You can’t help but wonder if pointers get along with cats given their background. Cats and dogs have been living in harmony for years centuries, but breeds can definitely change how friendly they are to one another.
Pointers don’t naturally get along with cats. They have a prey drive that makes them want to chase and sometimes kill small animals. Pointers can get along with cats if they are raised and trained with them.
Dogs are probably the most trainable pets. This is good news, especially when trying to introduce a hunting dog to a small prey-like animal such as a cat. There’s more to a cat-pointer relationship than meets the eye, and there are things you can do to make a good relationship between them.
Pointer’s Predator-Prey Instincts
The pointer is a dog that was bred for hunting small animals and birds. It is in their genes and helps to dictate their instincts when it comes to certain things.
When a pointer sees a bird, squirrel, rabbit, cat, or other small animals outside, their immediate response will be to chase it. In the hunting field, they were always expected to follow the scent of small prey and “point” it out for their hunter.
This causes hyper-awareness of the presence of small animals around them. When small animals run away from pointers, their “prey drive” instincts kick in and they have to chase.
This is something that new owners need to keep in mind when introducing new pointers into their homes with cats or vice-versa. The same thing can happen to people with pet rodents, rabbits, and birds in their homes.
Pointers will be very curious about all of the small animals roaming around making noises and smells that intrigue them. Pointers aren’t aggressive animals, but that strong predator-prey instinct can’t be ignored without training. They simply don’t know any better.
Most people say that the best method to have pointer-cat harmony is by introducing them as a puppy and a kitten. Pointers and cats that grow up together seem to do a lot better than trying to introduce them after they have grown and those instincts have fully developed.
That being said, it’s not impossible to help acclimate an older pointer to a cat-ridden household.
Raising Pointer Puppies with Cats
The best way to have harmony between your pointer and cat(s) is to raise them together as puppies and kittens. This may not be ideal for your particular situation, but it is the most effective method.
This method, however, is not a guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong. It’s hard to get two creatures that have a natural predator-prey relationship to really get along at all times. This is why it’s import to take precautions throughout their lives.
Having a pointer puppy along with a kitten will be a little bit of a challenge, but it’s the best way to help create harmony. You’ll want to give your cat a little bit of room to get comfortable in the house before letting your puppy loose.
If the cat feels comfortable then it is less likely to run away quickly whenever the dog approaches. The trouble comes when cats (or other small animals) run away from the pointer because those fleeing movements trigger their instinct to chase.
Train Your Pointer
Let your kitten get used to the house for a couple of days.
Your puppy will also want to have some time to get used to the smell of your cat. This can be done by keeping the animals apart but in the same house. Let their smells become familiar to each other.
When it comes to introducing them, make sure to praise your puppy when it’s being calm. If your puppy gets a little too excited and rough, as pointer puppies are known to do, stand up with the kitten until they calm. If they don’t calm down, let the interaction be done for the day.
It’s important to remember that pointer puppies will always be larger and stronger than their cat counterparts at similar ages. Pointers are lean and muscled and have tons of energy that knocks their bodies around.
If the play becomes to rough between the cat and pointer, give a stop command and remove them from each other. It’s important to be as consistent with this training as you would for any other training in your pointer’s life such as house training.
Once they’ve been introduced and are comfortable around each other, you should make sure to keep an eye on them to make sure nothing gets out of hand. Slowly, your puppy will start to learn the rules of interacting with the cat.
These lessons are learned the best when they start really young because it is integrated into their lives from very early on. They will be able to understand boundaries and accept these cats as apart of their lives.
Pointers are very susceptible to teaching and will learn what’s expected of them quickly.
Tip: Make a Cat-Specific Area
Some people have found it very effective to have a cat-specific area of the house where the pointer is not allowed to go.
This may be a room where the cat’s bed is in or any small area that your dog isn’t allowed. One woman wouldn’t allow her pointer on the carpets, but her cat was allowed. This gave the cat a place to escape to if things got to be too much.
This can help things not escalate too quickly. You don’t want the play to turn into a predator mode. Having a safe place can also help your cat feel safe to interact with the dog without fear.
Keep an eye on them if your pointer starts to point or stalk the cat. You probably also want to intervene when the play becomes a little too rough. Your cat will most likely try to get away by retreating to the safe zone, but you have to make sure your dog respects those boundaries.
Train Your Cat
While I’m advocating for the cat’s safety, it is important to be an advocate for your dog. Cats can be rough and have sharp claws. If play gets too rough it may also mean that your pointer will end up with a claw in the face. Just make sure to monitor playtime.
Dogs are significantly easier to train than cats are on obedience. A lot of responsibility to behave is given to the pointer because they are so intelligent, bigger than the cat, and more eager to please.
They will listen and obey through consistency and a desire to please you. Cats aren’t usually as eager to please.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats with Pointers
This may seem a little strange to discuss the differences between how pointers regard outdoor versus indoor cats, but there is a distinction in their minds.
Pointers can be trained on where, how, and when to interact with their indoor feline companions; however, when they step outside the house, all cats roaming free are fair game.
Understanding what parts of the house are off limits, learning how to interact with the cat, and other indoor training doesn’t carry the same effect when your pointer leaves those surroundings.
The great outdoors is their hunting territory. If a cat is fleeing from them outside, then all cat training usually goes out the window.
An indoor cat usually is so used to the pointer that they never run away. They will ignore and fight back, but pointers don’t usually have too much problem with a known cat that doesn’t pay them any mind.
It’s when they start running that chasing suddenly become the preferred method of play.
Many people have told stories about outside cats that ignore pointers and there is no trouble. Others tell stories of pointers chasing after anything that moves. Your pointer’s reaction to outdoor and indoor cats will all depend on your individual dog, their personality, and training.
House Pets to Avoid with a Pointer
Cats aren’t usually recommended for houses with pointers, but that doesn’t mean that harmony cannot be achieved between the species. I think it’s important to specify other house pets that may not be as agreeable when sharing a house with a pointer.
Cats are an animal that pointers find particularly fascinating as prey, but they can be trained to resist temptation. Pointers aren’t usually out in the hunting field pointing out cats for their owners.
They naturally point hares and birds, mostly. This means that you should probably be a lot more cautious if you have a bird in your home. Birds excite pointers more than anything else.
They are trained to follow their scent and retrieve them when they fall. This is an instinct that is so deeply ingrained that caution should be exercised. Whereas cats can live together in harmony with a pointer with some training.
Birds are usually always going to be at the top of your pointer’s hit list. They aren’t trying to be aggressive, but the bird will seem like an exciting toy or bit of prey that they need to get. It’s a lot harder, and almost impossible, to have a pet bird and pointer live together in harmony.
So: choice between a bird and a cat with your pointer? Go with the cat.