch out for.

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Are Australian Shepherds Good with Cats?

To find the answer to this question, we checked out various online forums to learn about Australian Shepherd owners’ experiences sharing a home with both species. Most said that they have had a positive experience, though some say their Australian Shepherds don’t get along with cats. As with any breed, it really depends on the dog and how well they’ve been socialized with cats.

Those who own Australian Shepherds that get along with cats mentioned that their Aussies enjoy spending time with, cuddling, following, and even licking their cats—sometimes much to the cats’ annoyance! Likewise, some said that their cat enjoys spending time with their Australian Shepherd just as much and, in some cases, the pair have even become best friends.

From our research, it appears that even the most well-meaning Australian Shepherds can be a bit of a pain in the butt to their feline friends with behaviors like unwanted licking, nudging, and sometimes giving in to their herding tendencies. As a high-energy breed, Australian Shepherds sometimes don’t understand when everyone around them isn’t as “go, go, go!” as they are.

Though these Australian Shepherds aren’t trying to harm the cats, they’re certainly making themselves a bit of a nuisance! The good news is that these dogs aren’t being aggressive toward the cats. Some also mentioned that their Australian Shepherds have a habit of chasing cats—again, this harks back to their herding instincts.

Those who said their Australian Shepherds don’t get along with cats gave varying reasons why—some said their Australian Shepherds chase the cats too much, whereas others have said that it’s actually the Australian Shepherd that’s afraid of the cats! In all fairness, we totally get this—many cats give just as good as they get and can hold their own perfectly well.

Red Tri-Australian Shepherd
Image Credit: Fotoschauer, Shutterstock

How Can I Make Sure My Australian Shepherd Gets Along with My Cat?

If you’re planning on bringing an Australian Shepherd home, the key to making sure things run smoothly is socialization, socialization, socialization. The good news is that any dog, regardless of breed, can learn to get along with cats with a bit of time, patience, and consistency.

Ideally, you’ll want to start socializing your Aussie as a puppy—the earlier they learn, the easier it will be later on. Introduce your puppy to your cat gradually, first by letting them sniff at each other under a door for a while before allowing them to meet face-to-face. When you do progress to face-to-face meetings, keep your puppy on a leash so you can control the situation.

Whenever your puppy is calm around or gentle with your cat, reward them with a treat. You may even want to try the same trick with your cat!

If your Aussie is an older dog that you’ve adopted, they may need to brush up on their manners before you introduce them to your cat. It’s a little harder with older dogs as their habits are already ingrained, but you can still change their behavior with time and consistency.

Keep them separate at first as you would a puppy and let them gradually get accustomed to each other by hearing and smelling before seeing. Keep early meetings safe by keeping your Australian Shepherd on a leash, just like with puppies.

Make sure your Australian Shepherd knows basic commands like “sit” and “leave it” so you can better control their interactions with your cat. Reward calmness and gentle behavior with treats and praise to show your adult Australian Shepherd that this behavior is what you want from them. Keep up with socialization “sessions” daily.

Before you adopt an Australian Shepherd, find out as much information as you can from the rescue organization or previous owner about how they interact with other pets. This will help you make a decision and give you some ideas as to how best to make sure your Australian Shepherd and cat’s friendship blossoms.

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Final Thoughts

As with any breed, some Australian Shepherds are good with cats and some are not. Many Australian Shepherd owners have reported that their Aussie shares a bond with their cat/cats and that they get along swimmingly. On the other hand, some have reported chasing behaviors and territorial behaviors that mean their Australian Shepherd simply doesn’t get along with cats.

In short, if socialized alongside cats with lots of positive reinforcement, there’s no reason why an Australian Shepherd won’t live harmoniously with cats. As long as you’re prepared to invest the time and energy into making sure both your pets are as comfortable and happy with each other as possible, you should be just fine.

Featured Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

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