Are Golden Retrievers Good with Cats?

Golden retrievers are considered one of the best breeds of dogs that you can own. They can assume many roles, including service dogs for the disabled, family dogs, search and rescue dogs, and bird dogs.

Their disposition is known to be friendly, playful, trustworthy, and cheerful which is why they are so versatile.

The fact that golden retrievers are good with people makes them a popular choice for dog lovers.  But what about other animals?  Are golden retrievers good with cats?  Golden retrievers are good with cats, but you must know the pet’s personalities and introduce them to each other properly.  

It is not a good idea to just “throw them in together.” Just as golden retrievers are known for their temperaments, so are cats known for theirs.

Both animals need time and space to learn about each other, and in most cases, it all works out. There are always exceptions, but generally, the pets become accustomed to their place in the family.

The Golden Retriever Personality

All dogs have instinctive behavior – behavior that is innate to their breed.  For example, you should not expect a golden retriever to act as a guard dog. This is more the nature of a German shepherd.

Golden retrievers are known to be even-tempered, which is why they tend to get along well with children and other pets.

Although playful, they know how to be gentle when necessary. Of course, breeding and environment can play a part in a dog’s personality, but generally, the nature of a golden retriever is easygoing.

Cat Personalities

Cats can be unpredictable. We have all heard the stereotypes of independent, feisty, territorial felines. Scientists at the University of South Australia published a report in 2017 called the Feline Five traits.

The report was based on a study conducted with 2,802 cats and concluded that the five dominant cat traits are:

  • Skittishness
  • Outgoingness
  • Spontaneity
  • Dominance
  • Friendliness

Cats have many more facets to their personalities than dogs.

Personality Testing for Your Golden Retriever

One way of determining if your golden retriever will get along with your cat is to administer a personality test.

You may have heard of the Myer-Briggs and Birkman Workplace Behavior and Occupational personality tests for people.  Similarly, you can test your dog’s personality.

What a Personality Test will Indicate

A personality test will help you determine if a golden retriever is a good fit for your family, especially if you have children and other pets such as cats.  One test used by many professional dog breeders is the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test.

Jack and Wendy Volhard are internationally recognized dog trainers who have contributed over 30 years to the health, nutrition, and training of dogs worldwide.

They developed a personality test for dogs to help assess how they look at the world, their temperaments, and their personalities.

Keep in mind that these tests are for house dogs or pets in an enriched environment. Dogs kept in kennels or tied up do not have as much opportunity to express the same behaviors as house dogs.

The Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT)

The Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) consists of ten tests which help create a personality profile for a puppy. Dog behaviors are divided into three categories, known as drives. The number of behaviors a dog exhibits in each drive helps assess its personality.

The three drives are:

  • Prey drive
  • Pack drive
  • Defense drive
Prey Drive Pack Drive Defense Drive
 

Associated with

Hunting

Killing Prey

Eating

 

Being part of a pack

Social hierarchy

 

Survival

Self-preservation

 

Stimulated by

Sound

Smell

Motion

 

Rank order in the social hierarchy

 

Fight or flight

 

 

Behaviors

Shaking

Ripping apart

High-pitched barking

Jumping up

Chasing

Burying

Digging

Playing with other dogs

Reproductive behavior

Licking

Washing ears

Mounting

Golden retrievers score high in the prey and pack drive, but lower in the defense drive because of their gentle nature.  These behaviors can often be redirected during training.

For example, this dog breed loves to run, jump, and chase things like squirrels, cats, and fast-moving objects.

In order to maintain balance and socialization skills with other animals, the chasing behavior can be turned into a game of fetch.

The Ten Tests That Makeup PAT and How to Administer Them

The following tests should be administered consecutively and in order.  Each test is scored separately on a scale from 1-6.

Social Attraction

Measures how confident or dependent the puppy is, and how easily it connects with people. The owner should place the puppy in the test area approximately four feet away from the tester, then leave the test area.

The tester will then kneel down and encourage the puppy to come to him or her by gently hand-clapping, calling and coaxing. Do not reach for the puppy; allow it to come to you.

Following

Measures the puppy’s willingness to follow.  Stand up and slowly walk away while encouraging your puppy to follow. Make sure the puppy sees you walk away and get it to focus on you by verbal encouragement or light hand clapping.

Restraint

Measures the level of submissive and dominant tendencies, and how well the puppy handles itself in difficult situations.

Gently hold the puppy down on its back for approximately 30 seconds.  Do not apply too much pressure. The objective is to observe how the puppy responds to being in that situation.

Social Dominance

Measures how a puppy responds to being socially dominated by a person. Will the puppy walk away or try to dominate?

Elevation

Measures the degree of dominance acceptance while in a position of no control. An example of this is when the dog is being groomed or at the veterinarian’s office.

Cradle the puppy with both hands while supporting it under the chest.  Gently lift it about 2 feet off the ground and hold for 30 seconds.

Retrieving

Measures how willing the puppy is to do something for you. This test is also an indicator of how easy or difficult it will be to train the puppy. Crouch next to the puppy and get its attention with a crumpled piece of paper.

Touch Sensitivity

Measures how sensitive the puppy is to touch, and an indicator of what training equipment is needed. Find the webbing on one of the puppy’s front paws and gently press it between your index finger and thumb. Gently increase the pressure until the puppy shows signs of discomfort or pulls away.

Sound Sensitivity

Measures how sensitive the puppy is to sounds like thunderstorms or loud noises. Place the puppy in the middle of the testing area and have someone stand on the perimeter and make sharp noises like banging on a metal pan with a metal spoon.

Sight Sensitivity

Measures the level of response to moving objects such as children, bicycles, or squirrels. Place the puppy in the center of the testing area. Tie a string around a towel and move it around across the floor approximately 2 feet from the puppy.

Stability

Measures the puppy’s startle response to strange objects. Place an open umbrella in the middle of the test area and watch how the puppy reacts to it.

Ground Rules for Testing

There are a few ground rules for testing puppy personalities:

  1. If testing more than one puppy, test them separately.
  2. It is better if the puppy is not familiar with the tester. Ideally, there should be a tester and a scorer. No one else should be present in the testing area.
  3. The scorer should be positioned so that he or she can observe but not distract the puppy.
  4. Puppies should be tested before they are fed.
  5. Do not test a puppy that is not feeling well.
  6. Test the puppy in a location that is unfamiliar. This could be in a part of your home that they are not familiar with.
  7. Do not test a puppy on the day of or the day after vaccination.
  8. The initial response is the only one that counts.

Golden Retriever Puppies and Kittens

The fact that personality testing is best done when dogs are puppies is an indication that it is much easier to introduce your golden retriever and cat when they are young, if possible. This is because neither has become territorial yet, they are not set in their ways, and they are still easily trainable.

The best age for testing your puppy is at 49 days when it has the brain of an adult dog and is considered neurologically complete.

If the dog and cat are raised together, they often develop a bond and may even become protective of one another.

Introducing Golden Retrievers and Cats as Adults

This may prove to be a little more challenging. The main thing to remember is to give your pets their space. Don’t try to force them on each other.

Many owners say that “cats’ rule,” but it may just be that golden retrievers are easygoing and allow cats to have their moments.

However, do not mistake your golden retriever’s easygoing nature for “I’m just going to accept anything this cat dishes out!” These pets may learn to live together in harmony, but there is a strong possibility that you might have to endure some scuffles, hissing, growling, and plenty of sniffing first!

Tips for Introducing Your Golden Retriever to Your Cat

So, you have had your dog for some time and decide to add a cat to the mix, or vice versa.  Here are some helpful tips to make that transition as smooth as possible.

Know Your Pets

Of course, a pet can always do something unpredictable just as people do.  But, for the most part, you know your pet.

If you have a cat, you know if it is ornery at times or when it doesn’t want to be bothered.  If you have a golden retriever, you know if it is playful and gets overly excited by certain things.

They Need Their Space

It is a good idea to keep your dog and cat in separate spaces until they become accustomed to each other. One of the first things they will notice is the scent of the other pet.

You will see them sniffing the air quite a bit and listening to the sounds whether it’s whining, barking or meowing.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Pets

When introducing an adult dog to a cat, be sure to maintain control of the dog at first. The dog is naturally larger and can easily hurt the cat if it decides it does not like something the cat is doing.

It is recommended that you use a leash on the dog in the beginning stage, and definitely do not leave the dog and cat alone with each other.

Do Not Corner the Cat

It is easy for a cat to feel threatened if it feels cornered. Do not hold the cat when introducing your dog. Allow it plenty of room and space to jump up on something if it feels the need to. Sometimes the cat might want to observe from a safe place initially.

Do Not Make Assumptions

Although golden retrievers are considered great pets and service dogs, do not make assumptions regarding how they will behave around your cat.

They are animals with animal instincts. There is no guarantee that your dog will get along with your cat. However, they may learn to tolerate one another as long as they don’t cross each other’s boundaries.

The good news is that there are many households where Golden retrievers and cats live together in harmony. Good planning and observation of your pets are key.

Caring for Your Golden Retriever and Your Cat

The way you care for your dog and cat can affect their moods. Proper care will certainly add to happier and healthier pets, which will result in improved dispositions.

Protect the Well Being of Your Golden Retriever

The following four areas are essential to caring for your Golden retriever:

Feeding

  • Select high-quality food.  Some companies produce breed-specific food.
  • Be sure that meat is listed as one of the first two ingredients. Dogs are carnivores, and meats are an important source of nutrition.
  • Choose age-appropriate food. Puppies should not eat the same food as older dogs
  • Develop a consistent feeding schedule. Puppies should eat four times a day. Older dogs only need to be fed once a day
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water. Use stainless steel rather than plastic or ceramic because it is more durable and holds fewer bacteria.
  • Provide plenty of healthy treats as golden retrievers tend to become obese.

Grooming

  • Brush your dog’s coat every day. Golden retrievers are known for their long, lustrous coats that need to be groomed consistently.
  • Use a natural bristle brush. A greyhound comb or wire-bristle brush will help with tangles.
  • Look for lumps, scabs, and cysts which can easily hide under the dog’s coat.
  • Golden retrievers have floppy ears so inspect them regularly.  Wrap a damp piece of gauze around your finger and wipe inside of the dog’s ear and ear flap.  Never use a cotton swab.

Entertainment

  • Remember, this dog breed is very energetic, and loves to jump and play. Walk them for at least 20-30 minutes twice a day.
  • Develop a regular playtime with your dog. They love to play games like the chase and fetch.
  • Golden retrievers are great at swimming, so allow them to enjoy a lake or pool sometimes.
  • Provide plenty of toys that will stimulate your dog and increase problem-solving skills.

Training

  • When your puppy has to go to the bathroom, take it outside to the same spot each time.
  • Do not yell or hit your dog.
  • Make a space indoors for the dog to use the bathroom in case you are not home, and an emergency arises. Use newspapers or puppy pads.
  • Use a crate for training but never for punishment. The crate should be a safe space.
  • Teach basic commands using praise, treats, and affection when commands are followed.

Protect the Well Being of Your Cat

Cats tend to be easier to care for than dogs. They are more independent and can be left alone at times. Here are some tips to help you care for your cat.

Feeding

  • Similar to your dog, it is good to purchase high-quality food for your cat
  • Provide fresh, clean water daily
  • Taurine is an essential amino acid required by cats for eye and heart health. Balanced food will contain this ingredient.
  • Treats should not take up more than 5-10% of the cat’s diet.

Grooming

  • Cats rarely require baths and are relatively clean, but you should brush or comb their coats frequently. This will reduce shedding and decrease hairballs. You will often see cats licking themselves clean.
  • Pay attention to the cat’s skin. Excessive scratching and licking can mean allergies or parasites.
  • Cats have a sharp sense of hearing. Check your cat’s ears once a week for wax or other debris.
  • Those infamous claws. Check nails regularly and gently trim when needed. Be careful not to cut the pink part of the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are. You may have to visit the vet for this action since often cats do not like having their nails clipped.

Litter Box

  • This is a must for cats. It is their private bathroom.
  • Keep the box clean! Cats despise dirty litter boxes and may look for alternatives in your home.
  • Place the box in a private place away from a lot of noise.
  • Lining the litter box will make it easier for you to clean.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Cats