Updated Aug 22, 2022
It can be problematic when any cats and dogs live together, but Cane Corsos present some particular considerations. Our two Cane Corsos have lived with two cats for 10 and 11 years respectively, without any incident.
Are Cane Corso Able To Live With Cats? Cane Corso can live in harmony with cats. The Cane Corso has a strong prey drive, but they are also devoted to their family and excel at following the lead of their owners. They are well capable of recognizing cats as their family members, because their owners do.
The Potential Problem With Cane Corsos And Cats
It would be foolish and irresponsible to ignore the potential issues with Cane Corsos and cats. The potential problem is that one of the Cane Corso breed characteristics is a strong prey drive. But, breed characteristics can be tempered with environment and training.
Understanding Cane Corso's Prey Drive in Detail
The Nature of Prey Drive in Cane Corsos
Cane Corsos, like many large breeds, possess a natural prey drive, which is an instinctual behavior rooted in their history as hunting and working dogs.
This drive is characterized by a tendency to chase and sometimes capture smaller animals. Understanding this behavior is crucial for pet owners, especially when considering a cohabitation scenario with cats.
Managing Prey Drive
While it's not possible to completely eliminate a dog's prey drive, it can be managed and redirected. Key strategies include:
- Consistent Training: From a young age, Cane Corsos should be trained to obey commands such as 'leave it' or 'stay,' which can be crucial in preventing unwanted chasing behaviors.
- Mental and Physical Stimulation: A well-exercised Cane Corso is less likely to exhibit strong prey-driven behaviors. Activities that engage their mind and body can help in redirecting their natural instincts.
- Controlled Introductions: Gradual and controlled introductions to cats, under supervision, can help the dog understand and accept the cat as part of their social group, rather than as prey.
Redirecting the Prey Drive
Redirecting a Cane Corso’s prey drive involves channeling their instinctual behaviors into acceptable outlets. This can be achieved through:
- Structured Playtime: Engaging in structured play that allows them to 'chase' toys under controlled conditions.
- Obedience Training: Reinforcing obedience training can help in redirecting their focus and energy away from prey-like behavior towards more desirable actions.
- Socialization: Proper socialization with various animals, including cats, from an early age can significantly reduce the intensity of the prey drive towards those animals.
Understanding and managing the prey drive in Cane Corsos is a key step in ensuring a harmonious relationship between these dogs and cats.
Through consistent training, proper socialization, and providing appropriate outlets for their natural behaviors, Cane Corsos can learn to coexist peacefully with feline companions.
Teaching Your Cane Corso To Get Along With Your Cats
Any breed of dog can probably be trained to get along with cats, but there does need to be some training in order to get a predictable result.
The guarding breeds of dogs are actually said to be amongst the easiest to train to live with cats. This has been our experience, and it's easy to understand why this would be the case.
The nature of the guard dog is to protect. The Cane Corso is one of the best guard dogs around. All the Cane Corso needs to understand is that a cat is part of the family, and the family protection will automatically extend to the cat.
Of the guarding breeds, Cane Corsos have another advantage in learning to live with cats.
One of the other Cane Corso breed characteristics is that they are smart and eager to please, and not at all difficult to train. As a result, they are quick to recognize those that we are friendly, loving or affectionate towards — including cats — and they will adjust their behavior accordingly.
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A couple of extra points
- It's important to allow the Cane Corso and the cat to progress at their own pace — you can't force it.
- It's good for your cat to have somewhere to escape to if it feels the need. Most homes have this naturally — a cat can get underneath the sofa, behind furniture, under the bed etc.
Some people take this to an extreme, building a sanctuary high up on a wall. There is really no need to go this far — just have a quick look around and make sure your Cane Corso and your cat are interacting in an area where the cat has some form of escape route.
Having said that, a fleeing small animal is the precise thing which will naturally trigger a dog's prey drive. So the cat has to learn to become comfortable, and the dog has to learn that the cat is a family member.
You can see when the two animals are becoming relaxed with each other. In the best case scenario, they will actually become friends, and exhibit affection towards each other.
Detailed Socialization and Training Tips
Early Socialization Techniques
Proper socialization from a young age is crucial for Cane Corsos to coexist peacefully with cats:
- Puppy Socialization Classes: Enroll your Cane Corso in puppy socialization classes where they can be exposed to different animals, including cats, in a controlled environment.
- Controlled Home Introductions: Introduce your Cane Corso puppy to a cat in a controlled setting at home. Keep the puppy on a leash and allow them to observe the cat from a distance, gradually decreasing the distance as they become more comfortable.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Using positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors:
- Reward-Based Training: Reward your Cane Corso with treats, praise, or playtime whenever they react calmly or indifferently to a cat. This reinforces the idea that good behavior around cats is rewarding.
- Clicker Training: Implement clicker training to mark the exact moment your Cane Corso exhibits appropriate behavior around cats. This precise method helps in faster learning.
Establishing boundaries is key to a harmonious relationship:
- Separate Spaces: Initially, provide separate spaces for your Cane Corso and the cat. This allows both animals to have their own safe haven.
- Teaching the 'Leave It' Command: Train your Cane Corso to respond to the 'leave it' command, which can be invaluable in preventing them from chasing or bothering the cat.
Gradual and Supervised Interactions
Gradually increasing interaction time under supervision:
- Supervised Play Sessions: Start with short, supervised play sessions between your Cane Corso and the cat, gradually increasing the duration as they become more accustomed to each other.
- Observing Body Language: Pay close attention to the body language of both the Cane Corso and the cat during interactions. Any signs of stress or aggression should be addressed immediately by separating them.
Consistent Routine and Obedience Training
Consistency is essential for long-term success:
- Routine Schedule: Keep a consistent routine for both the Cane Corso and the cat. This includes feeding times, playtimes, and walks, to reduce potential stress or conflict.
- Advanced Obedience Training: Engage your Cane Corso in advanced obedience training to strengthen their overall behavior and response to commands, even in distracting situations.
By incorporating these detailed socialization and training tips, Cane Corsos can be effectively taught to live harmoniously with cats.
Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key components in this process.
Understanding Cat Behavior and Its Impact on Cane Corsos
Recognizing Cat Communication Signals
Cats communicate primarily through body language, vocalizations, and behavior. Recognizing these signals is crucial for Cane Corsos:
- Body Language: Cats may arch their back, hiss, or swat as a sign of fear or aggression. It's important for Cane Corsos to learn these signals during socialization to understand when to give space.
- Vocalizations: Understanding different cat sounds, like purring or meowing, can help Cane Corsos gauge a cat's mood.
How Cats Play and Its Influence
Cats often engage in playful behaviors like pouncing or chasing, which can be misinterpreted by Cane Corsos:
- Chase Instinct: Cane Corsos may misinterpret a cat’s playful chase as a cue for a predatory game. Training should focus on helping them understand and respect the cat’s play style.
Creating Mutual Respect
Establishing mutual respect and understanding between these pets is key:
- Respecting Territory: Cats are territorial and may not appreciate a Cane Corso invading their space. Teaching Cane Corsos to respect these boundaries is essential.
- Observing Interaction Dynamics: Owners should closely observe interactions to ensure mutual respect and intervene if necessary.
Understanding cat behavior is vital in shaping a Cane Corso's response and fostering a peaceful coexistence.
With appropriate training and supervision, Cane Corsos can learn to interpret and respect the unique behaviors of their feline companions.
How We Introduced Our Cane Corsos To Cats
We had two cats already living at home, when we brought our first Cane Corso puppy home. This was Maud.
Maud was such a beautiful little Cane Corso puppy, It was hard to imagine her as any kind of threat, but we were aware of the fact that the breed has a tendency toward a strong prey drive, and we were careful to ensure the safety of our cats until such time as it was obvious that a relationship was formed.
It's Best For Cane Corsos To Meet Cats When They Are Puppies
In fact, in this early beginning, Maud was not much bigger than the adult cats herself. Consequently she grew up with the cats always part of her life, and very noticeably always part of our life. Which, as noted above, had a large influence on Maud’s perception and attitude towards the cats as she grew bigger.
That’s not to say that weren’t some anxious moments, And we did not leave the animals together unattended until a recognizable relationship existed.
When Hermie, our second Cane Corso arrived, two years after Maud, we had the same situation, in that he initially presented little danger towards the cats due to his tiny size as a puppy. And then he had the additional guidance of observing Maud’s already established behavior toward the cats, So he fell into line very quickly and easily.
Cane Corsos Can Still Live In Harmony With Cats When They Meet As Adults
A couple of years later, we lost one of our cats.
Sometime after that we got another.
This was Virgil, and he was a young adult rescue cat.
he had been living wild near a restaurant and driving the restaurant owner mad with his panhandling at the tables. To quote a Steven Segall movie (yes, I must), he was marked for death.
So this time, we were bringing a new cat into the home where Maud and Hermie already lived as adult dogs, rather than bringing the dogs in as puppies, when they would more easily assimilate the already-present cats into their life.
We were definitely nervous about bringing Virgil home.
He had spent two weeks in the local kennel living with our remaining cat, Fleur, while we were away, to ensure that they got along, before we brought Virgil home. But he did not know the Cane Corsos, and they did not know him.
Observation And Supervision
So we were back to constantly observing the behavior of all the animals towards each other, once again, until a relationship formed.
We kept them apart for a couple of weeks, until Virgil had a chance to adjust and except his new home.
And we introduced Virgil to each of the Cane Corsos separately, for a brief moment at first, with the Cane Corsos firmly restrained to ensure safety. We did this for a while, extending the time together, always under strict control until, once again, everybody started to relax in each other’s company.
In fact, it was really no more difficult than the initial round of dogs and cats getting to know each other, it just took a little longer. Once again, the Cane Corsos took their lead from the fact that Virgil was clearly our chosen family member.
After a while it became commonplace to see the cats and dogs lying together in close proximity, or being affectionate with one another, And we were slowly able to relax.
Nowadays, they all move freely through the house unattended, And they are all very relaxed in each other’s company.
What We Have Learned About Cane Corsos And Cats
There is a prey drive present in Cane Corsos. But it hasn't been difficult to move them away from that behavior, with a little guidance and some patience.
We would be less nervous about introducing Cane Corsos and cats now, having done it twice.
But that's not to say that we would treat it lightly. We would still have supervised meetings and continue making sure that cats were safe until it became clear that they were forming a relationship, and everyone was becoming comfortable.
Once the Cane Corsos had accepted the cats as family members, we would relax and allow them to become friends.
Even with just our two Cane Corso, you can see differences in behavior, and it is plain that you can't assume all animals will react the same.
Our male Cane Corso, Hermie, is a very gentle soul. He is a little slower on the uptake than his sister, Maud, but once he has learned something, he is very consistent. Maud is a quick learner, but she is a little more independent.
So, although the simple answer to the question is yes, Cane Corsos and cats can indeed live together in harmony, the bigger picture is that we must take into account the breed characteristics of the dogs, and make sure that they are trained to accept the cats as family members.
Cane Corsos And Cats Are Also Individuals
And we must also remember that each animal brings its own temperament and preferences to the mix, in addition to the breed characteristics.
Some dogs are naturally easier with cats, and some cats are naturally easier with dogs.
Your own animals will initially be whatever they are naturally and, eventually your training and your example, and their circumstances will shape their behavior.
Despite their natural prey drive, Cane Corsos are likely to adapt quicker than most.
Yes, Cane Corsos can make for marvelous pets and outstanding family dogs. They are loyal, affectionate and watchful, they have a calm, steady temperament, and they will intuitively follow their owner's lead. They are dedicated to their family and make great companions.
Cane Corsos are notoriously protective towards their owner and their household. They are trainable and also smart family pets, who establish a psychological connection to their owner, which is what makes a unique combination and a terrific pet.