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Beagles and Cats

Beagle with cat
Photo courtesy of owner: Boryana


There are some breeds that get along with every other type of household pet including felines and other breeds that do best in single-dog households without any other pets to set them off. 

When it comes to a hunting dog like the Beagle, many assume that this breed will have a natural instinct to give chase, making it hard, if not impossible, for both a Beagle and a cat to live under the same room. 

Yet, there are many Beagles that get along very well with cats.  

If you are thinking about bringing a Beagle into a cat household or vice-versa, this section should give some guidance on whether this can work or not. 
After all, each Beagle does have his/her own unique personality and the degree to which a Beagle tends to give chase and thus his ability to live among other animals in peace will vary. 

In this section we will cover:
  • Things to do before mixing the two
  • How to introduce a Beagle and a cat to encourage friendship
  • Tips to keep the peace in a Beagle and cat household

Before Mixing a Beagle and a Cat

With Beagles, it is best to look at the dog's history. If your Beagle barks at and attempts to chase neighborhood cats as if it is his favorite hobby, you'll want to think twice about bringing a feline into the house. With clear hunter instinct being displayed, mixing the two animals is just asking for trouble. If on the other hand, your Beagle shows curiosity or even indifference, this is a good sign.

With a cat, if your plan is to rescue one from a shelter, you'll want to inquire about the cat's history of living with dogs. Those that have done so will be far less likely to run, which is often the trigger that will cause a Beagle to chase her. 

Even so, before making a commitment to bring her home, you will want to allow the cat to smell something that has the scent of the dog on it. A blanket or small pillow are two items that hold in scents quite well and can easily be taken to the shelter or other location where the cat currently is. 

Some cats, just upon smelling a dog, will hiss and this again, is a red flag. Indifference is the behavior that you'll want to look for.
If you have more than one Beagle, getting a cat may not work out well at all. There are two reasons for this: 1) Two or more dogs tend to have a pack mentality when together and are much more likely to give chase. 

After all, the Beagle is the quintessential pack dog. 2) During the initial period (the first month or so), you will need to keep a close eye on things. It will be difficult enough with just one dog, but to watch the behavior of two Beagles is often more than an owner can be expected to handle. 

Best Ages to Mix

There are no rules set in cement, in some cases an adult cat does best with an older dog. This is because the level of playfulness and energy that a puppy has may not vibe well with an older cat this is not used to living with a dog. On the other hand, a Beagle puppy is less dangerous to a cat than an older one.  
Beagle pouncing on cat
Bertie, 12 weeks old
"Sure, we're friends!"
Photo courtesy of owners: The Turners
If you have a Beagle, in many cases an older (and larger) cat may be best. This is because the smaller the animal, the more chase instinct a Beagle tends to have. It would be risky to have a tiny, young kitten placed in a room with a full grown Beagle. 

Prepping a Beagle

In regard to bringing a cat into a Beagle household - If you have seen your Beagle interact with cats and feel confident that the chase instinct is not strong, the next best element to be sure of is your ability to control your dog with commands. 

Should there be any moments of tension or instances where you need to stop the Beagle from harming the cat, all basic commands of Sit, Stay, Leave It, Down, Come and Heel will be invaluable. Work with your Beagle until all of these commands are down pat before proceeding. If you have a Beagle that doesn't listen; it's time to resolve that issue first.

If you have a friend, neighbor or family member that owns a cat, you can ask for them to visit with their pet. Test your Beagle's ability to follow commands when the distraction of a cat is present.  
Beagle and cat together -8
Winston his kitty friend Sebastian
Photo courtesy of Teresa

Prepping a Cat

In regard to bringing a Beagle into a cat household - Some things will need to change when a dog is brought into the house, and for a cat to be safe around a Beagle it is best for the cat's food, litter box and sleeping area (if she has one certain area) to be out of reach of the puppy or dog.  

Even if both pets get along famously, many dogs tend to want to eat a cat's food (it contains higher level of fat and for this reason, dogs are apt to find it appealing) and this can cause upset stomach issues including gas problems in the short term and nutritional imbalances in the long term.

Some dogs are also drawn to kitty litter boxes and unfortunately in many cases this leads to eating cat poop. 
While many think of eating feces (Coprophagia) as a dog eating his own poop or that of another dog, it happens quite a bit when a Beagle has access to a cat's feces.  

The cat scratching the Beagle is also a concern. You may want to consider cat nail caps like Soft Claw's Soft Nail Caps for Cats , which are safe plastic soft caps that go over a cat's naturally super sharp claws. This way, if she takes a swipe at your Beagle, the risk of his cornea being cut or other injury is reduced. 
Finally, the cat should be able to escape if needed, until you know if the two will tolerate each other, it is best if the cat can jump up to her sleeping area and out of the way of the dog. If the cat has a small scratching post that can be placed up high, this would be advantageous as well. 

One of the easiest and most accessible places to move the cat's food and litter box is to make use of a counter. Another helpful tip is to make use of a pet gate. There are 3 ways that this can be incorporated: 1) If the dog is much larger than the cat, you can raise the gate just a bit so that the cat can slip under it to access her food, litter box and resting area. 
2) Additionally, if the cat is much smaller, you can cut out a small section of a mesh gate that the cat can slip through.  3) No matter the size of the two pets, the cat can climb up and over the gate, particularly if it is set up in a doorway near a counter or furniture that the cat can navigate to make the climb but the Beagle cannot. 

Introducing the Two Pets

There are some things that you can do to make the transition a bit easier, though it should be pointed out that when two different animals meet, behavior cannot be fully predicted. For this reason, both pets need to be supervised until you are more than satisfied that there will not be any problems. 
cat and Beagle up high
Alice and best friend, Snowball
Photo courtesy of owner: Lauren Robinson 
The main element of either bringing in a Beagle to a house ruled by a cat or bringing a kitten into a household guarded by a Beagle is to make the introduction a slow one. In fact, each pet should be slowly made aware of the other before they even meet face to face.

Here are some tips:

1. Whichever pet is the established one should be cordoned off into a room while the new pet is brought into the house. If you will be confining your Beagle, be sure to not give the impression that it is some sort of punishment and if needed, have one family member stay with the dog to keep him company. If that is not possible, do be sure to give him a new toy (or two), a snack and water to keep him occupied.

The new pet should be brought in and taken throughout the house for a good 20 to 30 minutes, being brought to locations that the first pet has left scents, such as playing and sleeping areas. After this time, do the reverse and allow the established pet to smell the scents that the newer one has just left as he/she explored.

2. Once this is complete, if both have acted calm during their investigations, with the Beagle on leash, introduce them to each other. 
When this is done, be sure that this happens in a spot that the cat can escape if needed. Cats do not like to be cornered and if she gets spooked, you'll want her to be able to climb her post or jump free to feel safe.

While it would be great if they immediately acted like best friends, this most likely will not happen. Interest is normal and indifference is best. 

When two animals act as if the other does not exist, this is a good sign that neither sees the other as a threat. Do keep in mind that this may be fleeting… once they figure out that the other is there to stay, feelings may change so you'll want to keep an eye on them until behavior has been established. 
3. There may be some times of a Beagle testing limits. He may bother the cat to see how you react. If he gets too close in an aggressive way, you'll want to give the "Leave It' command and immediately give reward when he obeys. 

Additionally, when cats run is the time that a Beagle will be most prone to run after them. Watch closely, so that when the cat scampers off, you can give the 'Stay' command, along with praise for doing so. Done enough times, a Beagle will learn that the cat is 'off limits'. 

4. If things seem to be going well, after a week or two, you can try to have both pets eat their food together, at the same time. 

Eating a meal simultaneously tends to create a close bond with animals and over time will help establish the idea that they are both members of the same 'pack' (household). It is best to start with the cat's food still up on the counter, but with both pets called in at the same time. 

5. Until you see that the two truly get along well, continue to give each pet their own spaces to rest and play without being disturbed by the other. This is especially important for times that you will not be at home. 
Beagle chasing cat up a tree
This Beagle named Rabbit, has chased his housemate Joy up a tree (but they actually get along fine)
Photo courtesy of Leslie Perry

Tips for Helping a Beagle and a Cat Get Along

While your hopes may be for the two pets to snuggle up together and be best friends, this does not always happen… or in some cases, it can take more time that you initially expected. There are 3 main important rules to follow:
1) Never force interaction. Animals need to approach, interact and retreat as they wish. Placing both in the same room to force them to learn to like each other is a sure way to increase tension.  

2) Maintain separate areas. Whether the cat wants to rest right on top of the Beagle's toys or the Beagle rummages in the cat's litter box, these things won't happen if you keep their areas separate and only accessible to each individual pet.

Until there is complete friendship, also think about the route that the animals must take to reach their spots… a cat may be nervous if she has to keep crossing the path of the Beagle to reach her post, etc. 
Beagle sleeping with cat
Alma and her snuggling buddy
Photo courtesy of owner: Boryana
There can be plenty of 'family times' when both pets roam around and pass by each other, however they both should have their own areas to go to where they have all needed comfort and fun without being bothered. 

3) Give your Beagle praise when he either does not bother the cat or shows tolerance. You may think that praise is not needed for 'expected behavior' however since the Beagle has been bred for centuries to run after smaller animals, if he behaves nicely, giving praise can only be beneficial. 

We must remember that our dogs need to hear that they are doing a great job and behaving well, not just when being trained, but throughout their lives.
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