Are Labs Good With Cats: Mortal Enemies Or Best Friends?

Many people in the US have cats, but many have dogs as well. Because the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the US, many people wonder are Labs good with cats.

Labrador Retrievers are the best breed of dog to introduce to your cat. Their calm and friendly nature makes them easier to socialize with other animals. But there are rules when introducing cats and dogs. If you mess up, things might get nasty.

Cats And Dogs: The Eternal Enemies

The cats vs dogs rivalry is one that everyone knows. The cat’s presence and movement often trigger dogs so they start chasing the cat. This is the same for any breed as well as Labradors and cats.

Dogs are natural hunters and it is in their nature to chase after anything that moves. No matter if that is a ball you threw, a squirrel foraging for food, or a cat running away.

Cats are also natural hunters, but they tend to avoid confrontation whenever possible. This means if a cat sees a dog as big as a full grown Labrador, it would choose to run away instead of fight back.

So, no, dogs and cats don’t hate each other, it’s rather their natural instincts that may cause some chasing and confrontation.

Why Can Labradors Be Good With Cats

Here are some Labrador traits that make it easier for a Labrador retriever and a cat to live together.

They Are Gentle Dogs

Labradors are gentle dogs and this makes them a great family pet. But they are also great hunting dogs to have around. They were bred for retrieving birds after they’ve been shot, so they are very cautious to not bite hard and damage the bird. This can be useful when dealing with other pets like cats, so when they play they don’t hurt each other.

They Aim To Please

Labradors like to please their owners and will often wait for approval instead of doing something to upset their owners. This makes it easier to introduce a cat to your home. Labradors and Cats may end up getting along simply due to the fact that the Lab wants to please the owner. It will see that the owner is accepting of the other animal, so the Lab will follow through.

They Are Very Sociable

Labradors are known for their friendly behavior. They are curious about other people and animals and will try to play around. But if you don’t socialize your dog early on, this may end up causing some anxiety when dealing with other unknown people. Make sure to have your dog meet other people and animals early on to ensure they are as friendly as they are known to be.

How To Introduce A Lab To A Cat

There are a few things to look out for when you are introducing your Labrador and cat.

Calm Both Animals

Make sure to walk and exercise your Labrador before the meeting. They can get quite anxious if they haven’t had their daily walk. Dogs will not get tired of barking when they are angsty. Also, make sure it gets its food before meeting the cat. A fed and content dog is more likely to remain calm when meeting a new cat.

If you are bringing a new Lab to your home that already has a cat, make sure to put the cat in a separate room during the first few days. This way you let your Lab adjust to your new home before meeting all members of the family.

Provide A Quiet Environment

When introducing a Cat and a Lab, make sure the environment you are in is quiet and calm. Too much noise can make both pets anxious and this may result in negative behavior

Make sure you are in a neutral location where both animals don’t claim any territory. This will make it easier to avoid any territorial instincts in both the cat and the dog. You can choose a kitchen or a large bathroom that is big enough so it doesn’t get crowded.

Be There To Supervise

In order to know how to make Labradors and cats get along, you need to be there for the first meeting. Leaving the pets alone and letting the “figure it out” is not a good idea.

The Labrador needs to see that the pet owner is fine with having the cat around so it won’t start chasing it out as an intruder. The Lab can also get too excited at the cat so the owner should be there to discipline and prevent negative behavior.

Give The Cat High Ground

Cats love to observe and look around from a high point. You can put your cat on the table or on a cat tower so you create a bigger distance between it and the Labrador. You will create a safe environment for them to observe each other.

Never hold the cat in your hands. It will get angsty and start scratching and moving around which will end up in an injury.

Leash The Dog

A leashed Labrador retriever and a cat are much safer being around each other the first time they meet. It might seem unfair to have your dog on a leash and your cat roaming free, but it’s always safety first.

Having your Lab on a leash makes it easier to discipline negative behavior and you will have more control of the situation. In time, when the animals get to know each other better, the leash will come off.

Give The Cat Room To Escape

Give enough space and room that the cat knows it is in a safe space. Choose a larger room with a few options to run out from. Keep the doors open if the cat chooses to stop the interaction.

Don’t force anything on the animals. Let them decide if it’s the right time to meet, or if they are not comfortable enough. You can try again at another time.

Introducing Your Pets In Different Situations

sleepy black labrador retriever laying on the bed

Are labs good with cats when they are younger or older? Well, a younger and an older pup, or kitten are much different from each other so special steps must be taken for each interaction.

Introducing A Lab Puppy To A Kitten

Having both your pets grow up together is a great way to form a long-lasting friendship between them. They can get used to their scents and play together. Just make sure that you are there to supervise.

Before the meeting, you can put something with the scent of your kitten next to your pup, and vice versa. This will make it easier to adjust to each other’s scents before the official meeting.

Introducing A Lab Puppy To An Adult Cat

If you want to know how to introduce your cat to a Labrador puppy, you need to follow these steps. Firstly, a puppy is way more energetic than an adult cat, so you should be there to not let it annoy the cat too much.

Calm, feed, and exercise your pup before the meeting. You should let your cat have something with your puppy’s scent before the meeting. This way it will be familiar with the smell and is less likely to react aggressively. Also, make sure both pets have their own separate places to rest.

Introducing An Adult Labrador To A Kitten

So are Labradors good with cats that are still in the kitten phase? Well, they can be but you have to be extra careful. The young kittens are small and fragile animals and they might get easily spooked by the big Labrador. 

Make sure to let your Labrador have something with the kitten’s scent before the meeting so it will get familiar with that scent. Monitor their interaction and have your Labrador calm and on a leash beforehand. Try to find a place for your kitten to climb up when it feels too overwhelmed by the dog.

Introducing An Adult Labrador To An Adult Cat

Labradors and cats are much calmer when they are older. If you have each one trained properly you won’t have too much of a problem during the meeting. The problem is the territorial disputes that will occur.

Both of these animals are territorial and will be disturbed if an unknown visitor enters their territory. To prevent this, let them get used to each other scents and follow all the aforementioned steps.

white kitten looking upside down

Signs Your Pet Are Not Getting Along

It’s hard to accept that your two loving pets don’t like each other. But that is a possibility when you have a cat and a dog in the same room. The important thing is to notice the signs early and prevent further complications in their relationship.

Signs From Your Labrador

Are Labs good with cats? Yes, but sometimes they just won’t be able to accept each other. If your Labrador is not happy with your cat, you might notice some symptoms. 

Your Labrador will get stiff and start to bark aggressively at your cat. It might whine whenever the cat is near or start staring at it intensely. Your dog might start eating less, have problems with relieving itself, start urinating on everything, or lose interest in playing with its toys.

Signs From Your Cat

If you have a cat and a Lab that don’t like each other, you will notice the signs in your cat as well.

It will start hissing and yowling at the dog, with its back arched and ears pinned back. It will start having unusual behavior like excessive hiding, a loss of appetite, and a lack of interest to play with its toys. The cat won’t be able to relieve itself properly and start urinating on everything.

What To Do If Your Beloved Pets Don’t Get Along

It is hard to accept, but sometimes your pets will simply not get along. If you want to know how to make Labradors and cats get along in this situation, you need to try these things. 

You need to be patient and try reintroducing them a few times to see if it could work. Be present and supervise their interactions to see what goes wrong. Try to stop the negative behaviors by using a water spray, but don’t let the situation get too tense.

If this doesn’t work, seek professional help. Get a dog or a cat trainer and let them help you introduce your pets. Dogs are usually easier to train, especially the Labrador Retriever. You can give valerian root to your dog to calm it down before the official meeting.

If simply nothing works, consider separating your pets. It might be hard to say goodbye to a loving pet, but it’s better than putting them in danger with each other. Keep this solution as a last resort.

Conclusion – Are Labs Good With Cats?

Even if dogs and cats are known as mortal enemies, this opinion is not true. Labradors are very friendly and intelligent dogs, and they can make long-lasting relationships with your cat.

Your job when introducing your pets is to provide an environment that is calm enough to let the pets get used to each other. Whenever you need to introduce your pets, keeping safety and positive energy is a high priority.

If your cat and Lab do not get along, be sure to notice the signs early on. This way you can act sufficiently to prevent any further complications in their relationship.


Do dogs get jealous of cats?

Yes, a recent study showed that dogs can get upset when you are showing your cat more love and they will try to show you that. You will notice your dog jumping on you, getting aggressive, or start peeing everywhere.

What are the worst dog breeds for cats?

There are some dog breeds that have their hunting instinct activated when they see a cat. A few of these are the Beagle, Greyhound, American Pit Bull Terrier, Samoyed, Scottish Deerhound, Shih Tzu, and others.

Will a Labrador kill a cat?

Whenever you think about “are Labs good with cats?”, you might assume the worst can happen. Labradors are generally friendly and intelligent dogs so killing a cat is very unusual. However, they are big dogs, and in some unwanted circumstances, the worst thing is always a possibility.

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