Whether you already have cats and are considering adopting a Great Dane, or the other way around, you’ll want to make sure your pets can coexist happily.
So on to the burning question: do Great Danes get along with cats?
The shortest answer is both yes and no. It depends on how much training your Great Dane has.
How much time you can devote to training also has an impact on how they will get along.
Raising a Kitten with a Great Dane Puppy
It’s quite apparent that the best scenario would be adopting both pets when they’re young and raising them together. This time is when they are most likely to form a close bond.
At this age, everything is new to them, and they are full of curiosity and playfulness. Your pets will grow accustomed to each other while they are absorbing new experiences.
Growing up together will ensure they associate with each other as friends or family. Much preferred to viewing the other as an enemy to fear or prey to chase.
While this is the absolute best scenario, it’s simply not always an option. Let’s look at your options if you need to introduce a new pet into your existing pet family.
How to Introduce a Great Dane to Your Cat
If your house is already home to a cat or several, your first responsibility is to make sure their home remains a safe place for them.
Introducing any new animal into the mix is going to stress your cat out. Luckily there is a multitude of different steps you can take to lessen the impact.
Puppy or Adult Great Dane
You’ll need to consider if you’re adopting a puppy or an adult, as it will have a substantial impact on the methods you’ll need to take to make the introductions go smoothly.
Puppies are still young and learning how they should socialize with other people and animals. This time frame is the best for teaching positive associations with cats.
Adult dogs are a bit more unpredictable as you cannot be sure what socialization or training they’ve had. You also won’t always know if they’ve had bad prior experiences with cats.
Safe Places for Kitty
Step one to introducing your new Great Dane to your existing cat is to ensure you have safe places for your cat to retreat where the dog cannot get to them.
There should always be places your cat can go to be away from the dog. This is true no matter how long you’ve had your pets or how well acquainted they are.
When creating safe places for your feline friend, try to make sure they’ll have access to all the necessities. This includes their food, water, litter box, and sleeping place.
The locations aren’t enough on their own, however. Your cats will also need safe routes to get from each of these locations to the others.
Typically the best way to achieve this is by having cat furniture like cat towers and walkways. You can also make use of existing tall furniture like bookshelves or shelving units.
Great Danes are enormous dogs and can reach quite high up, which is great to keep in mind when designing your space.
How slowly you do an introduction greatly influences the success of the meeting. In the case of a Great Dane and a cat, this is especially true.
A Great Dane has a high prey drive and loves to chase. Cats are small, quick to spook, and love to dart around, making them a great target to chase.
You’ll want to take these introductions as slowly as possible, starting with their scent only. Neither pet should see the other at this phase.
You can swap rooms for a little while when you take the dog out for a walk. Let their noses do the work until they are comfortable with smelling each other.
Repeat this process regularly for several days before letting them finally meet. This will help because they are already familiar with the scent.
By this time, they are likely also familiar with each other’s sounds as well. This is assuming that either your cat meows or your dog barks.
The First Meeting
It’s essential to keep a close eye on your pets when they first meet. Your Great Dane should be on a leash to prevent any chasing, as you don’t want to ever allow that behavior.
If there are any signs of aggression, it’s time to remove them from the room and continue letting them get used to scents more.
You want to ensure your cat doesn’t get cornered or show signs of lashing out at your dog. A sharp swipe may trigger your pup to nip or go into chase mode, which is the last thing you want.
On the other side, even a meeting that is going well requires supervision due to the sheer size of a Great Dane. They may harm a cat without meaning to by simply playing too rough.
Listen To Your Pets
Here’s the final key for you, always listen to your pets. They will tell you when they have had enough, are uncomfortable, or simply uninterested.
If your cat wants nothing to do with the Great Dane, maybe it’s not a good day. You can always try again later or another day. It is much more challenging to overwrite a bad experience they’ve had.
If your Great Dane is hyper and full of zoomies, it may be best to call a rain check for now. Try taking them on a walk or to a park to let off some steam before trying another introduction.
How to Introduce a Cat to Your Great Dane
Much like the method above, slow and steady is the way to achieve a successful introduction. Luckily in this instance, you’re already familiar with your Great Dane.
If your pup is well socialized and has had other experiences with cats, you may be off to a great start. Or, at the very least, you’ll know what behaviors to expect from your dog.
Kitten or Adult Cat
Even a calm Great Dane with no aggression towards cats can be intimidating due to its impressive size. A kitten will likely adjust fairly quickly to this if the Great Dane is calm.
An adult cat in a new environment may react with fear when first meeting such a massive dog.
You’ll be unaware of the past experiences your new adult cat has had if you’re adopting from a shelter or rescue. This can complicate things if your new cat has had poor run-ins with dogs.
A scared cat may run, which can entice the Great Dane to chase. They may scratch or bite, which can also cause the dog to react in kind.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to know if this will be an issue until you’ve already gotten home with your new family member.
There’s hope, though, with enough time and patience. They can have a successful introduction despite their negative memories or associations.
Prepping for a New Cat
Whether you have a Great Dane or not, you’ll need to prepare if you’re adopting a new cat. Having a Great Dane already means you’ll need to prepare thoroughly for this new addition.
You can follow the steps above to create safe places for your cat to go when they need a break. Let’s look at some specific things you can do to prepare your Great Dane to meet a cat.
Obedience training can be incredibly practical for communicating with your Great Dane. If your pup has a firm grasp of a command like “stop,” “no,” or “leave it,” you’re off to a great start.
When introducing the cat, use these obedience commands if there are any signs that the dog is getting too interested or excited. It can be helpful also if the dog seems to want to chase the cat.
Along with obedience is general socialization training. This is a vital step in training any dog, not just for introducing them to cats but also other people, children, and animals of all sizes.
Most aggression from pets stems from unfamiliar or negative experiences.
By exposing your Great Dane to many varied experiences and animals, you’ll lessen the chance of aggression.
Your Great Dane Can Get Along With Your Cat
It’s clear to see that with enough knowledge and preparation, your Great Dane can get along well with your cat. You just need a willingness to devote time and effort to make it work out.
If you are someone that has the time and patience to commit to making it a smooth process, your pets can form a lasting bond.
Even if they don’t end up best friends, they can coexist peacefully. You can ensure they both have happy, full lives by going at their pace and not forcing the introduction too early.
Now that you know it’s completely doable, it’s time to start planning for the newest addition to your family.
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