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Are Jack Russell Terriers Good With Cats? Behavior Facts & Tips

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

jack russell terrier dog lying next to a white fluffy cat in a cage

Jack Russell Terriers are generally happy-go-lucky dogs that have plenty of energy and a natural desire to work. They love spending time with their human companions and are protective of their domain. These awesome hunters can help keep rats and other pests at bay within the home. But do they get along with cats?

The short answer is, no, Jack Russell Terriers aren’t usually good with cats. However, there is hope! Some Jack Russell Terriers can indeed learn to get along with felines. Here’s the lowdown.

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Jack Russell Terriers Aren’t Great With Cats

Jack Russell Terriers are amazing companions for humans who like to spend time outdoors hiking, camping, spending time at the beach, and exploring the world in general. They are highly energetic and require plenty of exercise each day. They love to play at home whenever they have the opportunity. They also happen to be extremely loyal to their human “pack leader.”

However, the average Jack Russell Terrier has a strong instinct to hunt, and cats like to run. Therefore, they don’t usually see cats as friends upon meeting them. They are likely to chase cats outdoors whenever they see them, and they are not likely to get along in the same home with them if they weren’t raised with them from early puppyhood.

This breed isn’t always good with other dogs or children either. They tend to be territorial and aren’t known for being great “sharers” when it comes to their toys, bedding, and favorite places to hang out or nap. If you’re adopting a Jack Russell Terrier from a rescue organization like the Humane Society, there is a high risk that the dog won’t get along with any cats, other dogs, or children.

However, all is not lost. A Jack Russell Terrier can learn how to get along with cats in their household.

Woman holding a white fluffy cat and Jack Russell Terrier dog while sitting on the bed
Photo Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Here’s How Jack Russell Terriers Can Get Along With Cats

It is possible to get a Jack Russell Terrier to get along with a cat and consider them a friend rather than a foe when they’re living in the same household. The trick is to make sure your Jack Russell Terrier is introduced to your cat when they are still young. They should be small enough that they cannot do any harm to your kitty if they become aggressive and that they can easily be separated from the cat if anything does happen.

You should start by introducing the cat to the puppy slowly. Don’t force your kitty to interact. Just give them an opportunity to hang out in the same room together. Carefully monitor their interactions to ensure that neither is being aggressive. Chances are that your cat will be more interested in the puppy than threatened if they are small and young enough. Try to introduce your new Jack Russell Terrier pup to your cat by the age of 8 weeks.

Utilize positive reinforcement when encouraging your puppy and cat to bond. Offer treats, give plenty of love, and engage in low-key activities that are unlikely to rile up either of them. By the time that your Jack Russell Terrier becomes an adult, they will be used to living with the household cat and should be able to get along with them in most, if not all, situations.

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Final Thoughts

The average Jack Russell Terrier, especially one that is grown and hasn’t spent time around cats, is not a good pet candidate for households where cats already reside. However, it is possible to teach a young Jack Russell Terrier how to get along with a household cat with plenty of work, consistency, and patience.


Featured Photo Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Authored by

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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