If you’re anything like our household, we are animal crazy! We not only have a gorgeous cockapoo but have fish, some other small pets, and of course our cat! When we first got out of cockapoo we found ourselves asking the questions: can cockapoos get on with cats, and how should you introduce a cockapoo to a pet cat?
If you’re wondering the same thing, well then you’re in luck this article is just for you! I’ll cover the obvious questions, as well as give a few tips from our experience of introducing Ziggy to our cat.
Can cockapoos get on with cats?
The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes! Cockapoos can get on with cats very easily, provided you as the owner make sure to to introduce the two animals in a careful, and stress-free way.
More on that later…
Of course what this looks like in practice is perhaps different for every pair of cockapoo and cat.
By this, I mean the fact that you have to set your expectations about what you want the relationship between your cockapoo and cat to be.
What does a cat and cockapoo living together actually look like?
This is a really difficult question to give one answer to because inevitably the answer is, it depends.
When we first introduced our cockapoo to our cat, we secretly hoped that they would become firm friends overnight.
Unfortunately, because of both of their personalities this didn’t happen. Ziggy is enormously friendly, while the cat likes to be left alone. Put the two together and you end up with a dog who can’t work out why the cat doesn’t want to play all the time. Cue the occasional excited bark, and the occasional angry hiss!
Really, understanding the relationship between your cat and cockapoo is about having a little bit of a reality check. It took us many years before both our cockapoo and cat were comfortable to sleep next to each other. Even now, it’s not exactly like they get on like the best of friends.
In reality the relationship between our cat and cockapoo can be best summed up as they tolerate each other.
That said, Ziggy has never once shown any aggression towards our cat, the same can’t always be said about our cat!
Introducing your cockapoo to your pet cat
If you’re reading this article you’re probably wondering what steps you have to take to introduce a cockapoo to a pet cat so that they can get along with each other.
Typically, it is said that it is easier to introduce a puppy to a cat, rather than a kitten to a dog. This is because an adult cat will have no problem telling the puppy who is “boss.” This is exactly what we did and it worked – so here are a few tips from our perspective.
I should mention that in all of this, we never left our cockapoo and cat together unattended. While we had full confidence that nothing actually bad would happen, we just didn’t want to run that risk!
Step one – preparation
Before you even have the two animals in the same space together it’s important to think about both animals’ stress levels for the encounter ahead.
One thing that helped us was to first think like a cat. They have their territory, and they mark it with scent. Once a dog comes into that territory they’re going to get a little bit … miffed.
So, what we did was buy some Feliway diffusers. This is basically a genius, plug-in diffuser that releases cat pheromones in your home (humans can’t smell it) – mimicking their face rubbing against things in their house. From your cat’s perspective, what basically happens is that your whole house becomes a huge “safe” smell for them.
With this in place, we then introduced our Cockapoo Ziggy to our cat, without worrying that his scent would scare away our cat.
(Bonus tip – there’s also a pretty cool looking Adaptil Scented Collar for dogs that can help with initial puppy separation anxiety for those first few weeks – bit too late for us now, but worth considering if you’re bringing a puppy home for the first time)
Another thing we did to prepare was to make sure that there were some cat friendly areas in the house that our Cockapoo couldn’t mess with. First in that list was to move the cat’s feeding bowls to a spare kitchen counter (no, not near our food prep areas!). We also put up an empty perching shelf in the room our cat likes to hangout in the most, complete with a fleece blanket, to provide him with a bit of a safe haven.
Step two – the introduction
To actually introduce our cockapoo and cat, we kept them in two separate rooms at first and let each one get to know the other by scent alone. Obviously, for our cockapoo there were a hundred and one things to investigate, so the smell of a cat didn’t really interest him.
Our cat, however, quickly cottoned onto the fact that a dog was in the other room and instantly lept onto a window sill on guard watch.
After around an hour or so, we opened the dividing door and occupied both animals with some treats. The idea behind this was for them both to get a small boost of positivity from being in the room together.
I’m not really sure it worked amazingly well, though, because as soon as the cat spied a chance to get out of the room, he did!
Meanwhile, our Cockapoo decided to trot after him. Obviously, we were close enough to pull one away from the other if something got out of hand, but what happened next proved to be the best learning tool ever…
After a quick sniff of each other, Ziggy got a little too sniffy with our cat’s bottom. So, the cat decided to bop our cockapoo on his nose. Cue Ziggy yelping in surprise and scampering back to us.
Now, we probably could have intervened a little in this, but we decided to let this moment slide and just comforted the dog. We figured that a little paw swipe was an unfortunate, but useful, learning tool for Ziggy that taught him the cat was not to be messed with!
Step three – coexistence
Following that first encounter, what followed was around a six month period where we supervised every encounter between cat and cockapoo. And every encounter proved painfully predictable.
Every time the cat would enter the room, Ziggy would give an excited little yelp and scamper on over to the cat. The cat, depending on his mood, would either completely ignore him and continue onto his goal (normally, his food bowl or the sofa), or would stand dead still and let Ziggy sniff him.
Either way, we would then call Ziggy back to us and give him a toy to divert him (these toys are excellent). I would love to say this was 100% effective in preventing any fall-outs between the animals, but in reality it was about 80%.
There were times when Ziggy would get a little too “pushy” with the cat, which ended up in a paw swipe and a yelp. And there were times when the cat just couldn’t be bothered to engage and would swiftly turn around and leave.
That said, 8 out of 10 times, the encounter ended peacefully. Over time, they learned to coexist. The cat, realising that the dog was here to stay, began to tolerate the greetings more often. And Ziggy, over time, learned what the cat’s boundaries were. A nose up the cat’s bottom – he learned – was a red line.
Step four – tolerance
After this first 6 month period of continually supervising, there then followed about a year or more of what can be best described as tolerance.
We continued to to employ toys to keep our cockapoo engaged in a positive way around our cat, and that worked much the same as before.
What started to change however was that the cat felt more comfortable sharing key spaces in the home with Ziggy.
For example, the sofa we hang out on to watch TV became one of these neutral spaces where the cat would sit on the top cushions while Ziggy we would fall asleep below.
To get to this stage it was really just about perseverance and patience on our part as owners. We never actually actively encouraged our cat to do this behaviour, but instead left it up to him as to when he felt comfortable to do it.
Really, I think that’s the key with all things cats: you have to let them go at their own pace.
Step five – harmony (sort-of)
After many years of living together, I think it’s safe to say that we have reached the stage of harmony in our household.
Both cat and dog are no longer really that interested in each other. But, more than this they no longer just occupy the same areas but are much more content to hang out with each other at much closer distances.
Now, while we don’t leave our cockapoo and cat in the same rooms when we are out of the house, we don’t feel any need to keep tabs on on where each of them are throughout the day.
This can lead to incredibly cute moments of finding them both asleep on our bed together (although not cuddled up to one another)
Summary – can cockapoos live with pet cats
Hopefully by reading this article you’ve got a good understanding about whether it can and a cockapoo can live together and get along. And, hopefully you’ve learnt a little bit more about how to make this happen from our own experience.
If there’s a key takeaway here, it’s that it is entirely possible for a cat and a cockapoo to get along quite well. There is a responsibility though on you as an owner to make sure that you are constantly on hand at least for the first year or so whenever the two get together.
And, is probably worth ending with the little word of caution. While it can be tempting to always think that the cat is boss, do bear in mind the cockapoos are a lot bigger. We’ve never actually met a vicious cockapoo whatsoever, but until you have a really good understanding of your own dog it’s always best to make sure you’re around whenever cat and cockapoo get together!