Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
Yorkies and cats, while around the same size, have drastically different personalities.
If you own one and are thinking of getting the other, do some research beforehand.
Deciding to add another animal to your home is an important decision. You want to make sure everyone will be safe, but how can you know if a Yorkie will get along with a cat?
Yorkies are good with cats as long as they’re well-trained. Yorkies are energetic and bossy terriers, which can clash with the laid-back personality of a cat. In contrast, cats can become territorial, so it is vital to introduce the pair slowly and don’t leave them alone until you know it’s safe.
As a veterinary doctor, I will discuss both a cat’s and a Yorkshire terrier’s temperament in the rest of this article, whether they get along by nature, how to encourage a healthy relationship, and what to do if you notice any signs of aggression.
Are Yorkies Naturally Aggressive or Friendly Toward Cats?
Yorkies are known to be tenacious, feisty, brave, and sometimes bossy. People initially bred Yorkies to chase and hunt small rodents, so any smaller animal than them might be considered prey.
Though a Yorkie isn’t likely to view a cat as prey, due to their similar size, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any aggression at all.
Yorkies can show aggression by barking, growling, or trying to fight if they have not been appropriately trained.
Forcing a Yorkie and a cat together can end in a disaster, so make sure each animal has their own space and allow them to get to know each other on their own time.
How Territorial Are Cats?
Cats are territorial creatures, so adding another animal to the home will probably upset them at first.
The good news is that most cats tend to only show such aggression towards other cats.
However, they can be territorial toward dogs as well under the wrong circumstances.
Cats typically show territorial aggression by marking their turf. This might include rubbing their chins, spraying urine, or simply patrolling certain spots.
They also might try to stalk the “intruder” and show signs of aggression by hissing and chasing.
While the cat may be annoyed with a new animal at first, it’ll get used to it after a period of adjustment.
How Territorial Are Yorkies?
Yorkies are protective animals, and because of this, they can become territorial over new animals moving onto their turf.
A Yorkie who was adequately trained and socialized from a young age shouldn’t have any issues.
Still, the initial period after introducing them is always going to be a little rough.
Yorkies can become overconfident around other animals, which may lead to territorial disputes.
I’m Already a Cat Parent, and I’m Thinking of Getting a Yorkie
If you already own a cat and you’re thinking about adopting a Yorkie, there are some crucial steps you should take depending on the age of each animal.
How To Introduce a New Yorkie Puppy to My Kitten
The best and least difficult time to introduce a cat and a dog is when they’re both young because there will be no territorial disputes.
To introduce a puppy to your kitten, let them sniff each other and explore their surroundings together.
They’ll probably want to play, but keep an eye on them and make sure the Yorkie isn’t too rough while playing with your kitten.
As they’re both babies, there shouldn’t be any trouble.
How To Introduce a New Yorkie Puppy to My Adult Cat
Slowly introduce a Yorkie puppy to an adult cat. Since dogs are usually the aggressors in cat/dog relationships, going slowly should keep the cat calm.
Put the cat in a different room and let the puppy smell around.
Then you can bring the cat in and gradually introduce the two. If your cat seems territorial or the puppy is causing it to act out, separate the two and try again later.
How To Introduce a New Adult Yorkie to My Kitten
To introduce your kitten to an adult Yorkie, let the Yorkie smell the kitten to get it used to its scent.
Keep the animals apart for some time as they get used to the other’s presence.
If the Yorkie is acting territorial or trying to hurt the kitten, you need to intervene right away.
Teach the Yorkie commands and give it a firm “no” during bad behavior.
As the kitten ages, the Yorkie should get used to it.
However, if bad behavior persists, you might have to keep them separated or rehome one of them.
How To Introduce a New Adult Yorkie to My Adult Cat
Introducing a new Yorkie to your cat can be tricky. To do this:
- Keep the cat out of the way while the Yorkie learns about the house and gains his bearings.
- Let the animals smell each other to get used to the scent.
- Keep doing this for several days.
If either animal acts territorial by hissing, barking, or trying to claw at the other, you should intervene by separating the two.
You can continue to try to introduce them.
Still, they may never like each other if this behavior continues for more than two weeks.
I’m Already a Yorkie Parent, and I’m Thinking of Getting a Cat
Adding a cat to a house with a Yorkie can prove challenging at first, but they should become friendly companions after adjusting.
How To Introduce a New Kitten to My Yorkie Puppy
Since your Yorkie puppy is still young, it shouldn’t feel territorial with the addition of a new kitten.
Introducing your puppy to cats or kittens at a young age will properly socialize it and prove to be better for their relationship in the long run.
There shouldn’t be any trouble between the two babies.
How To Introduce a New Kitten to My Adult Yorkie
At first, your Yorkie will probably be confused and maybe a little jealous of the new kitten.
To introduce them, let your Yorkie smell the kitten but keep them separated for a while to ensure the kitten’s safety.
Yorkies get very jealous and possessive of their owners.
Keep an eye out for any pushy behaviors or aggression when the kitten is around, and intervene if you notice your Yorkie behaving this way.
How To Introduce a New Adult Cat to My Yorkie Puppy
Adult cats shouldn’t have much of a problem with your Yorkie puppy.
Introduce a new cat to your Yorkie puppy by allowing them both to get used to the other’s scent.
Bring your puppy in to meet the new cat. Don’t force the cat to interact with the puppy, but let it warm up on its terms.
Look out for hissing, clawing, or any other sign of aggression from your cat.
Intervene immediately and separate the two if you see these signs.
How To Introduce a New Adult Cat to My Adult Yorkie
At first, your adult Yorkie might be jealous of your new cat. To introduce the two, place your dog in another room and allow the cat to explore the house.
The new cat should be able to smell the Yorkie. After a while, introduce the two by putting the Yorkie on a leash.
At any sign of aggression, separate the animals.
Can Cats and Yorkies Be Left Alone Together?
You’ll eventually want to be able to leave your pets alone together, but you need to pay attention to how the Yorkie and cat interact when alone.
Paying attention to the animals soon after introducing them is one thing. Still, you have to continue to pay attention as time goes on.
Do they get in little fights now and then? Or have there been no instances at all?
If they have gotten into fights, leaving them alone is risky. One of the animals could be seriously injured or even killed.
However, if you haven’t noticed any aggressive behavior, you might be able to leave them alone for a little while.
If you leave them alone, make sure to separate all of their belongings like food bowls and beds.
Doing so will ensure they each have their own spaces and will reduce the chances of them getting into a dispute while you’re gone.
Before leaving them alone for an extended period, consider a test run.
Set up a camera or your phone, and leave the house for a few minutes.
Watch to see how they react, and be ready to get back inside should they begin to show aggression.
How To Facilitate a Successful Friendship
The best thing you can do to facilitate a successful friendship would be to introduce both the Yorkie and the cat at young ages.
This way, the animals will get used to each other, and they’ll be more likely to get along as adults.
However, if you already have an adult cat or Yorkie, try the following:
- Give both animals the same amount of attention. Adequate attention will help alleviate any jealousy.
- Introduce the animals slowly. As mentioned before, this is the best way to increase the chances that they will get along.
- Let them have their own spaces. Constantly being around each other might cause fights.
Signs Your Yorkie Is Not Adapting Well to Their New Feline Sibling (and How To Intervene)
You’ll notice if your Yorkie isn’t adapting well to the new cat in the house because, in serious incidents, it will show aggressive behaviors, such as growling or snapping.
If this behavior continues after 2-3 weeks, they will probably never get along with the cat.
Unfortunately, this means you should rehome an animal or constantly keep them separated.
However, sometimes there will be minor issues you’ll have to intervene on and eventually train the Yorkie to stop doing.
The Yorkie could be annoying the cat, and this could start a fight.
To intervene in this, give a stern ‘no’ and separate them. Eventually, they should learn to separate during a fight.
Signs Your Cat Is Not Adapting Well to Their New Canine Sibling (and How To Intervene)
If your cat isn’t adapting well to the new Yorkie, you’ll notice behaviors such as hissing and scratching.
Typically, if there is tension between a cat and a Yorkie, it’s usually the Yorkie causing problems.
While cats can become jealous and territorial, they should eventually get used to the new dog.
To prevent this, make sure you’re giving your cat the same amount of attention as the Yorkie.
If the behavior continues, you’ll need to keep the two separated.
Yorkies are generally good with cats. If you introduce a Yorkie puppy to a cat or kitten, the two should grow to have a beautiful friendship.
However, every animal is different and may not take a liking to the other.
Proper training and socialization of a Yorkie is a significant factor in being good with cats.
By adequately training them, they shouldn’t show any signs of aggression.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to remember to pay attention to each pet’s behaviors to determine if the two will get along.
- Wikipedia: Yorkshire Terrier
- PetMD: Introducing a New Puppy To a Household With a Cat
- Family Pet Planet: Yorkie Temperament: Are They Good with Other Dogs and Cats?
- Yorkie Page: Do Yorkies Get Along With Cats?
- American Kennel Club: Yorkshire Terrier
- Yorkie Info Center: Yorkshire Terriers and Cats
- ASPCA: Aggression in Cats
- PetMD: 9 Signs Your Pet is Jealous (and How to Stop It)
Click here to read my one-page Yorkie parent’s guide
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