Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Are Irish Setters Good with Cats? Read Before Introducing Them

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

irish setter dog panting in the meadow

Irish Setters are rambunctious, good-natured dogs happy to spend time with humans, other dogs, and cats. These dogs are rarely shy or withdrawn, so they’re the perfect choice for an active family.

Still, Irish Setters are individuals. If you want to combine an Irish Setter with a cat, here’s everything you need to know.


About the Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a type of gundog that was bred to hunt. They were used for setting or locating and pointing upland game birds. They have an excellent sense of smell, remarkable obedience, and plenty of energy.

These dogs are happy to meet new people and pets, get along with children and other dogs, and usually do well with cats. Even if they’re not used for hunting, they are prized as a companion and pet, provided they get enough exercise and stimulation. If the dog’s needs aren’t met, they can be destructive or hyperactive.

irish setter dog in the forest
Photo Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock

Are Irish Setters Good With Cats?

Many Irish Setters do well with cats, especially if they’re raised with cats from puppyhood. They are a hunting breed, however, so small animals that offer opportunities to chase, including cats, can be a problem. Even if they don’t chase a cat, their rambunctious play can be dangerous with a cat’s size.

Should I Get an Irish Setter if I Have a Cat?

As mentioned, most Irish Setters get along well with cats. If you already have a cat and you bring home an Irish Setter puppy, there’s a much better chance that your cat and dog will happily coexist. You have an opportunity to train good habits and discourage behaviors that can escalate, such as chasing.

If you rescue an adult Irish Setter, be sure to ask if the Setter has been raised with cats and gets along with them. Most rescues verify if their adoptable pets get along with children, dogs, and other cats. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee that the dog will get along with your cat, but it’s a good start.

irish setter puppy sitting on lawn
Image Credit: Sheleh Vadzim, Shutterstock

Tips to Introduce a Dog and Cat

Whether you’re bringing home an Irish Setter or a cat, the best outcome comes from patient introductions.

Here are some tips for a smooth transition:
  • Divide your house. Use baby gates or exercise pens if possible, or simply close doors to keep your dog and cat separated initially.
  • Introduce your pets through a transparent barrier. Baby gates and exercise pens are ideal to allow your dog and cat to see and smell each other without risks.
  • Swap scents and share meals. Sharing bedding between the two pets will help them get familiar with one another’s scent. The next step is to feed them simultaneously on either side of a divider.
  • Remove the boundary. Once both of your pets are around each other (through the barrier) without signs of fear or aggression, you can remove the barrier and supervise interactions. It’s best to keep your dog leashed. Pay close attention to body language. If you notice any signs of fear or aggression, cut the visit short.
  • Remove the leash. After moving around with both pets, remove the leash and see how the animals interact. Make sure your cat has an opportunity to escape.
  • If the interactions go well, take a step back and allow your pets to interact with each other without you in the middle. Stay close in case things escalate, however.
  • Don’t leave them alone. It may take a long time before your dog and cat will be safe to interact alone. Avoid unsupervised time together until you’re sure they get along.



Irish Setters are friendly, sociable dogs that often get along with people, children, and other pets—including cats. They are hunting dogs, however, so it’s important to take introductions slowly and ensure that your cat doesn’t inspire your Irish Setter to chase or become aggressive.

Featured Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database