While it's risky to introduce an adult border terrier to a cat, border terrier puppies can quickly adapt to life with a feline buddy. Providing obedience training, plenty of exercise and abundant love will help you establish the foundation for a lifelong friendship between a border terrier and a cat.
Because border terriers were bred to hunt foxes and vermin, they have an irresistible impulse to chase anything small that runs -- including cats and other animals -- whether or not they’re your pets. Border Terrier Rescue strongly advises against introducing an adult dog of this breed into a home with kitties. If a puppy grows up with a cat from an early age, however, the two species usually get along well throughout their lives.
Your Puppy and Your Cat
As puppies, border terriers are easily conditioned to learn to live with cats. The ideal situation is to being the puppy into a home where the cat already lives. While the pup explores his new surroundings, the kitty can retreat to her favorite hiding place or observation post to check out the little guy. It’s important for you to closely supervise their interactions, especially at the beginning, so the puppy learns how to behave with the cat and vice versa.
Training Your Cat's Buddy
In addition to the typical puppy-on-puppy and puppy-on-inanimate-object chewing, young border terriers tend to want to gnaw and nip people and other animals. Training your little guy to keep his teeth off the kitty will keep peace in your home. A firm but kind rebuke, coupled with clapping your hands or spraying him with water, should teach your pup to be gentle with the cat -- as well as your cows! Fortunately, border terriers pick up commands easily, especially if you train with consistency and kindness. Your pup will be much more likely to respond to rewards such as praise, treats and hugs than to punishment or scolding.
Border Terriers and Feline Strangers
No matter how well your border terrier gets along with your kitty, you can’t ever trust him around cats he hasn't grown up around. As a puppy he probably isn’t much of a threat, but he’ll nevertheless forget everything you’ve taught him as soon as he spots anything he can consider prey. Never let him run off-leash, because he’ll focus only on the critter he’s chasing and disregard all else, including traffic. According to the Border Terrier Club of America, being hit by cars is a leading cause of death for these dogs.
As your border terrier gets older, he can become more dangerous to cats. Even if he’s best buddies with your kitty, he might hurt or kill cats that venture into your yard. Border terriers also love digging, so make sure your yard is escape-proof -- otherwise he might take off after the neighbor’s cat or whatever else scoots by on the other side of your fence.