Perhaps you own a Golden Retriever and now you are thinking of getting a cat. Or maybe it is the other way around – you have a cat and you are planning on getting a Golden Retriever. It is natural to be wary of the idea of owning a cat and a dog. Due in large part to popular culture, many people believe that having a cat and dog inside the same home is a recipe for trouble, but it is not necessarily so.
Are Golden Retrievers good with cats?
Generally speaking, yes the golden retrievers are good with cats, and other pets. The Golden Retriever’s outgoing personality and intelligence make it a good addition to just about any household, including those that have cats.
1. Golden Retrievers make excellent cuddling companions
Although the Golden Retriever has earned a reputation as an energetic and playful breed, it does love to lounge around from time to time. The breed can also be surprisingly warm and friendly toward other animals.
And he will readily sidle up to your cat, especially when the weather is particularly chilly.
2. Golden Retrievers love to please their humans
Aside from innate intelligence, a Golden Retriever is easy to train because he likes to please his humans. But what does that have to do with living with a cat?
A lot. For one, it makes it easier for you to teach your retriever to behave properly when interacting with the cat. Through positive reinforcement, the dog learns how you want him to conduct himself when the cat is around.
A retriever is also keenly attuned to his humans that he can easily understand that a cat is a member of the family and not prey.
3. Golden Retrievers are not excessive barkers
Cats have a highly-developed hearing. Their ears are so sensitive that loud noises like barks can overwhelm them.
That will not be a problem with a Golden Retriever. Although the breed does not bark, it will not bark for no apparent reason.
4. Golden Retrievers are friendly
Year in, year out, the Golden Retriever consistently ranks as one of the most popular dog breeds.
One of the reasons behind that is the dog’s temperament. The retriever is one of the friendliest dogs that you will find. They enjoy the company of children and with proper training and introduction, even cats.
Golden Retriever personality
One of the reasons why a Golden Retriever makes a perfect companion to your cat is his personality.
Playful yet affectionate and even-tempered, the Golden Retriever is a welcome addition to just about any home, including those that have feline residents. However, the Golden Retrievers thrive in a household where there are plenty of opportunities to exercise.
Originally bred as a hunting companion, the Golden Retriever is an excellent swimmer who is attentive to the needs of his master. But at home, the dog is content lounging around with his family as long as he is exercised regularly.
The combination of the breed’s innate need to please his humans along with its intelligence makes it highly-trainable.
Furthermore, the Golden Retriever is not a watchdog. That means that you and your cat will not be bothered by incessant barking. But from time to time, the dog will tell you if someone is approaching.
Will the Golden Retriever chase the cat?
Although Golden Retrievers can live peacefully with cats, it is still possible that your pet dog will chase the cat.
A lot of that has to do with your dog being, well, a dog. Through selective breeding, a lot of the qualities of your dog’s ancestors have been removed. However, modern dogs still retain a few of their instincts, including hunting.
Although your Golden Retriever can be friendly with the cat, your dog still has his prey drive or the instinct to hunt. In the wild, this instinct is vital for survival.
A Golden Retriever’s prey drive is triggered both by scent and movement. The drive to chase can be further compounded if your dog does not get enough exercise. His pent-up energy can make him more likely to chase your cat.
But when a Golden Retriever chases a cat, there is no malice involved. The breed is not known for being aggressive. Most likely, your dog is chasing the cat because he wants to play.
Through proper training and socialization, you can teach your retriever not to chase the cat around.
Should you get the Golden Retriever or the cat first?
Ideally, you should get a puppy and kitten at the same time. When your pets are young, their instincts and personalities are not fully-formed. Your puppy does not see the kitten as prey but rather as a playmate.
Furthermore, both pets will not see each other as intruders to their territories. When they grow together, they will see each other as members of the same family and accept each other’s quirks.
If it is not possible to get a cat and a retriever at the same time, the next best option is to get the dog first. Puppies can be a handful, especially when they are young. They need more attention from their humans. Getting a Golden Retriever puppy first will allow you to shower him with the attention he needs.
Furthermore, getting the retriever first allows you to have enough time to train and socialize him. By the time you get a cat, your dog is more or less ready for the new member of the family.
But if you already own a cat before getting a Golden Retriever, it is still possible for the two to get along just fine. However, you will need to exert more effort in introducing and socializing your two pets.
Introducing your pets to one another
Meeting another pet can be stressful for the resident animal. As such, you should never allow your cat and dog to meet each other immediately.
Instead, start by introducing your pets to each other’s scent. This will help the resident pet and your new one get acquainted with each other without seeing one another. Keep both animals separate for at least one day.
After a few days, introduce the two animals by keeping them separated but visible to one another. You can use a baby gate or keep one of the animals inside the crate. Monitor the behavior of each animal and watch out for signs of aggression.
Keep the first session quick. If the two do not show signs of aggression, repeat this step while increasing the time the animals spend together. Continue this for a couple of days. If one shows aggression, repeat from the start.
Once a few days have passed, you can let both animals interact with one another. Ideally, this should be done in a room with plenty of escape routes for the cat.
Keep the dog on the leash while allowing the cat to roam freely. Encourage the two by praising them and offering treats.
Creating a hospitable environment for your pets
Although you can train and socialize your pets to be congenial to one another, it is critical to create a hospitable environment for both of them.
One of the most important things that you can do is to set aside time to play and care for each pet. Make sure that you spend at least one hour walking and playing with your Golden Retriever. Your cat also needs to exercise his mind and body to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.
If you want the two pets to play with each other, keep the dog on a leash. This will allow you to keep things under control if the retriever gets overly excited or aggressive.
Make sure that your cat’s litter box and food and water bowls are located in a separate location from the dog’s. This will help your feline to feel safe and secure while eating or using his litter box.
Golden Retrievers are perfect for your cat
The Golden Retriever is the perfect candidate if you want a home with a cat and a dog. Loyal, intelligent, and friendly, you cannot ask for a better canine companion for your cat.
Image: istockphoto.com / chendongshan