Shih Tzus Living With Cats: 7 Ways To Help Them Get Along


Do you have a multi-pet household? Do some of those pets include the feline variety? You may be wondering if you are considering a Shih Tzu if this ancient breed can get along well with a cat. The short answer is, yes, these two can co-exist happily and some even form strong friendships!

The Shih Tzu is a Friendly Dog

One reason that cats and Shih Tzus can get along is that this dog has a very sweet and friendly temperament. Some of the top traits of the dog are that they are happy and are known to get along well with people of all ages as well as all types of animals. The shih tzu’s small stature and lack of active energy and hunting instincts also makes it less intimidating and annoying to cats.

The shih tzu breed is known as easy-going and does well with novice owners. Because it is such a friendly, steady dog, they do not mind other animals.

Shih Tzu Have a Low Prey Drive

The original purpose of these elegant looking dogs is that they were often owned by royalty and were frequent companions of Tibetan monks. These dogs are extremely affectionate to their owners and to those he or she loves.

Shih tzus are not aggressive and are alert without being nippy or possessive. Because they were bred to be companion dogs (see my other article here for more), they do not see smaller animals as prey, making them ideal to get along with cats. They are also very similar in size to most average housecats, making the more likely to see the cat as a pack member.

How Would a Shih Tzu React to a Cat in the Home?

The best piece of advice would be to introduce your dog to a cat ahead of time. It would be good for the dog to meet a new cat in neutral territory instead of his or her home.

Statistically speaking, 21% of those owners that had both a Shih Tzu and cat responded that the dog was excellent with the cat.

All Things Shih Tzu

The best way to introduce a cat and dog is to have the dog on a harness and leash and to make sure the cat has an escape route and does not feel cornered.

You can allow the dog to gentle sniff around the cat (the cat might not like actually being sniffed). The cat may growl or hiss at first, and you should ignore this. If the dog is sniffing the cat or around the cat, this is a good sign. It is also okay if they ignore each other.

How to Help a Shih Tzu and Cat Live Together

The best idea is to allow the cat to have his or her own space away from the Shih Tzu. This could be putting something on the door, so the cat can enter but not the dog. It would be wise to put the litterbox in this room away from the dog.

The owner should keep cat and dog food separate and out of reach of the dog. The cat and dog should be fed separately, and the cat may need to eat in a room with the door closed so the dog does not bother him or her. Do not allow the dog to chase the cat or bother him or her when they are eating.

If the cat has his or her own space, you can also create this space for a dog. At first, it might be best to either keep your dog in a crate or in a smaller space. This way they can have time to rest and anxiety does not develop.

As a pet owner you should make separate time to give affection and play with the cat and the dog, so jealousy does not develop. Teach the dog to ignore the cat when he or she leaves the room and not chase or try to initiate play.

How Can I Help My Shih Tzu and Cat Bond?

Once a dog and cat have been introduced to each other, is there anything a pet owner can do to help them bond and like one another? The short answer is yes, there is.

First of all, training your dog in basic obedience is helpful. How so? Take the sit command. A dog that knows this command can be taught to “sit” if he or she becomes too interested in a cat’s movements.

Another useful command is the “leave it” command where a dog it taught to leave a certain object to get a more suitable object. This can help if the dog picks up one of the cat’s toys and the owner can teach them to “leave it.”

The owner making sure that the dog has adequate exercise can go a long way towards keeping peace and harmony within the house. A tired dog is less likely to chase a cat out of boredom. Owners may consider adopting an older dog that has already been exposed or raised with cats rather than a puppy.

Should I Get a Shih Tzu Puppy and a Kitten?

One solution that has been suggested is that the owner get a puppy and a kitten at the same time. I would not recommend this as raising just one either a puppy or a kitten is exhausting. Yes, they are exposed to each other from a young age, but it can be exhausting for the owner.

The more practical solution is if you have an adult cat, consider a Shih Tzu puppy. If you have an adult dog, consider a kitten. Many dogs in rescues are tested with cats, so this is another avenue pet owner can examine.

Shih Tzu’s tend to do well with cats as a general rule. They are sweet dogs and are respectful of the space of other animals. Shih Tzu’s are not overly active dogs, so they should respect a cat’s space, and many become good friends, even seeing the cat groom the dog!

The Verdict

The verdict is that Shih Tzus and cats will usually be able to live in the same household peacefully. The personality and size of the Shih Tzu make him or her a good candidate to live with other animals.

The pet owner will need to be sure the cat has his or her own space for the litterbox and feeding as well as a safe area for the cat. The dog should be trained in basic obedience and taught to respect the cat’s boundaries. The owner needs to be sure to pay separate attention to the cat and the dog to head off jealousy.

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