I own a labrador that is loved by everybody at my home. It’s playful and intelligent. Everything was fine until my daughter asked to adopt a cat as well. This made me think that whether our family canine would welcome his feline partner? I had this predator-prey relation in mind that cats and dogs had. And this was freaking me out. After doing my research, to much of your surprise, I bought a kitty!
This is what I found:
So, do Labradors get along with cats? Yes, they can. Labradors are the gentle and smart breed that can be easily taught to live with a cat at the same place. The cat should also welcome the friendly behavior of your lab. It’d be great if your labrador and cat has got similar temperament, mood, and social behaviors.
After this, I was all set to buy a cat for my daughter. I also dug in to know what are the characteristics which should be seen in both pets so that they can get along easily.
Keep reading if you’re wondering what are the factors that help Labradors and cats live together in peace? What are the things you can do to make them best buddies? And how to arrange their first-ever meeting?
Do Labradors get along with cats?
Yes, Labrador retrievers can make your pet kitty his friend easily. You just have to train them to do so.
Labrador retrievers are naturally friendly and gentle. They are not hunters that want to follow and catch a running prey. Labs are just taught to retrieve a prey that is already being hunted. Having said that, dogs are natural predators so there is a chance that your lab might want to chase that furry cat.
So, you have to train your labrador with patience and consistency. Labradors love to make their owners happy. They’d do anything to be the best pet. For that matter, they learn quickly and adapt your behavior easily. If you’re good and friendly with your feline, then labs will be gentle around the cat to please you.
Labrador retrievers are of two types- the American Labrador retriever and the English Labrador retreiver. They both go through different development stages and thus have different behavior.
Let’s look into the two types of labs and do both get along with cats?
Are American labs good with cats?
American Labradors are active and playful in all stages of their lives. Their puppyhood passes quickly and they reach maturity at an early age.
Even after they’re mature, they still want to play and run around. They don’t like to sit, lay down or sleep for too long.
So, American labs will play with your cat also if they’re trained well. If your cat is also playful, the American lab would love to be with her all the time.
But if your cat is not that active and wants to sit quite often then it would be difficult for both of them once the cat is also mature. Because as a kitty it might be active and frisky but once it gets old, it doesn’t want to run around anymore. That’s when your energetic American lab can get aggressive.
So, the crux is that the American lab should be trained to be less aggressive and more compassionate. Your cat should also have similar traits (active and playful) and should be trained well so that both can live together in a peaceful way.
Are English labs good with cats?
English labrador retrievers have longer puppyhood. They are playful and energetic when they’re puppies. But once they reach maturity, they like to linger on their couch all day.
If trained, English labs will live with a cat in a peaceful way. When a puppy, it will play with the cat but once old, it will prefer to sit and watch the cat. That’s an added benefit as it would not bother the cat in any way (mostly).
But if your cat is very playful and energetic and your lab has reached maturity, then it would be difficult for both of them to live together in harmony.
So, if you have an English lab then choose a kitten that’s not very frisky. It might be not a good idea to make an active kitten and a senior English lab to live together, as a kitten will chew and bite anything and everything, including your lab!
Do all cats get along with labs?
So, let’s discuss conversely also. As we’ve discussed that labs can live happily with a cat but do your cat also wants to live with a dog?
Cats are usually friendly and welcoming. They can be trained to live with a labrador easily. But cats usually want more space and want to live independently.
So, make sure you make a nice house for your cat where she can go and have some me-time.
Also, not all cats are good with labs. Choose a cat that’s similar in behavior with your labrador. Only then both can be trained to live in peace.
The traits in labrador that make them cat’s buddies:
Labradors are affectionate. They look big to a cat but once the cat feels his love and playfulness, it just forgets about its size.
Wondering what makes labs that affectionate towards cats? Here you go.
Labradors are bred to “retrieve”. Not to chase and kill. So, they’re naturally friendly and giving.
Certain dog breeds cannot stand cats. These include dogs belonging to the Herding group, Hounds group, and terriers. They have a natural instinct to chase and kill this running prey.
Your dog’s level of socialism also plays a great part. Labradors are socially reasonable and they love to live with people around them.
If trained, they also learn to live with a cat. They can share their space with your feline companion happily. Labradors are very social and this makes it easier for you to train them to live with a cat.
The more intelligent your dog is, the more quickly it will learn not to harm your pet cat.
Labradors are very intelligent and smart. They are trained to retrieve prey so they are intelligent. They know what to do and when to do. You just have to give them training and a demonstration.
Last but not least, you have to train your labrador to live with your cat in harmony.
Labradors are intelligent and that’s why their training is not a big deal. They can be trained to live, play, and even have a meal with your cat at the same table!
The best age to introduce your labrador and cat:
Ideally, a puppy lab should be introduced to a kitten and an adult lab should be introduced to a senior cat.
Having said that, it’s not a hard and fast rule. You can train both of your pets to live together at any age. But the ideal cases are mentioned above.
A puppy and a kitten both love to run around and play. So, they can be trained to play together. Also, it’s easy to introduce both of them to each other when they’re young. They’ll accept each other more quickly and will develop a habit to live together in the future also.
A puppy and a senior cat might not make it together as puppy labs love to play around. They’ll bother your cat and they’ll not want to live in the same space.
Likewise, your senior lab will not most likely love your furry and active kitty. The kittens run and play around. They also scratch things and once they teeth, they can also bite your lab. So, both will not like to share their space happily.
How to arrange the first meeting between your lab and cat?
When you’ve bought a cat, considering it the best match for your lab based on their common traits, then it’s time to introduce them to each other.
The first meeting should be in a place which is new for both of them. Make sure that the first meeting lasts for only a few minutes. See the reaction of your lab and then arrange another meeting within a few hours.
You can allow them to play once they recognize each other as friends. This will take two to three weeks at maximum.
Methods to introduce a new cat to your labrador:
It’s just like you set a meeting if two children who aren’t that willing to meet. So, you do some tricks and try to indulge them in one common activity. In this way, they see each other’s positive things, play around, and in best cases, they both become friends of one another.
That’s what you can do to make your labrador and cat good friends. But the strategies you follow should not spoil their respective privacies. Just keep the focus on the way they welcome the other one. If this welcoming gesture is positive and warm then go for the next step and make them friends!
Also, note that all this is not very simple and easy. You have to train both of your pets and it takes days and weeks of consistent training. Only then you should expect your canine and feline follow to be good companions.
Below are two methods that you can adopt to introduce your new cat to your lab.
The tabletop method:
This method is based on the concept that the cat perceives everything well when it sees it from above.
So, there are four stages of this method and you have to jump to the next stage once your pets behave well in the previous one.
You can always go back to the previous stage of you feel that any of your pet is not comfortable yet.
So, the stages go like this.
Table and crate- The first step is to find a room in your home which is spacious and has escape routes. Find a table and a crate.
Place your labrador in the crate but assure him that it’s not a punishment. Then place your cat on the table. Hold it if it’s not sitting on the table. Give your pets lots of treats and just allow your cat to see the lab and your lab see the cat.
Don’t go any further and repeat this stage several times. Make sure they are comfortable enough to move to the next stage.
Leash the lab- Now remove the crate and leash your lab. Bring it in the room while the cat sits on the table.
Give them lots of treats and just allow them to see each other.
Notice any signs of aggression or discomfort. Repeat this stage several times.
Unleash the labrador- As you guessed it, the next stage is to unleash your lab. Make him see the cat. Allow him to come closer to the cat. The cat should still be on the table.
Make sure there are escape routes for the cat. This stage should be supervised and see how both are perceiving each other.
Unsupervised meeting- The last stage is to arrange a meeting, unsupervised. This meet should be very short. There should be enough escape routes for the cat.
If this meeting goes well then arrange another one but now increase the meeting time. If they both give positive signals then congrats, your cat and dog are friends now.
The “dinner for two” method:
This method uses your lab’s love for food to introduce your pet cat. The steps are:
Blind dinner date- Arrange the meals on opposite sides of the room so that your lab and cat can’t see each other.
They will associate each other’s smell with that of their food and will create a sense of affection.
Cat and dog facing each other- Your cat should be in a crate, full of treats and your dog should be leashed.
Both should enjoy meals without any stress. Only then head to the next step.
Remove cat’s crate- once cat and dog both are comfortable, facing each other, then Remove the crate and allow the cat to eat freely.
Unleash the dog- now is the time to unleash your dog and both can enjoy their meals freely!
All of this will take time with several trial and errors. It’s not simple and you’ve to be consistent.
The Bottom line:
If you are a fan of both Labradors and cats then here’s good news for you-Labradors are gentle and intelligent so they can get along a cat very well. You just have to train both of them with the methods mentioned above and then you will have an adorable pair of a family canine and a family feline, living in the same space, happily.