Many border collies get along well with the cats in their homes, but others have such strong herding instincts that they aren’t trustworthy around cats. To increase your chances of a happy multi-species household, make sure your individual animals' temperaments and personalities are compatible.
Border collies, bred to herd sheep, are genetically wired to herd anything that moves, including cats. While some collies have a lower herding drive than others, yours could easily decide that herding and supervising the cat is her job. She might follow the kitty around your house, try to guide him into or keep him out of certain areas, chase him and always keep him in her sight. When they herd sheep, border collies first use eye contact, then bark and finally, if necessary, use their teeth. Your pup might show these same behaviors with the cat, so supervise their play and intervene before the biting stage.
If your cat prefers to be left alone, dislikes excessive attention and shows low tolerance for other animals, he probably won’t be a good companion for a border collie. On the other hand, a playful kitty who enjoys being chased and trying to outsmart an opponent could be a perfect playmate. Border collies have abundant physical and mental energy, so they need challenges and jobs. If your cat and your border collie get along, and your cat likes mischievous fun, they can often have a stimulating time together.
Border collies need both physical and mental challenges -- agility courses, training, games of fetch and regular walks or runs. A border collie that’s ignored or left on her own too much can become destructive -- to your house and to your cat. You'll increase the chances for everyone's happiness if you make sure the pup receives the stimulation she needs.
Adding a Border Collie to a Home With a Cat
If you already have a cat, consider adopting an adult border collie from a rescue or shelter that does cat-testing. Some border collies do present a danger to cats -- either because they haven’t been socialized or because their herding and prey drives are so strong -- so you have to choose one carefully. While you can teach a puppy to obey commands, you can't train the herding instinct out of him. You’ll be happier if you know your new family member will get along with the kitty.
Adding a Cat to a Home With a Border Collie
If you already have a border collie and you're thinking about adding a cat to the nest, test your dog first to find out if she'll be a predator or a playmate. Talk to your vet or an animal behaviorist about how to conduct the test and keep the animals safe. If your collie turns out to be cat-friendly, think about getting a kitten rather than an adult cat. Kittens often are more playful and energetic -- qualities the border collie will appreciate -- and less leery than adult cats. Of course, they're also smaller and more fragile, so make sure the play doesn't get rambunctious.