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Can Rhodesian Ridgebacks Live With Cats? Important Advice

Can your ridgeback get along well with a cat? This is a surprisingly common question I get a lot. It’s true that certain breeds are better suited to our feline friends, so how do ridgebacks hold up?


Rhodesian ridgebacks are not a breed that naturally gets on well with cats. The two could potentially live together if they were raised together, but under any other circumstances, they would likely struggle to get on well. Extreme caution should be taken.

When Your Ridgeback Could Live With a Cat

For your ridgeback and cat to develop a respectful and friendly relationship, we are limited to the following two scenarios:

When your ridgeback and cat were both raised together from being a puppy and kitten
If you have an existing adult cat and you get a puppy ridgeback

These are the two only scenarios when your ridgeback and cat could develop somewhat of a trusting relationship with each other. And even still, a lot of caution/supervision is required from the beginning.

There have been some owners who have successfully brought in a cat to the household at a later date with an existing adult ridgeback. But this is far and few between and could have taken years of supervision and careful training. The risk is very high in this situation.

Why Ridgebacks Don’t Naturally Get On With Cats

So why is this relationship hard to develop? Two words, prey drive.

Rhodesian ridgebacks have a strong instinctual prey drive that has been developed for hundreds of years (if not longer) while hunting and guarding in wild southern Africa.

It’s literally in their DNA to seek, chase, grab and sometimes even kill wild game. This is known as the universal predation sequence. Instinctual behaviors like this are technically impossible to train against and can never be fully “removed” from your ridgeback.

Now, this isn’t to say that all ridgebacks would always try to kill a cat, but due to the cat’s quick sudden movements, smaller physical size, and different smell, this would at least trigger your ridgeback to automatically start chasing.

Once a chase commences, everything becomes instinctual and there’s no telling how far any ridgeback would go (if he were to catch the cat). Regardless of how “nice and cute” your Rhody is while receiving belly rubs, in wild animalistic moments like this, anything can happen.

This is why Rhodesian ridgebacks are not naturally suited to cats.

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How a Ridgeback Can Successfully Live With a Cat

rhodesian ridgeback living with cat

As I mentioned in the first section, there are two scenarios when this unlikely relationship can actually work.

If you were to raise a puppy ridgeback with a kitten or an existing adult cat, then the puppy will have enough time around the cat from birth, to know that the cat is of equal or higher status than they are (in the pack). And this is essential to stop him from trying to chase/grab/kill the cat.

Ridgebacks, just like most working dogs, are pack animals and rely heavily on a clear hierarchal structure to know their place in the family.

In fact, the only reason your ridgeback listens to you is that you are at the top of the pack.

In order for a harmonious relationship between the ridgeback and cat, the ridgeback must view the cat as equal or preferably higher in status than he is. By raising the two together, this is almost automatically achieved, as the puppy (before they are a physical threat) will learn to view the cat as a sibling, rather than prey.

You can also manufacture this kind of hierarchal system by the following:

Showing affection to your cat in front of your ridgeback
Allowing your cat to eat her food first (the order of who eats is very important in wild hierarchal systems)
Allowing your cat to be physically higher than your ridgeback
Giving treats to your cat first before giving them to your ridgeback

These four things can show your ridgeback that the cat is a valued and well-respected member of the pack.

This isn’t to make your ridgeback feel bad, it’s to establish a solid hierarchy within the home. This is vital, because, at the end of the day, your ridgeback could physically kill your cat, but not the other way around. So he must absolutely respect the cat, like a sibling, or higher.

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Can You Get a Cat If You Have a Ridgeback?

Getting a cat, when you have an existing adult ridgeback at home, is not recommended. Although I’m sure there have been a few successful owners. The risks are extremely high.

Due to your ridgeback’s existing place in the home, any other animal would be considered a threat, and that’s because dogs, especially ridgebacks are territorial animals.

Trying to establish your cat’s place in the home, would prove to be extremely difficult.

Your ridgeback will be a constant threat to your cat and you won’t be able to leave the two without supervision.

You could expect the same response from your ridgeback as you do when he spots a cat outside while on walks (chaos).

Last Thoughts

In some circumstances, a Rhodesian ridgeback could live with a cat. If the two were raised together, or you got your puppy ridgeback after you have an existing cat, with careful training and supervision the two could get along.

Other than that, this relationship is not destined to work out well, and extreme caution should always be taken when your ridgeback gets near a cat.

Are considering getting a ridgeback and a cat? Let me know your thoughts.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.