While prepping to move in my roommate got a kitten, sparking the question. How will my Shiba Inu do around a cat or kitten?
Most Shiba Inus can get along with cats, but it won’t happen over night. It’s best to slowly introduce your cat and Shiba Inu to each other over several days in short controlled sessions so you can monitor them. For the best results you want to start while they are still young.
After doing some research and getting a baseline plan in place I decided to move forward with it and see how it’d work. Here are the results I had, along with follow up questions I looked into.
How Shiba Inus See Cats
Shiba Inus were breed to be hunting dogs, so they naturally see smaller fast moving animals as prey. While cats are generally small and fast moving they aren’t a normal “prey” for Shiba’s. But that doesn’t mean they are safe.
A Shiba Inu will, without a doubt, chase your cat around the house in the beginning, but with enough time and training you can stop most of it.
There are 5 major factors in understanding if your Shiba Inu and cat will get along:
Shiba Inus are both stubborn and intelligent, but they can also be assertive and dominate. Making them significantly more likely to try bulling a cat during their first several weeks or months together.
But it’s not just the Shiba’s personality you need to keep in mind, your cat’s personality matters just as much. A laid back cat that’s been around other pets may warm up to your Shiba Inu faster than a more dominate cat. Generally speaking, the more sociable and friendly the two are then “faster” they may get along.
Socialization and social skills are just as important for us as our pets, and your cat and Shiba Inu’s skills will be put to the test here. Knowing how they act around other people and pets can give you a rough idea of how things may go.
But don’t hand your hat on it. It’s good to know if your Shiba Inu warms up to strangers or plays gently, but your cat is a factor here too. Take things slow even if your cat has been good around other dogs, Shiba Inus have a high prey drive and can be quite assertive and dominate, where other pets may not have been.
While people don’t really “train” cats, you will want some basic training under your belt with your Shiba Inu. Treats, a short leash, and a couple common commands like “no” or “sit” will be extremely helpful.
We aren’t looking to hastily build a friendship between these too, just like with training your dog, it’ll take time and consistent effort. Take it one step at a time and don’t rush or over trust anything. Introduction steps listed further down.
When You Start Makes A Big Difference
While some cats or kittens may have been around dogs, not every one has. So there is no way of knowing how they’ll respond and interact with each other. And the same can be said about Shiba Inus.
Not every Shiba Inu has been around a cat or a kitten either as a puppy or growing up. So you may have no idea how the two of them will respond to each other. While short yet consistent interactions at the beginning will be vital for building a foundation, their ages play a role.
Puppies and kittens are more open to new things and situations compared to adults. Now, that doesn’t mean an adult cat or Shiba Inu will never get along, or that you HAVE TO do this when they are young, it makes things easier because neither of them have habits to fall back into. They both learn how to play and interacted with each other from a blank slate.
It’s Not For Everyone
Not every cat will get along with dogs or other pets, and the same is true for Shiba Inus. Some will get along quickly and become close friends, while others that are more aggressive or have a stronger prey drive may never see them as anything other than a toy.
You need to take things slow, steady, and really pay attention. Hopefully things work out, but if they don’t after several attempts, you may need to change your approach or unfortunately drop it all together.
How To Introduce A Shiba Inu To A Cat
Slow and steady wins the race, and the same is true for this situation.
Short, steady, and controlled introductions between your Shiba Inu and cat slowly over time will give them a chance to interact and build a bond together.
Here are some steps you can take to set them up for success:
1) Give them something to smell alone
Both cat’s and dog’s use their noses to interact and learn about things in their environment. Let your cat smell something your Shiba uses, maybe their favorite toy, and do the same for your Shiba Inu. Let them investigate your cat’s favorite spot, blanket, or pillow.
2) Prepare a meeting space
Clear out an open space that has places your cat can reach but your Shiba Inu can’t. It could be a table, under the couch, or really anything. Just make sure there are some “escape routes”. An open distraction free environment let’s the two of them focus on each other, for now.
3) Play into your Shiba’s interests
If your Shiba Inu has a ball, rope, stuffed animal, or chew toy they’ll sit down all day gnawing on, grab it. You can use it to get your Shiba’s attention when things get a bit out of hand. Hopefully in an “over excited” kind of way
4) Keep your Shiba Inu on a short leash
You don’t want them chasing your cat during these introduction meetings.
5) Let your cat can run and hide
Stress is bad for everybody, pets included. Avoid over stressing your cat by giving them room to breath safely and walk over at their own pace.
The only way to manage or prevent and potential issues or aggression is be paying close attention. Put your phone away and pause your music so you can watch and listen to what they are doing. If your Shiba starts to get worked up pull them closer to you and have them sit, both with a command and gently pushing their butt onto the ground.
6.1) How to manage signs of aggression
Aggression from a cat starting out, like hissing or pawing, is to be expected. But aggression from your Shiba should be noted and dealt with swiftly. Your cat is welcome to leave or defend itself but it’s the opposite for your dog. You can read more on signs of Shiba Inu aggression and how to manage them here.
6.2) How to manage over excitement
While and excited Shiba Inu is better than an aggressive one, both are over whelming during an introduction. Shiba Inu excitement comes in many shapes and sizes, if you are struggling with over excitement you should read our other post here going into more detail on it.
7) When to end their meeting
If either pet get’s overly aggressive or excited you should cut the meeting short to give both of them a break. Make sure they are in separate rooms locked away from each other.
8) What to do next
There are you ways you can schedule their next “meeting”, both depend on how well the last one did:
- If they did well another short session the next day works.
- if things did not go well, skip a day then try again. It gives everyone a chance to calm down.
9) What to do if things aren’t going well
This step really depends on what exactly is going on, here are some examples:
- A Shiba Inu that keeps trying to play with, and scares your cat, may need a long walk or quick jog to burn off that excess energy they have.
- A cat that does nothing but hide from you and your Shiba Inu may just not like dogs or may have been traumatized before.
- A Shiba Inu that keeps biting, growling, or chasing your cat may not see them as anything other than a toy or play. Making an effort to socialize your Shiba will help with that, but may not solve the problem entirely.
You will need to take a step back after going through these steps each time and really be honest with yourself. If things are going well, fantastic! But if they aren’t, your Shiba Inu may need some extra training and social interactions, or may be too high energy for your cat.
All of them are possibilities.
Slow and steady sets you guys up for the best chance of a healthy relationship between them. The same notes and steps above work for 1 cat and 1 Shiba Inu or multiple of both, you’ll just need to plan and respond accordingly.