Are Jack Russell Terriers Good With Cats?

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jack russell and cats
Image via Flickr: Les Chatfield

We get asked the question a lot “are Jack Russells good with cats?” The quick answer to this is “No. Not really”. Although every dog is unique and there will be cases where a Jack Russell will live very happily with a cat, generally speaking Jack Russell terriers are not good with cats.

Jack Russells have a very high prey drive. Jack Russell Terrier were bred to hunt. It’s instinctively in them to hunt out small prey such as cats, birds, rabbits, mice, rats, gerbils, etc. So it’s not their fault that pose a real risk to cats, its just natural for them and it is possible that the JRT will do serious harm to the cat or god forbid, even kill it. They can also become harmed themselves as cats can be quite vicious.

Introducing a Jack Russell and a cat

If you do want to introduce a cat to your Jack Russell then here are a few tips that may help.

  1. Introducing them to each other nice and slowly is the key here. Introducing a cat and Jack Russell slowly, in a stress free way, will increase the chances of success.
  2. Make sure there is a safe place for the cat to go if he needs it. In case things turn north and your Jack Russell starts chasing the cat, or even if the cat just feels uncomfortable then it is a good idea to have some safe, high places, the cat can go. Some where the JRT can’t reach of course!
  3. Use positive reinforcement and some high-end treats to reward good behaviour. If there are some positive and friendly behavior then give them a treat each as a reward to promote positive behaviour.
  4. Don’t use harsh or severe punishment if there is an altercation. If you are too firm and severe then your Jack Russell may associate the cat with a negative association, which is the opposite affect you want, when you are trying to get them to be friends.