Happy, social, and always in search of a snack, Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds. These tail-wagging tiny hounds are well-known for their friendly nature towards people of all ages and dogs of all types. But what if you want to expand your family and add a cat into the mix? Will your Beagle welcome a new feline friend?
Because they were originally bred as hunting dogs, Beagles do have the instinct to chase smaller animals. Many hounds and other hunting breeds don’t do well with cats for this reason. However, every Beagle is different and not all Beagles have as strong of a hunting drive as others. In many cases, Beagles can get along well with cats, especially if you take the time to properly introduce the two animals.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to decide whether your Beagle might do well with a cat, as well as how to pick a dog-friendly feline. We’ll also look at some tips to get your cat and Beagle relationship off on the right foot.
Is Your Beagle Ready for A Cat?
Although they are generally the most good-natured of breeds, Beagles are still hounds, however small. They’re driven to follow their noses and work in a pack to chase small, fast-moving animals. Before you commit to bringing home a cat, take some time to observe your Beagle’s behavior.
If your Beagle already tries to chase any cats they encounter in your neighborhood, it’s a pretty safe bet that they will do the same to your new cat. Now, if you are dedicated, it could be possible to train your Beagle to behave properly around a family cat once they are accepted as part of the pack. However, this might be a risk you’d rather not take.
Even if an individual Beagle shows no interest in chasing cats, the situation often changes when there’s more than one Beagle involved. Once they are in a pack situation, Beagles’ hunting instincts are more likely to take over. If you have more than one Beagle in your family, you may want to think twice before bringing home a cat.
Choosing The Right Cat
As they say, it takes two to tango, and a successful cat and Beagle relationship doesn’t just depend on the Beagle’s personality. Whatever cat you bring home will need to be the right fit as well.
An ideal situation would be for your new cat to already be used to living with dogs. Many rescue cats come from a multi-pet household and might easily make the switch to living with your Beagle.
If you don’t know whether your potential new cat is familiar with dogs, take a look at their behavior. If they seem shy, frightened or they try to run and hide, they may not be the best choice for a Beagle friend. The less a cat acts like scared prey, the less likely a Beagle is to give in to its desire to chase.
You can also test a potential new cat’s reaction to the smell of your Beagle. Bring one of your dog’s toys or blankets for the cat to smell. If the cat hisses, growls, or seems fearful of the dog smell, they probably aren’t going to enjoy living with the actual dog. A cat who shows interest or even just ignores the dog-scented items is a better candidate.
Getting a dog-friendly adult cat to pair with your Beagle may be a better choice than a kitten. Kittens are tiny, fast-moving, and fearless, all traits that make them harder to resist as chase toys. If you’re bringing a Beagle puppy into the house, an adult cat is more likely to tolerate or just avoid puppy playfulness.
How To Introduce Your Beagle to a Cat
You’ve decided both you and your Beagle are ready to welcome home a cat. You picked out the perfect feline friend and now you’re ready to take the next step and introduce your Beagle and cat. Well, not so fast. The first rule of introducing a cat to any dog is to take your time and not rush things. Both dog and cat need to have space and time to learn how to get along.
Here are some other suggestions for how to successfully manage to introduce your Beagle and cat.
1. Make Sure Your Beagle Is on Its Best Behavior
Beagles can be stubborn but are also extraordinarily food-motivated. Teaching your Beagle basic obedience commands gives you a way to keep them under control during first introductions to the cat. Making sure your Beagle gets lots of exercise, as well as plenty of opportunities to chase things other than a cat, also helps ensure a smooth start to their relationship.
2. Let Them Use Their Noses First
Beagles specialize in using their noses and cats are no slackers when it comes to this sense either. Letting the (hopefully) new best friends get used to each other’s smell before they meet face to face is a great way to start.
There are several different ways to go about this. One is to let the cat and dog spend time with blankets or toys that smell like the other. Another popular technique is to feed the dog and cat on either side of a closed door, allowing them to learn each other’s scent and also form a positive association between their new friend and yummy food!
3. Make The Cat Feel Safe
As the cat and Beagle begin to get to know each other, the cat is more likely to be willing to participate if they know they have somewhere to escape. This can be a higher place like a shelf, cat tree, or the top of the refrigerator. It could also be a room that the dog can’t get into, either gated off or accessible only by a cat door. Even cats who love their Beagles appreciate a space to themselves and it’s a must as you begin to introduce your cat and Beagle.
4. Keep It Positive
As you begin to allow your cat and Beagle to interact, make sure the experience is safe and positive for both of them.
Keep your Beagle either on a leash or otherwise restrained when they first meet the cat. Make sure the cat can escape the room if they need to. Never force your cat and Beagle to interact if either is unsure or uneasy.
Give plenty of praise and rewards as a reinforcement whenever a positive interaction does occur, even if it’s just the animals ignoring each other but staying in the same room. Baby steps can eventually lead to big gains.
5. Ask The Experts
If you’re nervous about introducing your cat and Beagle, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your veterinarian can offer guidance on ways to help your dog and cat get along. And if your introductions aren’t going well, the vet can often prescribe some medications to help everyone calm down, or refer you to a behavioral specialist.
Other Breeds That Get Along With Cats (And a Few Who Don’t)
The most important factor in whether a dog gets along with cats probably isn’t going to be the breed of the dog but their personality. And the work put in by the owner to help the dog and cat get used to each other. However, some breeds are more likely to have the personality to not only tolerate but enjoy living with a cat. Besides the Beagle, here are some other breeds who usually get along with cats:
On the other hand, some breeds are less likely to get along with cats. Usually, these are breeds bred to hunt, either by sight or scent, with a high prey drive. Here are a few breeds that generally don’t get along with cats.
As always, remember that all dogs are individuals, and just because a dog is on this list doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to learn to live with a cat. It does mean that it’s likely to be more of a challenge and there’s more of a risk involved. Experienced pet owners may be up for it but others may prefer to stick with breeds less likely to cause problems.
Despite traditionally being considered enemies, cats and dogs are more than capable of learning to live together and even of forming deep friendships. Beagles, despite their hunting background, can get along with cats with the proper introductions and encouragement. Remember to supervise your Beagle (and any dog) when they’re learning to live with a cat. Even the best relationships go through rocky patches, and your Beagle and cat are no different. Keep the experience safe and positive for all involved, and your Beagle and cat can be well on their way to a storybook ending.
You might also be interested in: Do Cats and Guinea Pigs Get Along? Everything You Need to Know!
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
- Is Your Beagle Ready for A Cat?
- Choosing The Right Cat
- How To Introduce Your Beagle to a Cat
- Other Breeds That Get Along With Cats (And a Few Who Don’t)