Golden Retrievers are considered by many, including myself, to be the perfect family pet. They are gentle, social, smart, loyal, loving and caring. However, they are often not the only family pets.
The story of dog and cat is as old as time, and despite how Cartoons may have depicted them over the years, the question is still a very valid one and deserves to be asked.
Are Golden Retrievers good with cats? Yes, Golden Retrievers are good with cats. Golden Retrievers don’t have the hunting, predatory, or territorial instincts of other dogs which makes them wonderful with smaller animals like cats. Given they’re well trained & socialized, Golden Retrievers make for perfect companions for cats.
But why exactly are golden retrievers good with cats and other small animals? What makes golden retrievers a great choice for multi-pet households and how can you introduce your golden to your cat and make sure they get off on the right foot?
These are all very good questions, so let’s answer them one by one.
Golden Retrievers With Cats
Golden Retrievers are the friendliest dog breed there is, so it’s not a surprise they are great with cats and small animals. However, there are some very specific traits that make golden retrievers perfect companions to cats.
5 Reasons Why Golden Retrievers are Great with Cats
Here are 5 Reasons why Golden Retrievers are great with cats.
Goldens are very gentle by nature
Golden Retrievers are gentle animals by their nature. They were bred to retrieve game for hunters who often went on hunting trips with other hunters who would have some family members with them, servants, horses, and other dogs.
So, they bred the Golden to be gentle with everyone and this line of selective breeding is still going on until today. Breeders know that people are looking for super gentle golden retrievers to have around their children, so they breed the gentlest retrievers more to reinforce this trait in them.
Goldens Don’t have hunting instincts
Unlike other dogs, the instincts of hunting in Golden Retrievers is a very weak one, and with training at a young age, it’s almost eliminated in some dogs.
This means that Goldens don’t see smaller animals as prey, rather as tiny friends. This change in perception is why few golden retrievers would indulge in chasing small animals like rats or squirrels in the backyard, or in out case, cats.
However, they still possess this instinct, and in some dogs, it’s much more prevalent than in other dogs. I discussed this more before, feel free to check it in the post; Will a Golden Retriever Kill a Coyote? and how to protect them.
Golden Retrievers are Very eager to please
Golden Retrievers are fiercely loyal and loving animals. They are always ready and willing to do anything to please their humans. When you smile and pet them for being good and gentle with the cat, they will keep doing it because it pleases you.
Goldens are also very smart, and they are quickly able to pick up on whatever is making you happy, so you don’t even need to work hard on making it obvious to them. Just show your cat affection and reward them for doing the same thing and they will pick up on what you want.
Golden Retrievers love and need companionship
Goldens are very social animals who love companionship a bit more than other dogs. They don’t only love companionship, but they actually need it.
So it makes sense for them to like cats as they make for good companions. They are also left together at home while we go to work, so they do spend a lot of time together to get to know each other and become friendly.
Goldens are very patient
You can say whatever you want about cat owners, but owning and understanding a cat requires a good deal of patience.
Goldens are also very patient. They can take the time to understand the cat’s craziness and find out how to deal with this moody, quick-to-action animal.
Being able to sit by their side for hours without doing anything in order to gain their trust is not something that any dog can easily do, but golden retrievers will quickly figure out that this is how the cat prefers to deal with others, so they will do it with grace and patience.
How to Introduce a Golden Retriever to a Cat?
First impressions last. The same thing applies here. You want to make the introduction in the best way possible to put them on the right foot.
The first question to ask; when should you introduce your dog to your cat? The best age to introduce a dog to a cat is when they’re three- to 12 weeks of age. That’s when puppies are most sensitive to socialization, and the best time to safely expose your dog to new animals and pets like cats. For Cats, their sensitive socialization period is between two to seven weeks old.
Now, how can you safely introduce your dog and cat to each other? I’m going to make this simple by breaking it into 7 steps you can follow easily.
7 Steps to Introduce dog and cat safely to each other.
You can safely introduce any dog to a cat in 7 simple steps. Thankfully, having a Golden or a Labrador will make these steps go much easier and more quickly.
- Prepare Well.
- Your cat and dog both need access to zones free and safe from the other one. You can have designate rooms where the cat can only come in and others where the dog can only come in.
- These safe spaces much have a secure door and a roof.
- They must include everything they need including food and water bowls, toys, and a litter box for the cat. (check out the pro tip after the steps list for more on that)
- They must be safe spaces, don’t leave any cords, chocolate, or any other hazards lying around.
- Introduce them from a safe distance.
- IFor the first 3 or 4 days, don’t let them come in direct contact.
- After both are checked by the vet and are cleared of any illnesses, they can come in direct contact.
- They should be able to get used to the presence of each other. You can keep them separated by a clear plastic door if you want but they should be able to see, smell, and hear each other.
- Feed them on the opposite sides of a closed-door
- This helps them associate the presence of each other with pleasant things like food. You can also give them treats when they are sitting peacefully close to each other for the same effect.
- Gradually, move their food bowls closer to the closed door until they are both eating calmly right next to the door.
- Make sure the dog knows his basic commands
- Your dog by now should be trained on basic commands like sit, stay, and down. If not, now is the time to train them. You want to have the ability to control the interactions with just your words in the next step.
- Introduce them face-to-face.
- The introductions should be done in a common area of the house, not their dedicated rooms.
- Keep the introductions short, calm, and brief to not stress either of them.
- Keep the dog on a leash by your side and let the cat free to come and go as he wishes, however, don’t restrain your dog if they’re already calm.
- Ask the dog to sit and reward them with a treat. This will help them calm down more and associate the cat’s presence with tasty treats.
- If your cat comes close and stays calm, reward them with a treat as well.
- If either of them shows irritation or aggression, calmly distract and redirect them. You can distract the dog by calling their name and giving them a treat when they redirect their attention to you, for the cat, simply throw a treat on the other side of the room or outside the room completely.
- Return each of them to their dedicated rooms.
- Repeat this session on a daily basis
- Repeat daily and always end up the session before either of them shows aggression, irritation, or stress.
- With time, they should be more comfortable with each other and you should be able to trust their friendliness with each other.
- Allow them loose
- When they start getting along well, let the dog’s leash off your hand but keep the leash on them.
- If tensions rise, distract them and take each to their areas.
- If all is well, you can let both around the house freely but try to keep an eye on them at all times. For extra safety, keep them separated when you’re not around.
Check out this excellent and affordable cat tunnel on Amazon.
For dogs, you can check out our recommended dogs and houses for goldens and labradors here.
5 Mistakes to avoid when introducing dogs and cats
There are some mistakes that people usually do when they’re introducing their dog and cat to each other, and in order for you to avoid doing the same mistakes when introducing your golden to your cat, you should definitely know about them.
Here are the 5 commons mistakes people do when introducing dog and cat.
- Not Having dedicated safe spots
- Your dog needs a cat-free space and your cat needs a dog-safe space. They need places to go to where they know the other can’t follow them there.
- This safe space also must have everything they need to stay in it for hours until they feel safe to come out.
- Rushing the introduction
- Your cat and dog need time to get to know each other and trust each other. Rushing the introduction can result in aggression.
- Focusing only on the dog.
- Some dog owners assume that the larger, stronger dog will be their only source of problems.
- Both can stir troubles, and in my experience, cats are much more likely to be aggressive with dogs. Cats are excellent hunters and have more confidence in themselves than dogs do, which makes them more likely to be bullies than dogs. They can show aggression just to scare the dog away even if the dog doesn’t do anything to provoke this aggression.
- Letting them loose too early.
- You should let them loose only when you’re confident they are 100% comfortable with each other’s presence and are very unlikely to show aggression towards each other.
- Letting them loose too early can lead to chases around the house and one of them can get injured.
- Showering only one with affection
- Although cats seem to not care about our affection, cats are actually quite territorial and can get easily jealous of the dog when you shower the puppy with affection and ignore the cat.
- Needless to say, the same can go the other way around. Showing the cat too much affection and ignoring the dog will not result in any good. Balance your affection, as difficult as it may be to do.
6 warning Signs that your dog and cat don’t like each other
No matter how friendly your dog and your cat are, there is always a chance that they will not like each other. In order to make sure no one gets hurt, and nothing in the house gets broken, you need to be able to spot the signs early to intervene.
Here are 6 warning signs to watch out for:
- Your dog is barking, whining, or growling.
- The dog doesn’t lift the eye from the cat, watching its every movement with intense focus. This is a sign they’re potentially seeing the cat as prey and waiting for a chance to pounce.
- The dog is snarling at the cat.
- If the cat’s hissing or yowling.
- If the cat’s tail is moving nervously back and forth.
- If the cat’s ears are pinned back, eyes wide, or back arched upwards.
If you see these signs, it means that you need to intervene. But what to do now?
What to do if your cat and dog don’t like each other?
If you have gone through the steps and you were able to spot the signs that the dog and cat are not liking each other, here is what to do;
- Separate them again.
- The first step is to separate the two once more and make sure they each have their own safe space once more.
- Find out if the issue is something else
- Something else may have been bothering the cat or dog other than the other animal. If the dog keeps growling or the cat keeps hissing even after separation, this could be caused by something else like a medical issue.
- If the issue is indeed something else, solve it and then re-introduce them to each other.
- Follow the 7-step-introduction process again
- Try to do it more slowly this time. Really take your time and pay attention to every sign. Maybe something, in particular, your dog does bothers your cat or maybe it’s something that the cat does. Whatever it is, try to pay attention to find out and train them to quit this behavior.
- If you fail again, seek help.
- Find a professional dog trainer to help out.
5 Signs Your Dog and Cat have become friends
There are many signs that can tell you that your dog and cat have become friends. You should also be aware that dogs and cats have completely different love languages, and they will each show love in their own unique way.
However, here are 5 signs that are very easy to spot.
- They snuggle together
- Snuggling together shows that they both have complete trust in the other that they will not harm them when they’re defenseless and vulnerable. It’s the best sign they can give you.
- They play together.
- Playing together is another great sign that they are getting along well and can both understand and anticipate the moves and intentions of each other.
- They like spending time close to each other.
- Cats really like their alone time, so if they’re spending a lot of time in the same area as the dog or close to them, it shows they’ve become quite comfortable with the dog’s presence.
- They calm each other down
- If you notice your dog or cat comes to the other’s aid when they’re stressed or irritated, they are supporting each other and calming each other down. This kind of moral support is very important and is most commonly seen in a vet’s hospital.
- They feel empathy for each other
- Do you know how your dog will come to your side and stay with you when you’re sad? This is your dog showing empathy, but cats also have empathy, it’s just rarer for them to show it. If they show it to each other, it means they love each other and can feel what the other is feeling.
Why is My Golden Retriever Chasing my Cat?
Your golden could be chasing the cat as playing or as a prey, and you can tell by how your cat’s body language and form of running. If the cat is trying to hide or showing signs of aggression, then it’s not a form of play and you should stop the chase.
Golden retrievers are still dogs, and they have hunting and herding instincts, and if they see the cat as prey, they will b tempted to chase it. If this happens, you should immediately step in by redirecting your dog’s attention by asking them to sit, stay, or stop it.
Are Golden Retrievers Good with Chicken?
Goldens are likely to be good with chicken as they don’t have strong prey drive. Golden Retrievers are less likely to harm the chicken, and it’s more likely they’ll try to play with them which may get your dog hurt if the chicken is aggressive.
Are Labrador Retrievers Good with Cats?
Labradors are good with cats just like Golden Retrievers. They don’t have strong prey drive and are friendly and gentle by nature, which makes them a great addition to a household with cats.
Make sure to check the steps mentioned above to introduce your dog to your cat safely.