Thanks to the actions of people like Michael Vick, pit bulls have an unwarranted reputation as vicious villains. This puts many people off the breed, especially those with other pets. But with proper training, this gentle “nanny dog” will make the perfect roommate for any cat.
Pit bulls are strong, powerful and brave terriers. This makes them appealing to the sort of people who have no business owning dogs at all. They are not inherently vicious or aggressive. The classic pit bull is calm, watchful and, if provoked, courageous in his defense of home and family. Despite their reputation as dangerous, a well-trained pit bull is a fantastic family pet. They’re great with kids and other animals. All dogs require guidance on how to behave around other animals and your pit bull is no different. His eagerness to please his human, another trait that makes him appealing to unsuitable owners, means you can easily train him to live harmoniously with a cat.
Like most terriers, pit bulls do have a strong prey drive and an instinctive love of chasing. If left unchecked, this behavior can be problematic for a cat. But all dogs have instincts that aren’t suited to the domestic environment, that’s why we train them. An untrained border collie will gladly nip and herd people if allowed to fully indulge his instincts. Early socialization is key to ensuring that your pit bull treats your cat as a roommate, rather than a plaything.
Gradual Introductions and Training
It’s not smart to give any dog unsupervised interaction with a cat at first. The trick is to make introductions fun, calm and manageable. Leash your pit bull and allow him to approach the cat. For as long as he is polite and passive, give him verbal praise. If he gets excited or tries to chase, a quick tug on the leash will keep him in check. Then all you need do is cease the verbal praise. This way he’ll learn that when he steps out of line with the cat, the positive stimulus of praise that he was enjoying gets taken away. Over time, he’ll learn that good things happen when he’s polite to the cat and good things are removed when he isn’t.
Escape Routes for the Cat
Once you’re confident that your cat and pit bull are getting along, you can allow them to mingle freely around the house. It’s essential to make sure your cat can always get away from the dog, so never shut them in a room together and, if possible, arrange furniture so every room has a quick exit route. A cat who feels trapped or simply can’t get away from the annoying affections of a dog may become aggressive or agitated. This can certainly lead to confrontation, so do everything you can to avoid it.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.