Collies and cats guide (Are collies good with cats?)

Thinking about adding a collie to your home with cats? Or thinking about adding a feline friend to your collie’s home? Collies have unique personalities in the canine world and there are a few things to consider before making the introductions.

In general, collies aren’t great with cats. Their strong chasing and herding instincts mean they often see your furry feline friend as an irresistible opportunity for a chase, however don’t let that put you off. Collies are gentle and cooperative dogs, and with a little training collies can be great with cats.

Adding any new pet to your home will always effect the dynamic of the home for your existing pets, so it’s important to introduce your collie to any new cats carefully and vice versa.

Are Collies Cat Friendly?

Collies have highly developed chase and herding instincts but are also non aggressive, meaning even if they catch your feline friend, they are unlikely to attack them.

In general, collies are not thought of as cat friendly due to their strong chase instincts, however collies are very loyal and affectionate and with a little training and some time to become accustomed to each other, collies and cats can form an inseparable bond.

For any family with a lot of cats, adding a collie to the mix will take more work than some other breeds, but it’s definitely possible, and it’s very easy if your collie is still fairly young.

Why do collies stare at cats?

Collies stare at cats because they have very strong herding instincts, which have been bred in to them for hundreds of years.

Although collies are generally not aggressive, they have extremely highly developed herding instincts due to their working heritage which means their herding behavior often manifests as chasing, staring, and other herding behaviors.

Collies’ distinctive stare alludes to their heritage as working sheep dogs

Do collies get on with cats?

Collies are generally very loyal to their owner and to anyone else they see as a part of their pack.

Although collies are prone to herding and chasing cats they don’t recognize, once a collie accepts your cat as part of their family, collies get on very well with cats.

Collies are notoriously mistrustful of strangers, and although collies can get on great with cats in the same household, their highly ingrained herding instincts can mean that unknown cats will always be interesting to your collie, and a target of their herding behaviors, such as chasing and staring.

How to introduce your collie to a new cat

  • If possible, introduce them as a puppy
    Collies are far more likely to be friendly with a cat they have grown up with since they were young, since it removes any need for your collie to accept your cat as part of the family.
  • Isolate your collie from cats at first
    If you’re introducing a new cat to the home, or you’re introducing a collie to your home where there is already a cat, it’s important to give them space to settle down before any introductions. A separate room is best, somewhere they can feel at ease before meeting their new friend.
  • Introduce them by sound and scent
    Keep your collie separated from your kitty, but let them hear and smell the cat before fully introducing them, so that it’s not a completely unknown experience for them when they see your cat for the first time. If you have a blanket the cat usually sleeps on, spread it on your collie’s bed so they get used to the scent.
  • Brush up on recall and basic commands
    If your collie is no longer a pup, it may be worth spending some time brushing up on recall and other basic commands like down, no, and come. If your collie is under control, it will make things easier for you, your collie, and your cat.
  • Meet and greet with a pet gate
    A pet gate is the perfect way to introduce your collie to other pets, because it enables them to see and smell each other, but prevents any chasing which may scare your cat. If you don’t have a pet gate, a doggy enclosure would be perfect too. Avoid having your collie in their crate
  • Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior
    If your cat seems scared or panicky, it’s important to give them space and not force them to do anything they don’t want to. A gradual introduction is the best option for both your cat and your collie and will ensure they can get to know each other and become great friends.

Can herding dogs live with cats?

In time, most herding dogs can learn to live with cats.

It’s important to allow your herding dogs time to accept your cats in to their pack, so that they are comfortable around them.

Once your collie has accepted your cat as part of their family, they will be loyal protectors and the greatest of friends.

Why do collies chase cats?

Collies chase cats because herding is an innate part of their nature. Collies love chasing and herding, and to your collie, your cat is an unmissable dynamic herding opportunity.

Herding Instincts

Over the centuries, collies have been selectively bred to improve their chasing and herding abilities, so it’s hardly unexpected that this behavior carries on in to the collies of today.

Twitchy nature

Collies are notoriously twitchy and easily spooked, and they often bark at things they don’t recognize or understand, even shadows or leaves blowing in the wind.

Protective instincts

Your collie is more likely to chase cats if they don’t recognize them as part of their family or pack, especially if they see them around your neighborhood.

Luna is very sensitive to unknown situations or circumstances. She didn’t like when the council came to clear the drains.

Would a collie bite a cat?

Although collie chasing and herding behavior can sometimes seem aggressive, it’s important to remember that collies have a strong chase instinct, but lack any kind of hunting instinct or prey drive.

Collies are not aggressive dogs, and even though your cat would definitely prefer not to be chased, collies are herding dogs and not hunting dogs. Collies are not interested in actually catching a cat, they just love the chase and are not likely to ever bite or attack them.

In fact, if you have a cat that has seen it all before and doesn’t react to your collie by running away, you’ll notice your collie has absolutely no interest in them after a while and just goes back to whatever they were doing.

How to train your collie not to chase cats

Although herding behavior is highly ingrained in collies, it can definitely be managed.

Collies are some of the smartest dogs on the planet, and with a little training almost any behavior can be taught.

Don’t react strongly to chasing behaviors

When your collie displays unwanted chasing behavior, it’s important not to react strongly, since this will reinforce the behavior to your collie and even if you try to stop your dog or catch them, they might see this as a game.

Making a fuss over your collie chasing a cat tells your collie that chasing is a way to get your attention, and that cats are important and worth chasing.

The best course of action is to ignore unwanted behavior, and instead try to distract your collie with something else.

Distract them with something else

Keep your collie entertained with a ball or other toy, or by playing with them.

If you notice your collie staring at a cat, and you think they might be about to chase or bark, offer a toy or play time to your collie instead, and reward them for coming to you.

The idea here is that your collie learns that cats are not important or exciting, and that whatever you have is infinitely more interesting than chasing a cat.

Reward positive behavior

Collies don’t respond well to a heavy hand, usually the best way to train a collie to do anything is with positive reinforcement, and unwanted cat chasing is no exception to this rule.

If you’re outdoors, it’s a good idea to keep some treats in your pocket, and to reward your collie for walking calmly at random intervals. This will help keep your collie closer to you, and teach them that staying nearby is desired behavior.

Collies love to please, and although they are intelligent dogs they are still only dogs and need to be taught what we want them to do by positive reinforcement. “Sit” and “Stay” are not commands a dog would learn in the wild, so we need to teach them by rewarding them whenever they perform correctly.

Always respond to good behavior with a treat, a toy, or by petting them so that they associate the calm behavior with the reward. You can reinforce this even further by using an audible “good dog” command, or by using a clicker.

Collie Guard Dog
Luna staring at the neighbor’s cat when it jumped up to the window ledge

Are all collies good with cats?

Are border collies good with cats?

Border Collies are extremely likely to chase cats they don’t recognize, however once a Border Collie accepts a cat as part of their family, they can be very close and great friends. Border Collies are not aggressive and even if they do chase cats, they are very unlikely to actually catch or hurt them.

Are rough collies good with cats?

Rough Collies have extremely strong chasing and herding instincts and are likely to want to chase any cats they see, however rough collies are also very affectionate and loyal and once they accept your cat as part of the family, they can become inseparable.

are welsh collies good with cats?

Welsh collies are working dogs at their heart, and even if your Welsh Collie is a family pet, their instincts and innate characteristics were forged on the steep hills of North Wales, chasing and herding sheep.

Welsh Collies are likely to chase, stare, and bark at cats they don’t know. This behavior stems from their working heritage, where they would protect the farm from foxes, cats, and other predators.

Once they have become accustomed to your cat, welsh collies can be good with cats and will be a loyal protector.

are bearded collies good with cats?

Given enough time to become accustomed to each other, Bearded Collies can be great companions for your cats, although it will take some training and a gradual introduction. For cats outside your family, Bearded Collies are likely to want to chase them, but this can be trained out of them with positive reinforcement.

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!