Labradoodles are a mix of the most easy-going and friendly dog breeds—Labradors and Poodles. For this reason, they make fantastic family pets as they’re almost always great with kids. But how well do Labradoodles fit into households with other pets? If you’re a multi-pet, multi-species household, you’ll be happy to hear that Labradoodles generally get along just fine with other dogs and, yes, even cats.
Read on to learn more about raising Labradoodles and cats in the same household.
Do Labradoodles Get Along With Cats?
Labradoodles can absolutely get along with cats. Labrador Retrievers and Poodles are laidback and easy-going breeds, so they can learn to live alongside your feline family members under the right circumstances. However, there are always outliers, and not every Labradoodle that’s ever existed will have the right temperament to live harmoniously with cats under the same roof.
To increase your chances of successfully raising both Labradoodles and cats is to introduce them in a slow, intentional, and controlled way to make both animals comfortable with one another.
The 3 Situations for Introducing Labradoodles and Cats
There are different ways to introduce your two pets, depending on the situation at hand. Let’s take a look at the three possible situations you may be facing as you adopt a Labradoodle into a cat-friendly household.
1. Adding a Labradoodle puppy to a family with an existing cat.
The introductory period needs to be slow and controlled if you’re adopting a Labradoodle puppy with no previous interaction with cats into a home with an existing cat. Your kitty will be the one struggling with this transition as your new puppy will likely have little to no problem socializing with other animals at a young age.
2. Adding an adult Labradoodle to a family with an existing cat.
Many adult Labradoodles won’t have a problem learning to get along with cats; however, it really depends on their upbringing. Has it lived with other cats before, or has it had negative experiences with cats in the past?
Your cat is likely to have a bigger problem with an adult dog than a puppy, not only because this new animal is invading its territory but because of the Labradoodles’ size. You’ll also need to consider your cat’s experience with dogs. Has it lived with pups in the past or had negative run-ins with them?
Have realistic expectations here. If your cat is ten years old and has had the house to itself its entire life, it may have problems learning to share its territory to the point where it may never accept your Labradoodle as part of its family.
3. Adopting both the Labradoodle and cat at the same time.
Puppies and cats introduced into a family together from birth can often live harmoniously with each other simply because they view one another as an extension of their own litter. Keep in mind that your Labradoodle will grow much faster than your kitten and can inadvertently inflict harm on your kitty if it gets too rowdy during a case of the zoomies.
How to Introduce Your Cat and Labradoodle
Now that you know a bit more about what to expect from your cat and Labradoodle when you introduce the two, let’s look at some tips for making the introductory period as seamless as possible.
1. Keep Them Apart
Do not begin the introduction process until your new pet has had a chance to become accustomed to its home. Your Labradoodle should be kept in a room where it cannot see the cat and vice versa.
2. Introduce Scents
You may feed your pets on each side of the door to help them associate something enjoyable (food) with each other’s scent. Be careful not to place the dishes too close to the door so that they become upset by the other’s presence.
As time goes on, you can begin moving the dishes closer to the door until they can eat calmly right outside of the closed door. Once they can successfully eat that close in proximity, prop the door open with a door stop on both sides so they can see each other but not actively reach one another in case one reacts aggressively.
You can also introduce scents by bringing your dog’s blanket into your cat’s space and vice versa. Every time your pet acts curiously towards the new scent, reward it with praise and treats. If there is an aggressive reaction (e.g., a growl or hiss), remove the scent from the situation and divert your pet’s attention to something positive. Do not punish your pet for reacting in such a way as this is a normal and natural behavior.
This introductory period can take several days or weeks, so be patient.
3. Introduce the Space to Your New Pet
Several times a day, allow your Labradoodle to explore its new home without the resident cat around. Confine your kitty to a room and let the dog walk around and sniff its new space. You can then let your kitty explore the dog’s room without it present, but we don’t recommend confining it in this space in case the scent overload becomes too overwhelming.
4. Let Them See One Another
Once your pets are used to the other’s scent and sounds, you can allow them to see each other. This needs to be done carefully and intentionally to keep both pets safe. Use a baby gate to keep them in separate rooms and put your dog on a leash.
If the interactions result in fearful or aggressive behaviors, remove the animals from one another at once. You can expect mild forms of such behaviors at first but do not give them a chance to intensify as they can be difficult to change down the line. It’s best to separate your pets if they start displaying such behaviors and try again later.
5. Give Each Pet a Sanctuary
Once your animals have been fully introduced to one another, each will need a space in your home that’s strictly theirs at first. This is especially true if you’re bringing a Labradoodle into a home that was previously 100% your cat’s space. In this case, your kitty will need a dog-free sanctuary that contains its litter box, scratching post, toys, and water and food bowls. In the same breath, your puppy may be frightened of your cat, especially if your kitty is less than welcoming to its new family member. Your pup will need a space to call its own, with its food and water bowls, bed, and toys, too.
6. Monitor Every Interaction
Never leave pets new to one another alone for any length of time as both animals can do significant harm to one another.
Labradoodles have a natural hunting instinct from their Labrador Retriever side that can make them instinctively want to chase your cat around.
Cats, on the other hand, have sharp claws that can inflict much damage if provoked. In addition, they can be highly territorial and won’t be afraid to attack your dog if it gets in its space.
It’s especially important to keep a close eye on initial interactions if your cat is a kitten. Kittens are much smaller than dogs—even puppies—and can be killed by a young and energetic dog.
7. Use Positive Reinforcement
Every time your cat or Labradoodle have positive interactions with one another, reward them immediately. Punishment is never the answer. If your dog is punished whenever it’s around your other pet, it will form negative associations with the cat and may redirect aggression toward it.
A Labradoodle and a cat can learn to live harmoniously with one another, but the introductory period needs to be gradual and intentional. The time it takes your two pets to get used to each other’s presence will depend on several factors—including how long your kitty has lived alone—if either pet has experience living with the other species and each animal’s personality traits.
Though most Labradoodles are easy-going and friendly toward cats, you may have adopted the outlier that can’t stand them. Sometimes animals can’t get along no matter how slow and controlled the introduction period was. If the introduction doesn’t go smoothly, seek help from the professional as soon as possible. The longer you let the problems fester, the harder it’ll be to resolve them.
Featured Image Credit: Kastaprav, Shutterstock