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How Good Is a Cocker Spaniel With Cats? Introduction Tips & Tricks

Written by: Jeff Weishaupt

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

cocker spaniel with cat under sheets

How Good Is a Cocker Spaniel With Cats? Introduction Tips & Tricks

Cocker Spaniels are a popular breed of dog known for being friendly and affectionate. If you’re a cat owner hoping to adopt a Cocker Spaniel, you may wonder how well the two will get along.

As a general answer, Cocker Spaniels can easily accept another furry member under the right conditions but it’s impossible to predict the exact relationship between two individual animals. Still, understanding their typical behaviors can help you make an informed decision.

Today, we’ll explore the characteristics of Cocker Spaniels and cats and what to expect when introducing them. We’ve also included tips for fostering a positive relationship between the two.

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Cocker Spaniels and Cats: What to Expect

Cocker Spaniels can generally get along well with cats under the right circumstances. Still, each animal has its own unique personality. So, there’s no guarantee that any two animals will get along perfectly.

These dogs typically interact with cats in a friendly and curious manner. They may approach a cat with a wagging tail and attempt to sniff or lick them. Cocker Spaniels are generally not too aggressive towards cats and may even try to play with them.

But you must remember that they were first bred as hunting dogs. So, they have an instinct to chase small animals, including cats. This means some Cocker Spaniels may be more inclined to potentially harm your cats.

You must also keep in mind that each animal is unique, and their behavior towards each other depends on their personalities and experiences. Some Cocker Spaniels may be more inclined to get along with cats and show little interest in chasing them. Meanwhile, others may need more time and effort to develop a good relationship.

When introducing a Cocker Spaniel to a cat, take things slow and ensure both animals feel safe. This may involve keeping them separated at first. Then, you may gradually allow them to spend more time together under supervision.

Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock


The 8 Tips for Introducing a Cocker Spaniel to Cats

When introducing a Cocker Spaniel to a cat, you must take steps to ensure peaceful coexistence. Here are some tips to help owners prevent conflict between their Cocker Spaniel and cat:

1. Start Slowly

Introducing a new dog to the household can be an exciting time. But taking things slow is vital to ensure a smooth transition for all involved. Start in a controlled environment where you can watch their interactions closely.

One way to do this is to introduce them in a small room with a gate or a separate area of your home. This can help prevent any sudden movements that could startle either animal. You can also supervise their interactions by keeping them on a leash or using a baby gate to separate them.

When your Cocker Spaniel and cat are first introduced, allow them to sniff each other and get used to them. You can do this by placing their food bowls on opposite sides of the gate or in separate room areas. This will allow them to get used to each other’s presence without feeling intimidated.

2. Start with Scent-Swapping

Scent-swapping is a crucial first step when introducing a Cocker Spaniel to a cat. It allows each animal to become familiar with the other’s scent before they meet in person. This can help reduce any fear or anxiety they may feel when they finally come face-to-face.

To start scent-swapping, rub a clean towel on your Cocker Spaniel. Pay particular attention to its neck, back, and tail, where its scent is most concentrated. Then, place the towel near your cat’s sleeping area or somewhere they spend a lot of time.

Allow your cat to sniff the towel and become familiar with your Cocker Spaniel’s scent. You can also do the reverse and rub a towel on your cat and place it near your Cocker Spaniel’s sleeping area. This will familiarize your Cocker Spaniel with your cat’s scent.

Repeat this process three or four times for a few days. This way, your pets have ample opportunity to become familiar with each other’s scent. It will reduce any fear or anxiety they may feel when meeting in person.

Image By: Magui RF, Shutterstock

3. Supervise Interactions

Supervising your Cocker Spaniel and cat’s interactions will ensure they can coexist peacefully. When your pets are in the same room, keeping a close eye on them is essential. Also, be alert for any signs of aggression or over-excitement.

Aggression can manifest as growling, hissing, barking, or swatting. Over-excitement can also be a concern, as it can cause your Cocker Spaniel to chase or pounce on your cat. This will inevitably make your cat feel threatened or scared.

You must separate your pets immediately if you notice any of these behaviors. This can prevent any potential conflicts and ensure both animals’ safety. You can do this by separating them with a baby gate or placing them in different rooms.

It’s also important to know your Cocker Spaniel’s prey drive. As a hunting breed, your Cocker Spaniel may chase after small animals, including cats. If you notice this behavior, work on training and socialization to help your dog overcome its instincts.

4. Give Each Animal Their Own Space

Providing each animal with its own space helps ensure they can coexist peacefully. When animals share a space, territorial issues can arise, leading to conflict and stress. Giving each pet their own space can provide them with a haven to retreat if they feel overwhelmed or stressed.

One way to provide separate spaces is to assign specific rooms or areas of the house for each animal. For example, you can set up a cozy bed and toys for your cat in a spare room. Meanwhile, your Cocker Spaniel has a crate or a bed in the living room or another area of the house. This will prevent territorial disputes and give each pet a place to enjoy some alone time.

cocker spaniel and cat lying on floor
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

5. Provide Plenty of Resources

Ensuring each animal has separate food and water bowls, toys, and bedding can prevent resource guarding. More importantly, it promotes peaceful coexistence between your Cocker Spaniel and cat.

Resource guarding occurs when an animal perceives a particular resource as valuable. So, it attempts to prevent other animals from accessing it. This can cause conflict and tension between your pets and may lead to aggression.

To prevent resource guarding, provide each animal with its own set of resources. That includes separate food and water bowls, as well as different toys and bedding. As a result, they’ll feel free from the need to compete with the other animal for access.

You should also feed your pets in separate areas of the house. This prevents any competition or aggression during mealtime. You may feed your Cocker Spaniel in one room and your cat in another or use a pet feeder to dispense food at specific times for each animal.

6. Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to promote coexistence between your pets. By rewarding your pets for calm and friendly behavior, you encourage them to build a positive association with each other.

One of the best ways to use positive reinforcement is through treats. When you see your Cocker Spaniel and cat interacting well, reward each with a small treat. So, they’ll associate good behavior with treats and continue to act friendly to each other.

Besides treats, you can also use praise and playtime as rewards for good behavior. Whenever you see your pets interacting calmly, offer them lots of verbal praise. You can also engage them in a fun play session to reinforce such interactions.

7. Be Patient

Allowing your pets to approach each other at their own pace is also crucial. This can help prevent fear, anxiety, and aggression from either pet. Each pet has a unique personality, so they may not immediately become best friends.

To help ease the introduction, keep your Cocker Spaniel on a leash and your cat in a separate room. Allow your Cocker Spaniel to sniff the room and become familiar with your cat’s scent. Meanwhile, let your cat sniff around your Cocker Spaniel’s bedding and toys.

Even if your pets don’t become instant friends, it doesn’t mean they can’t coexist in peace. Give them enough time to get used to each other and continue supervising their interactions. Over time, they may learn to tolerate each other or even become friends and play together.

8. Seek Professional Help

If your Cocker Spaniel and cat are still struggling to get along, seek help from a professional trainer or behaviorist. A trainer or behaviorist can help identify any underlying issues behind this struggle. They can also develop a personalized plan to help your pets learn to get along.

For example, a behaviorist may recommend desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques. That involves introducing the pets inside a controlled environment and rewarding them for good behavior. A trainer may also work with you to develop a reward-based training plan.

Cocker Spaniel walking with trainer
Image By: Katrina_S, Pixabay



Cocker Spaniels and cats can get along nicely under the right circumstances. Understanding their behaviors can help foster a positive bond between the two.

It’s crucial to remember that every animal is unique. While some Cocker Spaniels may be more inclined to bond with cats, others may need more time and effort.

Being patient and proactive in your approach gives your Cocker Spaniel and cat the best chance at a harmonious coexistence.

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Featured Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

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