Despite having a high prey drive, Boxers are typically wonderful with cats and other pets.
You might be most concerned about the threat your Boxer poses to your cat, but it’s actually the other way round.
Corneal lacerations inflicted by your cat on your Boxer when play gets out of hand are probably the biggest risk of having a multi pet household.
Throughout the history of the breed, one of the qualities that’s made the Boxer so widely loved is his adaptability and his steadiness of character.
In his 1947 bible, The Boxer, John P Wagner remarks on the dog’s ability to get along with other domestic animals.
Boxers are known for their patience and gentleness with children and they are generally this way with animals smaller than themselves including cats.
Your Boxer and your kitty cat will most likely play together and snuggle up to sleep alongside each other — it’s one of the reasons Boxers make good apartment dogs.
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Best Age To Get A Cat With A Boxer
1. A Boxer Puppy And A Kitten
The ideal — and safest — way to go about it is to bring your Boxer puppy and your kitten home at the same time.
If they meet when both are tiny, there will be few problems.
2. A Boxer Dog And A Kitten
The next best way to do it is when at least one of the two animals is very young, preferably the cat.
This is because it’s more likely the cat will be the sticking point in the relationship.
However, if you already have an adult cat and are getting a Boxer puppy, don’t worry.
It can still work.
3. A Boxer Dog And An Adult Cat
This third scenario is a little trickier.
If you’re introducing an adult cat and an adult Boxer unfamiliar with cats, or you have more than one Boxer, you’ll need to be a lot more careful.
It will take time.
But with a gradual process and proper management, most Boxers and cats can absolutely live in harmony.
They will end up being great companions.
If you’re in any doubt, check out this interaction between a 3 month old Boxer and a 10 week old kitten:
How To Introduce Your Boxer To Your Cat
If your Boxer is a puppy and your cat is a kitten, you will need to do little more than supervise and gently intervene if things get too boisterous.
It will be much the same if you have an adult Boxer and a kitten.
So let’s tackle the most challenging situation: introducing an adult cat and an adult Boxer.
Don’t take for granted that they will get along.
Each will need to be taught how to behave, and given a chance to get comfortable in stages. Proceed slowly in order to minimize the stress.
If one or other of them is a rescue, you won’t know their past experiences with other pets, so tread particularly carefully.
The main things to remember are:
- Make sure both animals feel safe
- Don’t force them to interact
- Don’t make the cat a forbidden fruit to your Boxer by holding the cat in your arms, fussing or keeping them overly apart
- Make sure your cat can always escape your Boxer for some peace and quiet, either by jumping onto something elevated your Boxer can’t reach or by leaving the room where your Boxer can’t follow
- Never allow your Boxer to pursue or chase the cat
- Gate off some areas at first. A baby gate like the Regalo Easy Step can be helpful
- Keep initial interactions brief and positive
- Take a break if your Boxer gets overexcited
- Keeping your Boxer exercised and mentally stimulated is a precondition to all good behavior
- Reward calm behavior with (calm) praise and treats. A treat pouch like the RoyalCare Silicone Training Bag allows you to always have food rewards handy
- Don’t let your Boxer and your cat be together unsupervised until they’ve proven they’re 100% reliable around each other
- Be aware of the potential for injury to your Boxer
One approach might be to have the cat and your Boxer have their first interaction through a baby gate or similar.
Alternately you might have your Boxer on leash and the cat free, allowing the cat to choose when to approach.
A long line like the Viper Biothane Tracking Lead can be helpful in situations like this, giving your Boxer room to feel off-leash, while giving you a means of intervening by stepping on the leash.
In between sessions, your dog and cat will have time to get used to each other’s scent in the house.
Work on getting your Boxer to lie down or engage in other activities in the presence of the cat, so the cat becomes less of the focus.
You want to instill in your Boxer that cats are just part of life, not a novelty and definitely not something to chase.
In the early days the cat may hiss or swat at the dog.
This is normal boundary establishing behavior.
Once she learns that the Boxer is a gentle giant, the cat will relax and become more comfortable.
When both learn to chill out around each other, and hopefully even get sleepy in each other’s presence, you know you’re making good progress.
It’s not so far from here to the two sharing a bed.
The Deciding Factor
Whether it works or doesn’t will likely be up to the cat.
Where Boxers are unfailingly happy go lucky, cats ooze attitude.
Of course, the dynamics depend on the individual temperaments of the particular Boxer and cat.
And as the owner, you are the key to setting them up for success.
But usually the cat will ending up being the boss, regardless of who was first established in the home.
Boxer Prey Drive
Boxers do have an in-built instinct to chase things that move fast, particularly furry things.
Recognize this is not them being naughty.
It’s hard wired.
They can learn to control the urge to do what comes naturally, through impulse control training.
Anything that gives your Boxer a chance to practice waiting until you give the okay before doing something will help build this skill.
Waiting after you put down the food bowl until you say “Have your dinner”.
Waiting to go through the door until you say “Go ahead” etc.
You need to prevent your adult Boxer ever going after your cat, otherwise there’s a risk this behavior, which is highly self-rewarding, will become habit.
It’s much harder to break a habit than to avoid it happening in the first place.
Even if your Boxer has been inclined to lunge at cats encountered when he’s leashed and on a walk, don’t lose heart.
He may well react much better to a single known cat, up close in the home environment where you can control things and when there is much more time for the animals to get used to each other.
Like anything in your Boxer’s life, practice and desensitization are what it takes.
Health Hazards Cats Can Pose To Boxer Dogs
1. Corneal Lacerations
On meeting a cat, the first instinct of an adult Boxer who has never been exposed to felines may well be to give chase.
If you allow your Boxer to pester your cat, it might terrorise the cat.
But your Boxer will likely come off worst.
He’s bound to get injured when the cat lashes out with sharp claws.
Having no experience with cats, your Boxer has no way of knowing their claws are like needles — a bona fide weapon compared to a dog paw.
It’s imperative that you protect your Boxer from getting scratched, because his eyes will probably be what gets injured — and eye injuries can be serious.
Vets see plenty of corneal lacerations inflicted by cats on dogs.
It’s advisable to use a grinder like the Dremel tool to take the sharp tips off your kitty’s nails.
If your cat is the aggressor, for your Boxer’s protection, you may like to consider having some means of reining the feisty feline in, such as the Rabbitgoo Breathable Cat Harness and Leash.
Cat and dog fleas are different species but each can live on either animal.
Being wider roaming than dogs, cats are most likely to bring home and share the pests.
3. Intestinal Parasites
Dogs can sometimes want to eat cat poop, which can transmit worms.
Discourage this practice and keep your Boxer away from your cat’s litter box.
Roundworms and tapeworms are the most likely risk. (Tapeworm can also be spread by fleas.)
Feeding both your cat and your Boxer a fresh, raw, species appropriate diet is the best defence against health problems of every kind.
Raw feeding owners often report their animals seem to develop a natural resistance to fleas and other parasites.
Despite the name, this is not a worm but a fungus that affects the skin.
It’s regarded as highly contagious through direct contact and via spores shed into bedding, carpet etc.
The spores can also survive in soil.
Both dogs and cats can get rabies.
In theory, if your cat is bitten by a rabid wild animal, she could come home and transmit the disease to your Boxer.
It’s passed through salival contact with mucous membranes of the mouth or nose, or via any open wound.
Don’t be fooled by the name: the bacterium known as bordatella can affect both cats and dogs and pass between them, causing flu-like symptoms.
Bringing home a new pet can be a stressful event for a Boxer, as can any change to the usual routine.
Make sure you plan in advance how you’ll handle it so there’s as little disruption as possible.
If Your Cat Doesn’t Like Your Boxer
If your adult cat decides she wants nothing to do with your Boxer, then you might have to amend your expectations.
Perhaps the goal becomes for the two to tolerate each other.
It will become doubly important for you to give the animals separate areas and to make sure both are getting enough of your attention and feeling secure.
They mightn’t interact, but they cohabitate.
At least they don’t fight and they’re not stressing each other out.
Get to that point.
Then, give it time.
Stress is no good for either of your pets.
Both your cat and your Boxer need to feel safe and relaxed in their own domain.
If you can, get your Boxer puppy and kitten together. Having them meet before either is set in their ways, or has any fear, makes for the smoothest sailing.
If one of the two is already a little older when the other joins the household, prepare for a period of careful socialization and constant supervision.
Above all, never leave your Boxer alone with your cat until you are 100 per cent sure they can be trusted to play nice.