I have owned a Staffy now for over 10 years. Aside from my allergies I have never owned a cat, but over the past decade we have encountered many. I could give anecdotal accounts about her behavior around cats, but all Staffies can be different. I want to give both the good and the bad about Staffies and cats.
Do Staffies get along with cats? As a general rule Staffies raised in the same household as a cat can get along well. That being said, Staffies can have a very high prey drive. Cats outside the family unit could be at risk. This will vary from dog to dog and is not a unique characteristic of Staffies.
My Staffy and I have met plenty of cats over the years. From friends that have us over for a visit, to outside cats we have met in the street. My Staffy has always been curious, but cautious around cats. She is not looking to attack or chase them.
Other Staffies however will see the cat on the street, in the yard, or in another household as prey. This will result in a chase, and in some unfortunate cases attacks. There are many factors at play. How your Staffy is raised, trained, and socialized are among the leading variables to whether they are good or bad with cats.
Let’s dig in a little deeper and understand the relationship between cats and Staffies, and ways to help build better relationships between the two.
Are Staffies Good Or Bad With Cats?
Staffies as a whole can be both good or bad with cats depending on their upbringing. Well socialized Staffies can be good with cats. Staffies that have too high a prey drive can be bad with cats. The general consensus seems to be that Staffies raised with cats fare much better than Staffies who are not.
I know that my Staffy, even though she was raised without a cat in the home, is friendly and curious with cats. To better understand this myself I reached out to a Facebook audience of Staffy owners from all over the place to see what their experience has been.
The poll brought in over 300 responses to 4 basic options to the question “How is your Staffy with cats?” These are the results of that poll.
- My Staffy lives peacefully with a cat(s) – 140 people
- My Staffy doesn’t live with a cat, and will chase and attack any cat it sees – 107 people
- My Staffy doesn’t live with a cat and gets along fine. – 47 people
- My Staffy lives with a cat(s) but can’t be trust alone with them – 4 people
I should add that a number of people added their own variation of the response to the question. Some of these questions had additional votes so are worth mentioning as well.
- Staffy lives with cats they grew up with, but will chase any other cats – 13 people
- Staffy doesn’t live with cats and is scared of them – 8 people
- My staffie lives with cats, took a while but can now be on the sofa together even if they aren’t besties yet! – 7 people
Based purely on this sampling of around 300 Staffy owners there are a few conclusions that can be drawn.
- Staffies raised in the same home get along or tolerate cats.
- Staffies not raised with cats in the home have a higher likelihood of aggression towards cats.
- Some Staffies raised without cats can be friendly, indifferent or even scared of cats outside the home.
- Rare cases of Staffies raised with cats in the home showing aggression.
Obviously every dog is different. Staffies are not a unique breed when it comes to being good or bad with cats. Any dog with a small amount of prey drive or intolerance towards other animals can show aggression towards cats.
When I first introduced my Staffy to a cat I was cautious. Even though she was a 4 month old puppy I wanted to make sure the interaction was a positive one. This early introduction prevented any problems for future encounters as she got older. This is an important part of a Staffy’s socialization.
Not introducing a Staffy to cats from an early age can result in problems down the road. The dog can view the cat as prey, or at least some entertainment in chasing, and result in injury to one or both animals. Or even worse in some cases.
Do Staffies Kill Cats?
There are cases where Staffies unfortunately do kill cats. Staffies as a whole are not prone to kill cats because of the breed, but because of the natural high prey drive some dogs possess. Many Staffies live peacefully alongside cats in countless homes, but the reality is some dogs can and have killed cats.
Training, socialization, and environment all play critical roles in the likelihood of a Staffy attacking and potentially killing a cat. As shown above in the data collected on Staffies living with cats, the majority lived alongside their feline friends peacefully. Where problems arose was from Staffies not raised with cats.
There are a few steps you can take whether you have a cat in the home or not. My experience with my Staffy involved cats that were mainly outdoor cats we met on our walks. Training and socializing her from a young age has removed any worry from my mind when it comes to her interacting with cats.
How Do You Introduce A Staffy To A Cat?
When you introduce a Staffy to a cat as a general rule the process should be done slowly and with caution. Making introductions for the first time should be done in a controlled manner that allows you the owner to step in and end the interaction as soon as it is needed.
In the situation where you have a cat in your home already and are bringing a Staffy home there are a few steps to follow. Whether your Staffy is an adult or a puppy it is important to make this introduction slowly and with the safety of your cat as a top priority.
Step 1: Provide your cat with a safe space
Set aside a room with access to food, water, litter box, etc…that is sectioned off with a baby gate with a small pet door. This will give your cat a place to comfortably stay for the time being, as well as a place to go when introductions are made.
Step 2: Bringing the dog home.
Once in the home it is best to keep the cat and your Staffy separate for a day or two. This gives them both a chance to become aware of each other through scent and sound. The time spent in different areas of the home and out of sight will be a gentle and gradual adaptation for both animals. Meeting too soon face to face can be a recipe for bad first meetings.
Step 3: Teaching your Staffy to focus on you.
At this point your dog will be interested in where this cat stays. They may bark, paw, or just obsess over the room where you cat is staying. This is when you start to teach your dog to focus on you, and ignore the cat. Learning the “look” or “focus” command is top priority in this stage.
Redirection with treats, toys and lots of positive reinforcement is the key to this training. Teach your dog that ignoring the cat and focusing on you is way more fun and interesting. This will become very helpful in the future when both pets are able to interact.
Step 4: Meeting each other for the first time.
This should take place with a baby gate separating the two pets. This allows further scent recognition and now a visual in a safe and controlled manner. Keep a loose leash on the dog for extra safety and control. Don’t yank or give hard corrections, we are looking to make this a positive experience. If your Staffy is too hyped up, simple close the door and end that meeting session.
This first meeting can be a few seconds or a minute. Slowly do this over time. Whether it takes a few days or a week, take your time to get your pets accustomed to each other and interact with the baby gate between them. The goal is to get your dog used to the cat and still gain their focus on cue.
Step 5: Let your cat dictate the interaction outside the room.
Next it is time to open things up so that your cat can come and go through the baby gate when they feel comfortable. Do not force interactions. Allow your cat to come out when they feel safe.
Once your cat does decide to come in the same room as the dog make sure the dog is not rushing to play or chase the cat. Have your dog focus on you and ignore the cat as much as possible. Keep the baby gate up in case your cat wants to retreat or your Staffy does give chase.
If the first interaction goes bad, which it can, that’s okay. Head back to step 1 and repeat the process. Eventually your dog will learn that they need to give the cat space, ignore them, and not chase. This may take some time, but with a calm, consistent and patient approach it is achievable.
All dogs are different. Some Staffies may adapt to their cat roommate very quickly and they will become best of friends in no time. Other times it may take several weeks to get everyone accustomed to each other and have safe interactions. There is no time limit on this process. Slow and steady is the only approach.
As the poll conduct suggests, a Staffy and a cat can peacefully coexist in the same household. Following some basics to the first meeting and interaction will ensure an easier transition for both animals.
Staffies can have aggressive or prey driven instincts to chase cats when they have not been properly trained or socialized with cats. This can be addressed even when you don’t own a cat yourself. Like myself, I worked with my Staffy to calmly and safely meet cats from a young age, and now she is very reliable around any cat.
Consulting a professional trainer is always recommended if you are struggling. Ask an expert to access your specific situation and make more customized suggestions and techniques.