Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
Perhaps you’re a cat owner thinking about adding a Poodle to your family or vice versa.
Then, of course, there’s always the worry about how both pets would get along.
It’s never an easy process, but you can help both animals overcome their initial interaction issues with the proper steps.
Poodles are good with cats and get along with them better than other less cat-friendly breeds. Their mellow, fun, and loving personalities make them great companions for kitties, dogs, and other pets. However, there can be isolated situations where Poodles may be scared of cats.
In this article, using my experience in veterinary medicine, I’ll explore the typical behaviors of Poodles towards new cats and practical steps you can adopt to socialize both pets to build harmony in the household.
Are Poodles Naturally Aggressive or Friendly Towards Cats?
Poodles are naturally friendly towards cats. Their playful temperament means that they can coexist in the same space with other household pets.
Poodles may seem shy when introduced to cats, but they soon get over this shyness and become best friends with cats.
However, many factors can determine the level of friendliness that a Poodle would show to a cat.
Some common factors include:
- The cat’s personality
- The steps you take to integrate them at the beginning
- Their puppyhood experience.
That said, Poodles are also very intelligent and can sometimes be stubborn, exhibiting a mind of their own.
Unfortunately, this trait can get them into trouble with your cat.
How Territorial Are Cats?
Like many other species of animals, cats often strive to keep their territory safe. Both male and female cats are generally territorial, although male cats seem to defend larger territories.
Therefore, cats would typically be aggressive to unexpected “invasions” of their territory.
This territorial aggression is generally directed towards other cats.
Still, they can also direct it towards dogs and humans in rarer scenarios.
Your cat can be territorially aggressive towards some pets and family members while maintaining its cool with others.
Therefore, it’s difficult to tell whether it’ll direct its territorial aggression towards a Poodle.
Cats mark their territory by spraying urine, rubbing their chin on an area, and patrolling. In addition, they may chase, ambush, or stalk an intruder, while displaying offensive body postures like hissing, growling, and swatting.
Some cats maintain a slow and steady approach while trying to scare an intruder out of their territory.
In contrast, others give an immediate and aggressive chase.
Depending on how well you socialize your cat, it can either perceive the entire house or a part of it as its territory.
How Territorial Are Poodles?
Poodles are generally protective of their territories. Therefore, they’ll exhibit territorial aggression towards people or animals that approach their property.
Generally, this aggression is targeted at people and animals that are unusual or less familiar to the Poodle.
Therefore, you can expect your Poodle to be aggressive towards your cat at the initial stage of introduction.
In other words, Poodles generally perceive something different about the sound, actions, and sight of the stimulus.
It’s this difference that causes their anxious or defensive response when initially introduced to other animals.
As expected, most of a Poodle’s territorial aggression occurs in their own environment.
Territorial aggressive behavior may include:
Using a leash or barricade to prevent your Poodle from protecting its territory could lead to aggressive behaviors.
I’m Already a Cat Parent, and I’m Thinking of Getting a Poodle
Getting a Poodle for the first time is a big challenge and a big adventure for most cat parents.
But remember, getting an additional pet is a long-term commitment.
Depending on specific circumstances, you could own both pets for many years. Therefore, there are a few things worth considering.
The decision to add a Poodle to your family shouldn’t be impulsive.
Often, when cat owners suddenly bring a Poodle puppy home, they find socializing both animals difficult.
Some factors to consider before introducing a Poodle to your cat include:
Make Sure You Want to Own Both Animals
Taking care of both pets isn’t always fun and games, as most people think. It can be expensive.
Most people don’t anticipate the energetic, noisy, and messy part of it.
You need to be sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment to each pet!
Yes, you may be crazy about Poodles, but playing with them is different from looking after them.
Remember that they’ll grow up into adult dogs and would naturally demand a lot of energy and attention from you.
Do Proper Research First
Do proper research before choosing. You need to figure out what you want precisely before adding a Poodle to your cat-only household.
Study every piece of information about Poodles that can sway you one way or the other.
This is the point where you should figure out whether it’ll be easier to get a puppy or an adult.
Puppies are generally cute and fun, but their excess energy may make initial socialization with your cat a little tricky.
If you have limited time and energy to socialize with both animals, maybe it’ll be best to opt for an adult Poodle.
Adult Poodles are generally easier to maintain, although they can still have some habits that may need fixing.
Fortunately, Poodles are mostly house-trained, so their energy level is usually lower when they’re older.
How To Introduce a New Poodle Puppy to My Kitten
Poodle puppies are typically excitable and boisterous, making it difficult to introduce them to other young animals.
Therefore, not handling the socialization process well can make the process stressful for your kitten.
Fortunately, you can ease the situation for both animals with the following tips:
- Take your puppy for a long walk before introducing them. Over time, puppy lovers have found that a tiring session of play or a long walk can make a puppy calmer when they meet new animals.
- Ensure that your kitten knows an easy route back to their ‘safe place’ before introducing the puppy to them. Then, they’ll feel more comfortable knowing that they’re just a few steps to their safe zone.
- Ensure you have treats available to reward your puppy for calm behavior around the kitten. Some prefer to begin by distracting them with food so the kitten can have a good look at them without too much attention. The Cesar Softies Dog Treats from Cesar Stores have soft and chewable nature, making them the perfect blend for every puppy Poodle. It also has fewer calories and more valuable ingredients to help your dog’s growth.
- Please don’t force it. Allow your kitten the liberty to approach the puppy in its own time.
- Keep their interactions short at the beginning. With time, their interactions can become longer and better. Don’t hesitate to stop this interaction if things start to get too much for either pet.
Some kittens may get aggressive as they come closer.
If your kitten shows any sign of aggressiveness, stop it from swiping at your puppy.
Hopefully, as time goes on, your kitten’s confidence will grow, and it’ll become more comfortable with the puppy’s company.
How To Introduce a New Poodle Puppy to My Adult Cat
Ideally, Poodle puppies will be crate trained, making it safer and easier to introduce them.
We recommend placing the crate away from your cat’s eating/drinking/sleeping/toileting area.
Prepare & Calm Your Puppy
Once you’re ready for the introduction, ensure that your puppy is at its calmest.
As explained earlier, most people prefer taking their puppies for a long walk to make them more relaxed before the meeting.
However, despite being adult cats, they can still be scared of puppies.
Therefore, we recommend using a room that your cat is familiar with or can escape to a safe area.
Offer Praise, Rewards, & Distractions
If you have your puppy in a crate, you can distract it with a treat or a toy while bringing the cat into the room.
However, remember how risky it is to force the interaction.
However, that doesn’t stop you from giving your cat enough attention.
Again, we recommend positive experiences like playing, grooming, or treats throughout the process.
This period should help the cat get familiar with the puppy’s presence and vice versa.
After a while, both pets will feel more relaxed and comfortable with each other’s presence.
At this point, you can put your puppy on a leash while letting it out of the crate.
You could jump directly to this step if you didn’t have a crate at first. Then, with your puppy on the leash, allow them to get closer.
Throughout this period, use treats, praise, and pats to reward calm behavior.
If possible, get a second person in the room to ensure that both pets receive their rewards and praises at the same time.
Know When to Call It a Day
Your puppy can become too excitable during the first few meetings.
If this ever happens, remove them from the room. Then, repeat the process several times per day until they get comfortable with each other.
However, make the meetings short to minimize the stress for both animals.
Remember to allow your cat to choose when to approach the puppy. It can become aggressive in rare scenarios.
If it does, take steps to protect your puppy from these behaviors. For example, use a safe inanimate object to block the cat from reaching the puppy.
Don’t rush things.
It typically takes time to get your puppy acquainted with your cat. However, it’s worth the stress.
Remember to supervise their interactions closely. While there would usually be hissing and other aggressive behavior in the first few weeks, they’ll generally settle down with time.
How To Introduce a New Adult Poodle to My Kitten
Introducing an adult Poodle to your kitten is easier than introducing a puppy because adult dogs are generally less boisterous.
However, there’s still work to do. Here are simple steps to make the process easier:
Keep Both Animals Separate
As usual, we suggest you avoid rushing to introduce your new Poodle to your kitten.
Instead, create a safe room for your kitten before bringing the Poodle home.
Occasionally, you can pet both animals to allow them to get used to each other’s scent on your hand.
Use a Closed Door or a Crate To Introduce Them
Even as adults, Poodles can still get excitable once in a while. Situations like this can stress the kitten and make the introduction difficult.
Most people use crates as a safe place to help them beat this tendency.
Keep your kitten in its crate for about a week until they become calm and ready for the introduction.
We also recommend doing the introduction at night when both animals are tired and less energetic.
Don’t allow physical contact until they get used to being together in the same room.
Also, don’t make the get-together too long. Otherwise, they might become exhausted.
Both animals would naturally get more comfortable with each other after sharing the same space for a while.
At this point, you should consider allowing them to meet outside the protection of bars.
Pat your Poodle on the head to discourage chasing your kitten.
Create an escape space for your kitten for moments when the dog’s presence may threaten it.
Deal With Ongoing Tension
If, after the introduction, your kitten is still uncomfortable with your Poodle’s presence, you should ensure that the kitten can access water, food, bed, and litter box without going too close to your dog.
How To Introduce a New Adult Poodle to My Adult Cat
Bringing a new Poodle to a home that already has an adult cat can create stress all around.
However, you can effectively minimize the stress and help your pets get along quickly through the following tips.
Prepare Your Cat for the New Arrival
Even cats that have lived with other animals may not like the idea of bringing a new pet into their territory.
The best way to deal with this is to maintain the level of attention you give to your cat even after getting the new dog home.
This way, you show them that the addition of a new pet wouldn’t threaten your affection for them.
Prepare a Room for Your Poodle
While trying to ensure the safety and comfort of your cat, you don’t want to overlook the dog’s comfort.
Therefore preparing a safe and comfortable space for your new arrival will make it feel at home.
Put water, food, and bed into the room and leave the dog to explore.
Introduce Them to Each Other’s Scent
As always, try to feed your dog and cat on either side of a door for a start.
This strategy helps both animals get used to each other’s scent before their face-to-face meet.
Allowing your Poodle to back, scratch, or whine behind the door can get your cat uncomfortable with their presence.
Introduce Them Face to Face
Once you’re ready to let both pets meet, get a leash for your Poodle and a box for your cat.
Restricting their movement means that they can see each other without necessarily having any physical contact.
Watch their reactions to be sure they’re comfortable around each other.
If any of them shows any sign of discomfort, we recommend starting the process afresh.
With time, you can gradually allow physical contact.
I Am Already a Poodle Parent, and I’m Thinking of Getting a Cat
You want to add a cat to your family, but you already have a dog that’s not so experienced with cats?
Well, there’s still hope of peacefully integrating a new cat into your home irrespective of the cat’s age or size.
However, you need to conduct the introduction in a way that creates a positive experience for both pets.
Unfortunately, most dogs tend to see other smaller animals as prey, so you’ll need to ensure that your Poodle doesn’t make this mistake when introducing a cat.
Don’t forget that the cat can also get aggressive and lash out in self-defense when it perceives a threat.
So here are some tips to help you socialize your new cat with an existing Poodle if the need ever arises:
How To Introduce a New Kitten to My Poodle Puppy
Like introducing two dogs or two cats, it’s hard to predict how a Poodle puppy and a kitten would react when they first meet.
Therefore, it’s important to maintain caution when introducing them.
- Find a safe space in your home that’s not too small for both animals. Both should have the opportunity to retreat to a safe distance whenever they feel threatened. Or, you can start the introduction by keeping both pets in a separate space. If this is an option you want to explore, you can try using a transparent barrier that allows both pets to maintain their distance while getting to know each other.
- Show affection and attention to your puppy and kitten. Allow each one to see you interacting happily and peacefully with you. This strategy helps them know that the other animal isn’t a threat to you and, by extension, them.
How To Introduce a New Kitten to My Adult Poodle
- Start early. The process starts long before you buy a kitten. The goal is to get your dog “fur-miliar” with the kitten before bringing it home. An excellent way to do this is through scent. We recommend leaving a blanket with the kitten. Breeders would typically allow you to do this since they understand what’s at stake. Bring the blanket home days before bringing the kitten, and let your dog get familiar with the scent.
- Create a safe space for the kitten. We cannot overemphasize the need for a safe space for your kitten. Yes, Poodles are relatively calm, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get excitable at all. So you’ll be doing your new arrival good by preparing a secure place where they can rest and be comfortable while getting used to the new environment.
- Dog proof. It’s crucial to ensure that your kitten’s space has suitable materials. This step mainly keeps the cat safe from potential dog attacks when you are away from them.
- Encourage scent swapping. Truly, swapping scents works. Supervising a scent swap helps your dog and cat get to know each other before they meet. And it doesn’t take too long either.
- Let them meet. The firm swapping of scents and establishing safety zones prepare both pets for their first meeting. However, you still need to pay attention to proper supervision when they meet.
Different methods exist for introducing a Kitten to your dog.
Still, most people prefer keeping both animals on their leashes and slowly trying to let them discover each other’s scent.
How To Introduce a New Adult Cat to My Poodle Puppy
This is usually a difficult situation when you don’t follow the proper process.
The boisterous and often excitable nature of Poodle puppies can make cats anxious and quite anti-social.
Here are some tips to help you make the process simpler:
- Take your Poodle puppy for a long walk before letting them meet. The long walk would potentially get your puppy tired and calmer before meeting your new cat.
- Your puppy should be on a leash during the first meeting. The last thing you want is for your puppy to chase your cat on day one.
- Create an accessible route from the meeting point to your cat’s ‘safe place.’
- When possible, reward your puppy with treats for its calm behavior. Make it clear to them that you want them to feel relaxed throughout the process. You can also distract them with food while the cat takes a good look at them.
- Don’t force your cat. Instead, let it approach when it feels ready.
- The first few meetings should be kept short. Observe both pets and stop the interaction if any feels stressed at any point.
- Cats can also get aggressive. Watch out for this tendency and stop them from taking a swipe at the puppy.
Your pets would become more comfortable with each other after every session.
Therefore, you can keep increasing their interaction time with every visit.
How To Introduce a New Adult Cat to My Adult Poodle
Despite the stereotype, cats and Poodles can learn to live peacefully in the same space.
However, you have a huge role to play in the introduction phase.
There’s a need for patience and taking the process slowly. Here are helpful tips for introducing a new adult cat to your resident adult Poodle:
Create a Dog-Free Sanctuary
For starters, ensure to provide a dog-free sanctuary for the cat before bringing it in.
Size doesn’t matter as long as the space is dog-proof and includes the necessary equipment like a litter box, food bowl, water can, etc.
Experts recommend keeping the pets apart for at least 3-4 days while the new cat undergoes proper veterinary checks to certify that it is free from illnesses.
Feed Them Near Each Other
Feed them on the opposite sides of a door. The whole idea behind this step is to let them get used to the presence of each other.
Once both pets learn to eat their food next to the door without feeling uncomfortable, it’ll be time to get them to meet face-to-face.
Introduce Them in Neutral Territory (& Offer Rewards)
We recommend arranging the meeting in a common part of the house.
Keep the first few meetings as short and calm as possible.
Reward both pets with treats for calm behavior and calmly distract anyone that demonstrates aggressive behavior.
Give the Cat an Escape Route
Repeat the face-to-face interaction every day until both pets get entirely comfortable with the presence of each other.
If the cat feels uncomfortable at any time and wants to leave the room, don’t stop it from escaping and restrain the Poodle from going after it.
Can Cats and Poodles Be Left Alone Together?
Never leave your Poodle and cat alone together until you’re sure that they’re comfortable with each other.
Walking away while your pets are still learning to coexist can cause serious issues.
For instance, the Poodle or cat could be bitten or scratched.
Even in cases where they don’t suffer any serious physical injuries, leaving their initial interactions unsupervised could cause one of the animals severe trauma, making them forever terrified of other animals.
Indeed, it can take a little time for Poodles and cats to gel, but it’s worth the stress.
How To Facilitate a Successful Friendship
So far, we’ve established that cats and Poodles can be friends and live under the same roof.
However, you have a huge role to play in facilitating this friendship.
Here are valuable tips you can adopt to help your pets grow and love each other:
We’ve talked so much about safe introductions.
Both pets are relatively complex animals with unique emotional needs.
Therefore, wrong introductions can spoil the chances of both pets getting along well.
Younger animals would usually develop trust for each other more quickly.
So it’s essential to introduce them on time and help them build trust and confidence in each other using the steps highlighted above.
Depending on your Poodle’s attitude, you may need to incorporate some level of obedience training before and during the introduction phase.
For example, dogs generally have a strong chase instinct and may upset cats during the introduction period.
However, you don’t want your cat to be plagued by anxiety from the start, hence, the need for basic obedience training.
Teaching them commands like “sit,” “leave,” “leave it,” etc., would help you control them when the need arises.
Most pet owners make the significant mistake of assuming that one animal’s readiness to play would influence the other.
But, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
While playing together helps make the bonding process quicker, you must understand the need for both animals to be willing.
Start by observing the playful behavior of both animals over the first few weeks.
If you sense that one isn’t ready to play, try to end the interaction session carefully.
With time, the less playful animal will come around and enjoy the company of the other animal.
Signs Your Poodle Is Not Adapting Well to Their Feline Sibling (How To Intervene)
When introducing your Poodle to a cat, pay attention to the body language of both animals.
Of course, proper introductions would help them blend well, but there are still rare occasions where one animal would just not get along well with the other.
You’ll usually notice the signs early enough to take adequate actions.
I recommend separating the pets and starting afresh if you see any of these signs in your Poodle.
- Aggression. Aggressive Poodles will usually nibble or bite the cat during interaction sections. In return, the cat will scratch at it, and these acts could cause possible injuries for both animals. Therefore, it’s best to separate both animals when you notice aggressive behaviors and use treats to calm them down.
- It’s paying extra attention to you. Yes, we all want our pet’s attention, but it can be a sign that something is wrong when it begins to get too close. It could be the dog cuddling up too close to you or licking your face or hand to tell you that it doesn’t like the presence of the cat.
- Pushy behavior. This behavior often comes in the form of your Poodle limiting your cat from moving freely around the house. It can also come as your dog pushing itself into situations that will demand your attention more.
- Hissing, growling, or fighting. This behavior can especially be an issue when you give more attention to your cat. Poodles naturally become jealous and would want to fight their way back into getting your attention. If this is the case, check that you aren’t giving more attention to your cat at the expense of your Poodle. Try to balance the attention you give to both animals carefully.
Signs Your Cat Is Not Adapting Well to Their New Canine Sibling (How To Intervene)
As much as your Poodle may love your cat and enjoy playing with it, your cat won’t reciprocate this affection if it feels uncomfortable with the dog or dislikes it.
We spoke with several experts to find clear signs your cat isn’t getting along with your new Poodle.
It Keeps Hiding From the Dog
This is one of the most obvious signs. Remember that a hiding cat is an unhappy cat.
So, if you notice that your cat has developed a new habit of always hiding, it could be a sign that it’s not comfortable with the new addition.
This usually happens when the introduction phase is rushed or completely skipped.
Ensure your new Poodle isn’t bullying your cat, and take action to help your cat observe the Poodle better.
It Bites and Scratches
Cats typically show their displeasure by biting or scratching.
Therefore, if your cat has developed a habit of biting or scratching its new canine sibling, it’s a sign they aren’t getting along well.
Try to calm your cat down by providing rewards for good behavior.
Also, increasing the attention you give shows them that they’re not competing for your attention with the new addition.
They Hiss at the Dog
Most experts agree that hissing is a clear sign that a dog is bothered by a situation.
A grown-up cat hissing at a dog is a surefire sign that it isn’t comfortable or potentially threatened by the dog’s presence.
If it gets to be too much, try separating both animals to start the introduction phase afresh.
Be slower and more careful this time to ensure that they become comfortable with each other’s presence in the house.
Generally, cats and Poodles get along well, but you have a role to play.
Proper introductions would make both pets comfortable with each other.
Unfortunately, one significant mistake most pet owners make is trying to rush through the introduction phase.
The truth is that both animals have distinct personalities and would react in different ways when being introduced.
Therefore, you should study them carefully and ensure that you go at their pace to avoid aggression or any form of hostile behavior.
- Wikipedia: Poodles
- PetMD: Poodle (Standard)
- Wikipedia: Territory (Animals)
- Dogs: A startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior & evolution
- wikiHow: How To Take Care of Puppies
- Boston University: Post Traumatic Stress in Animals
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society