By Andrew Fischer
How to introduce a Labrador to a cat?
Labradors are known to be very friendly, social and family-oriented dogs.
They usually can get along pretty well with all kinds of animals including cats.
Let’s have a look at some reasons why Labradors can get along with cats and what’s the best way to introduce a Labrador to your cat.
Why Labradors usually get along well with cats?
Not all dog breeds get along with cats, but Labradors are one of the most friendly dog breeds that can get along with all kinds of animals and humans.
Labradors don’t have such a sense of personal space as other dog breeds. They are totally ok to share their personal space/home with a cat.
Labradors are also not as jealous of cats as other dog breeds.
Labradors are also very adaptable and easily trainable. Once your Lab would try to attack a cat you can easily teach him that he can’t get away with such behavior. He will be able to understand pretty quickly what’s allowed and what’s not in your home.
Will my cat like the Labrador?
You will never know for sure whether your cat will like the dog or not.
Luckily for you, there are some signs that your cat may accept the dog.
If your cat is social and like to hang out with humans and other animals, she may also be outgoing with a Labrador. Also, if your cat is calm and doesn’t overreact in surprising situations, she may easily tolerate dog’s barking and other sudden activities.
How to prepare your cat to meet a new Labrador?
There are few things you can do in order to ensure a smooth introduction of your Lab to the household.
First of all you should try to keep your home as peaceful and calm as possible. It’s advisable not to invite too many people for the first few days. It’s always better if you introduce your cat and dog in a calm environment.
Make sure that your Labrador and cat will not invade each other’s personal space. Your Labrador should have a separate dog food, water bowl, toys and place to sleep. Make sure you have all necessary accessories for your pup before you bring him home.
Many cats like to have some space just for themselves. If your cat is one of them, before you bring your Labrador home, prepare a defined space for your cat that your dog cannot get to. High beds or some space accessible only by small slim cats should do.
How to prepare your Labrador to meet a new cat?
Before you bring home a new cat you should make sure that your Labrador is well trained and is responsive to basic commands like “stay” and “leave it”.
Your cat will need its own bed, bowls, food, water, litter box, and even toys. Try to prepare a special room or an isolated bed for your cat where the dog cannot disturb her.
How to introduce a cat to a Labrador?
Keep your dog on a leash when you bring a new cat to the room.
Place your cat on a table where it can see the dog and where the dog cannot reach her. If the cat runs away put her in a carrier facing the dog.
Then offer them some treats while they look at each other.
Repeat this initial meeting few times until they are both relaxed in each other’s presence. Between these initial meetings keep the dog and the cat separated. You should prepare a special room for your cat where the dog cannot go to.
Gradually move the dog closer to the table where your cat is. Every time you move them a bit closer offer them treats. Keep doing so until the dog can almost reach the cat. Then you can start increasing the length of the encounters.
The next step is to unleash your dog completely so it can encounter the cat. At this stage you should make sure that the cat has an escape route or something to climb in case the dog reacts badly. Reward good behaviour. If the encounter doesn’t go well, put the dog on the leash again and repeat the previous step.
The next step is to let the interact freely under your supervision for a short time. Gradually increase the duration of their encounters until you feel they’re ready to live their lives together.
How to introduce a Labrador to a cat?
Maybe in your case it’s the other way around. Maybe you already have a Labrador and you just bought a new cat.
The process of introducing your pets to each other in this case doesn’t differ much from what’s written above.
Just like described above, your cat will need a special place where it can hide, a place which the dog cannot access. The best and easiest way to this is by using a small cat door.
Before you introduce your new Lab to the cat you should exercise your dog so he is nicely tired and relaxed.
Keep your new pup on a leash, if the cat is present. Allow your cat to roam free around the house while your Lab remains leashed sitting at your side. Offer them treats for good behaviour.
Once both of your pets show calm behaviour in the presence of each other, you can move to the next step and unleash your dog. Keep the unleashed encounters short at first and be ready to intervene if necessary. Reward good behaviour.
Soon you should find that they no longer need your supervision.
Proper Labrador training
You should start training your Labrador as soon as you bring him home, or even before if you can.
Some Labradors may be quite clumsy, wild, and uncontrollable around cats. An untrained Labrador may be quite stressful to cats.
Younger Labrador puppies are usually easier to train than older dogs. If you have a young puppy you should be able to train them pretty quickly to behave correctly in the presence of cats.
What kind of Labrador should you buy if you have a cat
In general Labrador puppies are the best option for cat owners. Your cat may feel intimidated if you bring home a fully grown 60 lb Labrador. Young Labrador puppies are not much bigger than adult cats so your cat will feel more confident and comfortable.
Young puppies are also much easier to train and to get adapted to live with cats.
If you insist on getting an older Labrador, it would be a great idea to get one that already has some experience with cats, other dogs or other animals. Managers of dog shelters can sometimes give you information about the dog’s background.
Also, cats love a calm environment. You should try to find a Labrador that has a rather calm temperament, Such a dog could be a better fit for your cat. Too energetic and wild Labradors may stress your cat.
What to do if my Labrador and cat don't get along
Some cats need a longer time to get used to the new family member.
If they seem to fight with each other, it’s recommended to slow down the adaptation process. Limit the amount of time they spend together. Once they start fighting separate them. Slowly build up the time of their interaction.
Avoid leaving your dog and cat alone if they had some recent fighting history. You can leave them alone only when you are sure that they will get along well when you are absent.
Although the process of adaptation may take few weeks, your cat and Labrador should eventually get used to each other.