Can a Labrador Retriever and Cat Be Friends?
Many households include dogs and cats, with the pets co-existing peacefully. However, some dogs do not get along with cats, which can cause difficulties with a new cat.
The dog’s breed may often be a factor for owners to consider if they want to add a cat.
In households where there is already a cat and the dog is a newcomer, these considerations are also a factor. Careful introductions are the key to peaceful relationships between pets of mixed species in any household.
Will a Labrador and cat get along? Yes, with guidance from and supervision by their owner.
What Should Owners Know About Labradors?
According to Stephanie Gibeault of the AKC, Sporting Group dogs that include the Labrador Retriever, have naturally friendly personalities.
Labradors have a reputation for being gentle that most of them live up to very well. Most lack the strong prey drive seen in some other breeds that often causes conflict between the two animals.
A Labrador Retriever is a dog that has a high intelligence level, helping him or she learns not to bother a cat fairly quickly. They also have a strong desire to please their owners.
According to The Nest writer Anne Woods, a retriever is more inclined to try to fetch a cat by picking it up than intentionally harming it.
However, a dog the size of a Lab could inadvertently hurt a cat with this behavior. Preventing injuries or worse is one reason pet owners need to make sure the pets are properly introduced.
What Do Labrador and Cat Owners Need to Consider?
According to Labrador Training Headquarters, 37 to 47% of American homes own dogs, while 30 to 37% own cats.
These numbers likely overlap, with many households having both pets. However, many who have either a cat or a dog doubt whether both animals can get along.
The good news is that a good-natured dog like a Labrador will usually get along well with a cat.
This AnimalWised YouTube video highlights how easy these introductions can be.
Regardless of whether the cat or dog is the first one in the home, there are some principles that apply in keeping everything as harmonious as possible.
A Labrador Retriever is usually an easygoing dog, but both pets will need adjustment time.
Proper introductions are necessary to ensure that neither pet feels threatened by the presence of the other.
The Labrador needs to be able to understand and follow basic commands to help make the introductions easier.
How Should I Keep the Cat Safe?
Although most Labradors are gentle dogs, they are very energetic, often chasing cats when they are not accustomed to them.
Making sure a dog understands commands such as “stay” or “leave it” will help eliminate many potential problems before they begin.
Everything the cat needs to feel secure should be in one area, such as a cat condo, litterbox, toys, and food.
If possible, this space should be a separate room that can be used if the introduction doesn’t go well. Any other areas where the cat wanders should also have an escape route.
Even if both of them seem to get along well, a separate space for the cat is a good idea. All pes have times when they require their own space and having this space available prevents many disputes that might arise between the pets.
What Other Precautions Should I Take?
Keeping the feeding areas separate is a good idea. One, because a Labrador might help his or her self to the cat’s food at will. The cat might not get enough to eat, and the dog won’t meet their nutritional needs through cat food.
Two, some dogs have food aggression issues that could be triggered if they start eating the cat’s food and the cat tries to intervene.
Such disputes could cause serious cat injuries, so are best avoided by keeping each pet away from the other’s food.
The litterbox should be left in a location where it is inaccessible to the dog. Cat litter is not only unsanitary for a dog to eat, but the dog’s scent can discourage the cat from using its box.
A cat will keep using the litterbox if he or she feels comfortable with its location. Keeping both the litterbox and cat’s food out of the dog’s reach will help keep both animals happy.
How to Introduce the Labrador and Cat
Giving the dog some exercise and making sure he or she has had something to eat is a good idea before the introductions. If the dog is calm, he or she will be more likely to obey commands.
The cat should be confined to a room with a closed door for half an hour, so the dog can get used to the cat’s scent without visual contact. Reacting with curiosity instead of excitement is always preferable.
Next, the dog should be confined to a room with a closed door for a short time. Taking this step will give your cat an opportunity to become accustomed to the cat’s smell.
Both animals can start spending time in the same room with the dog leashed. If the dog gets too inquisitive, most cats will respond with hissing, growling or swatting, all of which are good deterrents.
According to The Cat Site, Labradors are very tolerant dogs. Because of this, defensive behavior from a cat is not as likely to spur aggression in the dog.
Is There a Way to Keep the Peace?
Once the two pets have gotten used to each other, they may safely interact with less supervision. There are a few things that are key to keeping everything peaceful between the pets.
One thing that an owner can do is have a cat tower where the cat can escape if the dog becomes too excitable. High places help give cats a sense of security.
A pet gate is an effective way to keep the dog out of the cat’s private space. Most baby gates are constructed in a way that allows a cat to jump over them easily. With precautions and necessary adjustments, Labradors and cats can be friends.
The Loving Your Lab site recommends positive reinforcement methods for both pets to encourage calm behavior.