Are Labrador Retrievers Good With Cats?

re Labrador Retrievers good with Cats Kitten

If you own a Labrador and are considering adding a cat, or vise versa, you are not alone. But are Labrador Retrievers good with cats?

Contrary to what Hollywood has portrayed, cats and dogs can live in harmony. Become educated on your dog breed and be patient when introducing new pets to your home. 

Are Labrador Retrievers Good with Cats?

Labrador Retrievers are typically happy-go-lucky dogs that can create amicable, even loving, relationships with cats.  Although Labrador Retrievers are much larger than cats, they are known for their easy-going personalities making them a perfect fit for multi-animal homes.

This gentle sweet breed is eager to make new friends, including cats. You just need to make sure you follow the steps below to ensure your pets co-habitate in a peaceful, loving relationship.

Labrador Retriever Companions

Are Labrador Retrievers good with Cats Kitten

There are many things to consider before you bring two pets together. It is important to prepare your current pet, as well as making sure to select the right one to bring into the home.

Pet Preparation

Introducing a cat, or another dog, into your Labrador’s home will be more successful if the dog was properly trained as a puppy.

When training a Labrador Retriever puppy, expose the puppy to different people, animals, and places. Ideally, these introductions should take place between the ages of seven weeks and four.

Furthermore, proper introductions at an early age will help the Labrador become the sweet, sensible family dog you desire.

Selecting the Right Companion

If you are considering adding a cat to your Labrador’s life, or introducing a Labrador Retriever to your cat, follow this advice from South Boston Animal Hospital to create new furry friends.

History of the Pet: Has the cat peacefully lived with dogs? Has the Labrador Retriever previously been introduced to cats? Coexisting will be an easier transition if the pet has prior positive experiences with other pets.

Personality: Like people, cats and dogs have their own distinct personalities. Pets that prefer to be alone may have difficulties blending into a family with another pet. When introducing a new cat or dog to your household, playful personalities may cohabit well with other social pets.

Similar Habits: If your Labrador Retriever enjoys basking in the afternoon sun, look for a cat with similar tendencies. Animals with similar habits tend to live in harmony just like humans.

Consider Age: Many people believe that adding a puppy or kitten will “perk-up” an older pet. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. An older cat established in your home may not appreciate the youthful energy of a puppy. However, if you already have a lab, consider adding a kitten rather than an adult cat as kittens are much more adaptable to new environments than older cats.

Welcoming a puppy and kitten into your home at the same time works well for some families. The pets have no prior “bad experiences” and will develop a bond as they grow together.

Labrador Retriever and Cat Coexisting

Labrador Retrievers good with cats

It is very possible to Labrador Retrievers and cats to peacefully live together. The transition will be smoother with proper attention paid to introductions and living arrangements.

New Pet Introductions

Introducing a new pet to your household can be stressful for the resident pet, as well as for the new pet. Mitigate stress to the animals by following these simple guidelines.

Introduce on Neutral Territory: Dogs naturally have a tendency to protect their home and may be threatened by a new pet, especially a cat entering their home. If adopting a cat from a local rescue, take your Labrador Retriever along. Allow pets time to meet each another.  You can also introduce your pets at your neighbor’s home.

Allow for Scent Exchange: Labrador Retrievers are natural hunters with a strong sense of smell. They will acknowledge the presence of a cat before ever seeing it. To protect the cat and dog and ease anxiety, allow them to exist in the home together without seeing one another. This may mean keeping the pets in separate rooms for a day. Once both animals have smelled and sensed each other, slowly allow them to interact.

Create Private Sanctuaries: The Labrador Retriever and cat in your life need their own private space during the acclimation process. Your Labrador’s bed and toys should be kept in a separate space from the cat’s scratching post. Place food and water bowls in separate locations to prevent clashes.

Monitor for Signs of Stress: As your pets are acclimated to one another and new living quarters, closely monitor for signs of stress. If either pet shows signs of aggression, immediately separate them. Pay close attention to body language. Cat and dogs will have raised hair along their backs or may emit vocal cues when stressed. It is also important to monitored that both pets are eating well.

Create a Safe Haven

After your pets have been introduced to one another, it is important to ensure that each pet feels safe and comfortable in the home. Here is some additional advice to prompt a peaceful existence of a dog and cat in your home.

Show Equal Attention: While it may be tempting to shower the new pet with love and attention, do not neglect the resident pet. Spend quality time with your cat and Labrador Retriever in each of their respective spaces. Once each pet is comfortable, playtime can occur in a neutral location.

Use a Leash: The size of a Labrador Retriever may be intimidating to a cat. Your friendly loveable Labrador will likely not be aware of his size. Use a leash on both pets during joint play time. If either animal becomes aggressive, use the leash to limit movements. Exhibit a cool, calm tone when speaking to both pets.

Litterbox Location: After your cat and Labrador Retriever are comfortable living in a joint space, you can move food and water bowls to a neutral location. The litterbox should remain in the cat’s safe space. Cats that feel threatened while using the litterbox will resort to relieving themselves in other spots of your home. Additionally, dogs, even smart Labrador Retrievers, may try to eat the contents of the litterbox.

Clipped claws: Make sure that everyone has well trimmed nails. Because your labrador is so much bigger than your cat, your cat may feel the need to defend themselves (I find my cats don’t enjoy being laid on by my dogs). Although the cat may be justified in swiping at the pup, if the claws are clipped no real damage is done.


Every pet owner wants their animal and human family to coexist peacefully. Carefully select the Labrador Retriever and cat that will be living together. Slowing introduce them to each other. Establish a safe space for each pet. Then, be patient.

Labrador Retrievers are good with cats. Affection between pets cannot be forced though. As such, continue to love your cat and Labrador Retriever and allow their relationship to grow organically.

For more tips on how you can train your Labrador be sure to visit our article on How to Train Your Labrador Retriever.

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, DACT is a veterinarian and the President of Labrador Retriever Society. She is a specialist in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of vets and scientists are working to develop new medications for pets.

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