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Do Cairn Terriers Get Along With Cats?

The answer is yes. A cairn terrier gets along well with my cats. Though dogs and cats have always had a strenuous relationship, training the Terrier to get along well with my cats had always forced me to hire very advanced dog trainers. 

Terriers are stubborn and defiant during training, but expert dog trainers can offer the necessary training for it to behave. The best trait about this dog breed is that it coexists with other pets than any other terriers.

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The background of cairn terriers

Cairn terrier is one of the oldest terrier dog breeds. The dog breed originated from Scottish highlands and believed to be one of Scotland’s earliest working dogs. The assertive, active, and fearless dog breed was named cairn since its primary role was to chase quarry between Scotland’s cairns highlands. The aggressive dog breed exists in black, red, wheaten, cream, and Brindle.

Typically, the small in size Cairn terrier breed was mostly used by farmers in Scotland to eliminate vermin. Most households in Scotland needed a more courageous and tough dog to domesticate. In this case, the Cairn terrier remains one of the bravest and fearless dog breeds globally.

Most households in Scotland domesticated the Cairn terrier dog breed due to courage, intelligence, and activeness. To date, the dog breed is one of the most sought dog pets among most households In the world. 

Though most households prefer the dog for domestication, does it get along well with cats? This article spotlights a few scenarios that justify why domesticating the Cairn terrier dog breed doesn’t pose a threat to cats at home.


The Cairn terrier is mostly cheerful, friendly, challenging, and alert. Like any other dog breeds, Cairn terrier enjoys chasing, barking, and digging. It is a fun-loving dog, enjoys playing around with kids, and moving around with family members in the compound. The strange aspect of this breed is that it’s sensitive, especially when scolded.  

The cairn terrier dog breed’s general behavior is influenced by environmental factors, including training and socializing. Like any other pets, the cairn is supposed to be exposed to various environmental influences, including sound, experiences, sights, and many other activities to understand its ecological setting. This helps the dog to cope and adapt to a particular environment.

To ensure this Terrier adopts a particular behavior, it is essential to develop a socialization strategy to learn how to associate and behave in a specific setting. In other words, to ensure this dog gets along with other pets at home, I expose terrier puppies to training for them to learn how to cope with family members from an early stage. This exposure helps them to tolerate everyone around without causing trouble.


The Cairn terrier dog breed can easily be trained to adapt to various family settings. Having kids and other pets in my home forced me to hire an expert dog trainer to easily train the Terrier to coexist with other family members and pets.  

Similarly, to make it easier for my cairn terrier to tolerate other pets around, I ensure training is done at an early stage. On the flip side, I realized training adult terriers is also easier since they quickly get along well with everyone through training. The advantage of this breed is that it likes kids and tolerates noise associated with small kids. Proper training helps cairn get along with everyone in the household. 

Training on how to get along with other family members helps develop a proper relationship with everyone around them. This training means to get along with my cats; I have to train them on how to cope from an early stage. Alternatively, adopting adult cairn terriers is easier than small puppies that may be hard to learn. In this case, they could have inherited some strange traits from their parents, which may only be realized after becoming adults. 

The revelation of negative behavior at an adult stage may make it hard to train these dogs to learn how to get along with other pets. When I opted to adopt a terrier dog breed, I had a few cats in my home. I had to hire a trainer to train them on coping with other pets in my home.

Known for being friendly and tolerant, early training on coping with other pets at home is essential in ensuring all the pets get along well without unnecessary fights. Like any other terrier breeds, they need to offer them training before adopting them.

Behavior concerns

  • They bark a lot. This can only be discouraged at an earlier stage.
  • Most chase away other pets. Upon rebuke and training, they may get along with cats.
  • Often mischievous and bold
  • They like playing and getting along well with children.
  • They are easily trained, though, maybe boring through coming up with new tricks.
  • Stubborn, only pleasing through reward-based training. I.e., giving food
  • They get along with other dogs though some are stubborn.

Being fierce and formidable, cairn terrier is likely to chase away other pets from the homestead. Therefore, it is necessary to provide training to help this breed adjust to the environment. As stipulated above, the dog breeds exhibit various characteristics indicating that it needs close monitoring to help them cope with other pets.

Being stubborn and defiant when called are some aspects that may make it difficult to control other pets’ behavior. With strict training and close monitoring, the Cairn terrier can adapt to get along well with everyone at home.

The strange twist about Cairn terrier is that with proper training to help get along with other cats at home, it may not tolerate cats from outside. This means the dog breed can only tolerate cats within the family and not anywhere outside the home. My Terrier’s behavior chasing away other cats from my compound is a strange twist that has left me to wonder why it develops hostility for cats outside the home but gets along well with my cats. I have to keep on rebuking the Terrier for exhibiting such traits, which makes it wild at times.

 Though friendly and calm in temperament, my kids always land in trouble whenever they try to provoke it. This means adopting a terrier for closer monitoring to curb its mischievous attitude that, at times, changes abruptly. In some instances, following up on their mother’s traits is essential to understand whether it can easily cope with cats. Hereditary factors influence the behavior of a dog at times.


Generally, terriers are trained more differently than other dogs. Just like other terriers, cairns are intelligent and enjoy various training. The only challenge is that contrary to other dog breeds, which are easy to train, I have observed that the majority defy training instructions from most dog trainers I have hired to teach them. The trainers attest that cairn terriers have proved to be stubborn during training compared to other dog breeds. 

Though training terriers may not be difficult, exposing them to harsh training that appears like a punishment may make them defy the training instructions being offered. Ideally, training them needs an expert who fully understands them.

 Terriers were mostly bred to help in hunting small game. This is why most of them tend to chase small animals. Though most households prefer terriers for domestication, some breeds may not get along well with other pets, especially cats. The low attention skills and defiance to training instructions, if not administered properly, make them challenging to handle for domestication. 

Can a terrier kill a cat?

The dog has always viewed cats as prey, judging from history. It will not surprise me to find out that my Terrier has killed my cat even if they may have been brought up together. There is a need to closely monitor their relationship despite the Terrier being regarded as friendly with a calm temperament.

A strained relationship between a dog and a cat may play out when I am not around. This strain can result in a cat being killed. The main advantage of distinguishing a cairn terrier from other dogs is that it can easily cope with other pets around with ease upon training. 

Terriers have  the following  traits

  • Stubborn
  • Hostility  towards  other pets
  • Unpredictable temperament

These traits give a clear picture of a terrier’s character before deciding to own one for domestication. The Cairn terrier exhibits an unpredictable demeanor making it challenging to control. 

Adopting the Terrier to coexist with other pets has always forced me to monitor how it behaves closely. This monitoring has saved me from bad experiences where dogs are known to kill other pets when the owners are not around. At times I have been forced to lock my Terrier to avoid uncertainties associated with its unpredictable behavior.

Opposed to other breeds of terriers, the Cairn terrier has no strong aggression to other animals. With proper training, terriers can comfortably coexist with cats. Do not underestimate the breed for being friendly.

Cairn terriers are fierce fighters. Unfortunately, if a cat starts a fight with a cairn terrier when I am not around, I can bet I won’t find my cat alive. That’s why at times, I lock it up when I am not around.

The cairn is known for short and robust bodies, which is dangerous if provoked. Therefore, regular obedience classes are recommended to learn how to cope with other pets at home. 

Are you planning to adopt a cairn terrier? Are you wondering whether it will create trouble with other pets, especially cats? Take the dog through obedience training and enjoy the great companionship a terrier breed will offer to the family.