As an Adoption Coordinator for Lu’s Labs as well as a cat owner, and a Lu’s Labs adopter I feel I have the trifecta of experience to help other would-be adopters who also own cats… or who are owned by cats, whichever the case may be. Simply having a cat does not disqualify you from adopting a dog through our rescue. But it may take more time as we have to make sure that the dog will fit into a cat friendly household.
One of the reasons I volunteer for Lu’s Labs is because of how thorough they (we) are. When I first was looking at adopting through Lu’s Labs there was a dog I was absolutely in love with. She did indeed get along with cats, however the southern foster characterized her as “liking to play with cats.” I knew in my house of 3 cats who had been used to a dog that pretty much left them alone, that sort of personality would probably not work. But Luisa was patient with me and she found me the right dog that fit our home. Luisa was always caring about the resident cats as well as wanting to make sure she made the best match for one of her babies – the rescue dogs.
We never even “tried out” the first dog in my home because of my concerns, even though it was a foster to adopt situation. At Lu’s Labs, the goal is always to have the least transition for a dog. Rescue dogs have been through enough, we do not want them hopping from home to home as people “try out a dog.” And this is especially true with homes with cats. We want both the safety and well-being of the resident cat to be thought of, as well as the safety and well-being of one of our rescue babies. To that end, we have 4 different designations we use internally in all of our communications. This is done between the intake coordinators and the VP of Adoptions, VP of Fosters, and Medical Director so that they know where and how to best place a dog. Not only into a foster home, but into a forever home. All the adoption coordinators have access to this information on the dogs.
Lu’s Labs has a very definitive 4-part rating system to help the AC’s coordinate with their adopters and explain which dogs may be available to adopters with cats.
No – Well if a dog is a “no” with cats, it’s a no. This means the dog has, for whatever reason, proven itself to be untrustworthy living in a home with cats. Something has been observed either before Lu’s Labs took in the rescue, or during its evaluation, medical, or stay with a southern foster. We’ve deemed it not a safe dog to adopt to a home with cats. No means no.
Unknown – This means that we have not had a chance to observe this dog around cats. We have no idea how it will react, whether or not it will have prey drive toward a cat, and whether or not the two can co-exist in a home together. In these cases, we err on the side of caution and do not adopt these dogs out to homes with cats. Why tempt fate? Unknown dogs are just as much a no to cat homes according to Lu’s Labs, as a “No.”
Maybe – In a maybe situation that means the dog has come into contact with a cat but doesn’t necessarily live with one. It may be that the dog was temperament tested with a cat at the shelter, but that does not give a full picture. It may mean that the dog saw a cat out on its walk and didn’t chase it. It may mean that the dog encountered a cat and chased it but did not seem to want to harm the cat. These scenarios are very short-term and have not been proven over longtime exposure through Lu’s Labs or previous owners. In a “Maybe” situation, then we will adopt the dog out to a home where the people have experience with dogs, and the cat is dog savvy. This still means proper introductions need to take place. Please see our protocol.
Yes – This is the rating with cats that a first-time dog adopter who owns cats needs to be looking for when it comes to adopting a Lu’s Lab. When a dog is a yes with a cat, that means that it has lived with a cat and has proven itself not to harm cats. But here’s the rub. Every dog and cat is different. Just like you aren’t going to be friends with every person you meet, not every dog and cat are going to be friends either. It is a process that takes time, energy, and effort. Just like my story in the beginning. I knew my cats well enough that I knew introducing a dog who wanted to play with them, wasn’t going to work. You have to know your cat. Yes does not automatically mean yes for every situation. And EVEN in a yes case, you MUST use proper protocol for introducing a dog and cat.
As a dog and cat owner you HAVE to want to take the time to introduce a dog to your cat and vise versa. Not all cats are easy going, and not all dogs are either. You have to have a plan in place. And if you are going to give up after a couple of hours, a day, or week, and return the dog because it’s not adjusting fast enough you are missing the point of adopting and rescuing a dog. They are not all perfect right out of the chute. But with love, care, and time they will learn and grow with your family. It may mean special training with a personal trainer that comes to your home, or a very patient and deliberate supervision that spans months.