In general, the Chihuahua is known for being very well behaved around cats. In some households, a Chi and a cat can become best friends, seeing one another as a peer. Depending on their respective ages, one can become very protective of the other. The household will be harmonious, playful at times, and relatively peaceful.
With this being said, with the Chihuahua being the absolute smallest toy breed dog in the world and some cats weighing in at 3 times the weight of a Chi, the question of whether a cat and a Chihuahua can live together under one roof is one not to be taken lightly.
Both dogs and cats have a natural animal instinct to protect the territory and they can and do attack other pets for a couple of reasons:
- To establish who is “boss” of the home
- If they feel threatened by the other animal
Testing for Tolerance
If you wish to see if your Chihuahua can get along with a cat or vise-versa, the best thing to do is test their interaction. While it most likely will be that the dog does not tolerate the cat, in the case of a Chihuahua, care must be taken. Since many cats are quite larger than this breed, even if a dog begins a fight, the cat may end it.
Cats are able to leap down on a Chihuahua from above and this can cause great injury to the dog. In addition, the cat’s claws can cause severe injury to a dog that has little protection in way of the coat.
Before creating a multi-pet household, you’ll want to see if two types of pets will get along. Whether you have a Chihuahua or a feline, do you best to find a friend who can bring over the type of animal that you wish to use to test the interaction.
For example, if you have a cat and wish to add a Chihuahua to your family, try to find a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker who would be willing to bring their dog over for an experiment. Stress the fact that this will be 100% controlled and no danger will come to either animal.
When you have the two animals in the same room, your behavior must be calm and casual. If you tense up, sit and stare to watch what happens with great intensity and are worried and anxious, a Chihuahua can pick up on those feelings. You do not want your actions to silently be telling a dog that something is wrong or that danger is imminent.
Keep the dog on its leash and allow the two pets to become aware of each other’s existence. If they do not seem aware of each other at all, you should take this as a good sign. This will mean that each animal does not see the other as a threat or potential enemy.
After several tests, if this is the result, most likely you can mix a Chihuahua and a cat into the family. At worst, they will ignore each other. At best, after some time in the same household, the Chihuahua and the cat can get along and actually end up becoming best friends.
Some will sleep together (sometimes on top of each other), chase each other around in play and even sit at a window ‘guarding’ the house as a team.
In some cases, an older cat will play ‘mom’ to a younger litter of puppies.
If the dog is not going to tolerate a cat, there are clear cut warning signals that will happen before a physical confrontation will occur:
- The dog stares at the cat: This is the signal that you must keep the leash short and be ready to spring into action. When the Chihuahua stares at the cat, he is showing that he is very aware of the feline.
- The dog stares at the cat and is very quiet: Normally, one may assume that barking would indicate a problem. Not in this case! If the dog stares and is very silent, this is a strong signal that he is preparing to fight.
- The dog stares do not make a noise and lower his body into a “ready” position: If this occurs, separate the animals immediately. Most likely this dog will never get along with a cat.
Safety Precautions When Having Both a Chihuahua and a Cat
Here are a few tips that can help create and maintain a peaceful household with both a Chihuahua and a cat:
1) The two should be fed separately. Territorial problems can arise if not. Also, cat and dog food have different levels of fat and other nutrients.
While a few nibbles of cat food will not be harmful to a Chihuahua, you will not want your dog to eat cat food on any sort of a regular basis.
2) The Chihuahua must not be able to reach the litter box, as the dog will eat the bowel droppings and this can lead to serious health issues. Since cats are more nimble than dogs, try to place the litter box in a spot that the dog cannot reach.
3) Give both pets the same amount of attention; it is certainly true that both dogs and cats have strong emotions and can become destructive if they are feeling neglected.
4) Age will be a factor – A senior pet may have a low tolerance level for hyper puppies.
5) Keep a close eye on things if you have a teething puppy, he may nip at another pet or take over the cat’s toys, which may not be appreciated.
6) If you cannot trust the two to get along & there is a possibility of harm, keep them physically separated; especially when you need to leave the house.