While puppies and kittens may look cute in photographs together and can keep each other company, there are some considerations any pet owner should keep in mind when raising a puppy and kitten in the same home. Here, our Elk Grove vets explain what they are.
Kitten and Puppies
While these creatures, when raised together, can often become fast friends and keep one another company, that doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains. There is also the possibility, however tragic, that a grown dog may mistake a cat for prey. Here, we explain some tricks on how to avoid this and set your puppy and kitten up for success, and long happy life together.
Best Dog Breeds to Raise with a Cat
While there are several practices you can implement when introducing your two young pets to one another, one of the ways to set your puppy and kitten up for success comes before your puppy even comes into your life.
The breed and temperament of your puppy, more than your kitten, will be what determines how successful raising the two together will be in the long term. The instinctual drive to hunt is present in all dogs a lot of their play involves simulating some aspect of hunting, from chasing down a ball (small animals) to tugging on a rope (dividing up a catch). Even squeakers in certain toys are exciting to your puppy because they simulate the sounds of dying prey.
This hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is much stronger in some breeds of dogs than others. The prey drive is what may cause issues with your dog's behavior right off the bat. As your dog grows to be larger than your cat, they may have those instincts take over and seriously think of your cat as prey.
Dogs like Shiba Inus, Huskies, Terriers, Beagles, Dobermans, Malamutes, and Cattle Dogs all have notoriously high prey drives and, if your puppy is one of or mixed with these breeds, you will likely have to be very mindful of their prey drive when raising them with your kitten.
Steps to Take to Raise a Puppy and Kitten together
Beyond being careful about the breed of dog that you get if you intend to raise a puppy and kitten together, there are several strategies you can use to introduce your two pets to one another to set them up for success and a life of cohabitation.
Introduce Them Slowly
While introducing your puppy and kitten early in their lives is a great start to helping them get used to one another, the way you introduce them is important.
When first introducing your kitten and puppy to one another, make sure they can see one another, but each has their own space too. Setting them up in connected rooms with a baby gate between them can be an excellent start.
When introducing your two pets this way, you should expect some excitement. Don't be surprised or worried if your kitten hisses at your dog, they are just asserting their boundaries with a new, creature. The goal from these first few introductions is positive reactions, or even just apathy. If your puppy and kitten are happy to do their own thing while in eyesight of one another, that's a great sign that they will be able to safely and comfortably live together.
Dedicate Time To Training Your Puppy
Working on your puppy's obedience is always important, but it is even more important than usual when they are being raised with a kitten.
Making sure that your dog knows commands like Sit, Stay, Stop and Leave It are always important. But, if your puppy is getting too physical with your kitten, getting too excited around them, or beginning to stalk or chase them, these commands can be critical in snapping your puppy out of it and teaching them what is and isn't allowed when it comes to your cat.
Managing Your Pet's Time Together
The last thing to keep in mind when raising a puppy and kitten together is how closely you need to manage and monitor their time together. You will be able to assess this as you watch their relationship develop, but depending on your puppy and kitten's temperaments, you may want to do any of the following:
- Avoid having your dog and cat in the house alone together. You can crate your dog when you need to leave the house for a long or close off part of your home with one of them in it to avoid confrontations.
- Avoid having your puppy and kitten eat at the same times or in the same place. Some dogs are very protective of their food and may get confrontational with your kitten, even if your kitty was only sniffing the interesting food their sibling is eating.
- Set up safe areas of your home for each pet to be alone if they choose to. This can include teaching each of your pets to stay out of the other's space, getting your puppy a crate, or setting aside the upstairs or basement for one pet or the other.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice.