Rottweilers are big, intimidating dogs whose unfair and inaccurate reputations as brutes precede them. They are indeed large, but they are often misrepresented because of their fearsome appearance.
As a cat owner, there’s a chance you like dogs too. And many cat owners indeed have homes with other pets – cats and dogs especially. But, for those new to this setup, introducing a dog to a cat home or vice-versa comes with many questions.
So the question at hand is: Would a Rottweiler make for a good choice of the dog in a home with cats? Do they, in fact, get along? Or are you inviting trouble by considering it? Let’s take a look at the Rottweiler breed, and what you should know if you intend to introduce one to your cat home.
- 1 Rottweilers and Cats: A Very Short Rottweiler History
- 2 Rottweilers and Cats
- 3 How to Introduce a Rottweiler and Cat
- 4 Importance of Socializing your Rottweiler
- 5 Bonus: A Few Things to Note About Rottweilers
- 6 Final Thoughts on Rottweilers and Cats
Rottweilers and Cats: A Very Short Rottweiler History
Rottweilers are working dogs, bred specifically to work with cattle by the Romans! The name actually comes from a region of Germania – Rottweil. Early records show they were useful in providing security for traveling traders, who would tie their money pouches around the pooches’ necks for safety.
They were also reportedly popular police and crowd control dogs. This probably contributed somewhat to their reputation for being aggressive. The breed was finally officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in the early 1900s.
1. A Rottweiler Shouldn’t be Your First Dog
Many dog experts agree that a Rottie should not be your first dog. If you’ve never owned dogs before and are unfamiliar with managing dog personalities and behavior, you may inadvertently mistrain your dog and cause problematic and unwanted behavior.
While a Rottweiler is perfectly capable of being a happy, friendly dog, it needs strong and constant socialization in order to function around other people and animals.
Aside from that issue, a Rottweiler needs a lot of attention and exercise and will require your company and focus much of the time. If you’re unprepared for that sort of commitment, it’s best to look elsewhere for a suitable dog breed to foster or adopt. On the other hand, if you’re keen on a big dog, perhaps a German shepherd or golden retriever, both far easier-going, would be more your pace.
Rottweilers and Cats
It’s never helpful to generalize about dog breeds and cats, let alone individual dogs and cats. But what you should note is that Rotties do have a strong chase instinct.
A cat is small, quick, and can be skittish. The math on this isn’t complicated. So it comes down to whether you can successfully plan an introduction and integration and then whether those specific personalities are compatible.
That said, well-socialized Rotties get along quite well with cats. Many reports suggest that they get along better with cats than with other dogs. This is anecdotal but not to be dismissed.
Rottweilers compete for dominance with other dogs. They are also protective, and if they come to see the (non-competitive) cat as family or “pack,” they will act accordingly. This is more likely to happen when the pup is raised with the cat or kitten present.
2. Rottweiler Reputations Are Somewhat Unfair
While Rottweilers have been used in security and protection contexts, their reputation as being naturally aggressive isn’t deserved. Rottweilers are actually quite playful and silly, given the right circumstances.
Many owners are happy to have their dogs around other pets and children.
3. Rottweilers are Protective
Rottweilers who are encouraged to socialize with other people and pets from when they are very young will grow up considering the family as their pack. They adopt a protective role as they grow older. This is why proper socialization is important.
You don’t want the dog to react negatively when other people visit, or when encountering other animals on walks. The instinct to protect should never override the discipline instilled during socialization.
How to Introduce a Rottweiler and Cat
As mentioned, the ideal scenario is to acquire both the cat and the Rottweiler together, when they are a kitten and puppy respectively. As they play and learn about the world, the presence of the other will seem natural and normal. You’re unlikely to experience any problems between the two as they grow.
That said, there are still a few things to be mindful of, even if you can provide this ideal scenario. If, like most people you can’t, here is what else to consider.
4. Think About the Animal Personalities
Every single animal is different. If you know your cat well, you should be able to anticipate whether introducing a dog is a good idea. Factors such as confidence, age, and experience with other dogs may all be a factor.
Many owners tell amusing stories of how the cat owns the house, including the dog. This may well happen. But you may also experience anxiety and aggression from either pet, if they are so inclined. So take a moment to honestly look at your animals and make a judgment call.
5. Don’t Rush Things
There’s a primary rule when introducing animals that don’t know each other. Don’t leave them alone until you are absolutely certain that they are friendly and get along.
If the Rottweiler is anything but a young puppy, it should be on a leash when making introductions. You may need to control or at best restrain him if he reacts negatively to the cat. Also, try your best to talk your pets through the experience. Alleviating the shock of seeing a new animal isn’t totally possible, but you can mitigate it to some degree.
Have treats on hand and use soothing tones when talking. But be the dominant being in the room as far as possible.
8. Introducing a Rottweiler to a Cat Home
You can prepare for this in some smart ways. Introduce an item to both beforehand that smells of the other. A pet blanket or something similar is good for this. It’s also a good practice to let them see each other before actually introducing them physically. Perhaps through a door or window.
Remember, your dog should be leashed and taking your instruction at this point and indeed throughout.
When you are confident enough and you do introduce them physically, it’s important to take the dog to the cat, preferably in a space the dog has never been before. This is a small way to mitigate the territoriality of the dog. It is in an unfamiliar space, and may not be as ready to defend it from this new being.
This space should have a familiar escape route for the cat – just in case it reacts with fear. If it’s going well, let them sniff at each other and familiarize themselves. Be patient. It may not go that well on the first go.
7. Introducing a Cat to a Rottweiler Home
You can follow many of the similar steps to prepare as above. Introduce an item with the other’s scent, etc.
The issue here is that the house is already Rottweiler’s territory. So you’re going to have to be more vigilant about noting its reaction to the cat. The cat may also not be happy about suddenly having this huge beast in its presence.
As part of normalizing a cat to its new home, you often isolate it to a single room until is adapts to its new home. This is a good opportunity to let the animals sniff each other from the other side of a door.
After a while, try to ease into an introduction as above.
8. Watch for Anxiety
At this time, you need to keep a sharp eye on the Rottweiler for signs of anxiety. Here’s what to look out for:
- Ears pinned back on the head
- Pulling at the leash
- Howling and barking
- Excessive panting
- Lips being licked excessively
- Stiff and aggressive posture – like he wants to charge or chase
- Wide eyes, especially when the whites can be seen
9. Account for the Unexpected
We mentioned having an escape route for the cat. Cats feel a lot more secure if they know there’s a getaway at hand. Furthermore, if there’s a safe space at the end of that getaway, they will seek to get there and hide, or at least be out of reach from the threat.
10. Keep Food and Feeding Separated
Feeding time is one of those primary triggers for conflicts. It has the potential to flare up like a daily Thanksgiving dinner argument. One way to alleviate this is to completely separate the feeding bowls and areas in which each animal feeds.
Ideally, the cat should be able to enjoy their meal, and eat in peace in a space the dog cannot reach.
Importance of Socializing your Rottweiler
Because Rottweilers are territorial and protective, it’s important to establish in obedience training that you are the leader, and in charge. Without this, Rottweilers may indeed see you as theirs to protect from others, and act aggressively towards strangers.
If a Rottweiler is used to being around other pets and people from a young age, introducing it to a cat will likely create far fewer problems. Early on, try to get your Rottweiler puppy out in the park to meet other people and dogs. Always on a leash, of course.
Bonus: A Few Things to Note About Rottweilers
If you’re still wondering about whether a Rottweiler is right for you, consider these final odd bits of info and Rottie trivia.
- Rotties seem to keep their kid brains for a while. They will act like puppies for far longer than most other dogs, sometimes up to two years.
- Rottweilers are very smart and are most happy when doing something useful. They are working dogs after all. Keeping them busy will help keep them focused and friendly.
- They are so adaptable, they can be used as service dogs. They are eager to please and will readily learn some complex tasks.
- They love to lean in. Some breeds show affection by leaning into you when standing alongside you. Rotties are one of these. It’s not trying to muscle you out of space. It’s just giving you a hug.
- Be prepared to use some muscle. Rotties are very strong, and be you should be prepared to physically manage your dog if ever required.
- Sadly, you may need to check with your community or insurance about whether owning a Rottweiler has legal implications. Some communities have by-laws banning them, and some insurances will not cover liability when it comes to Rotties.
- It’s highly recommended you employ an expert of doggie school to train your Rottweiler as soon as possible, even from 12 weeks old.
Final Thoughts on Rottweilers and Cats
Be aware that introducing a Rottweiler to a cat home will require some work up front, during and throughout. Rottweilers are dogs that require a lot of focus from you, to begin with. They will need training and attention.
That said if you are prepared to put in some hard yards up front, and especially if you are able to acquire a puppy at 8 weeks or so, you should be able to raise a friend and protector for your whole family, cats included.
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