While puppies and kittens are adorable together and can become great friends if raised in the same household, there are some considerations any pet owner should keep in mind. Here, our Palmdale vets explain what they are.
If a puppy or kitten is adorable, then when you take the two of them together they must be just as cute and sweet, right? While this certainly can be the case, raising a puppy and kitten in the same home as one another isn't always so simple.
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, or All Care Pet Clinic team explains how to avoid this by setting your puppy and kitten up for success, and long happy life together.
What are the best dog breeds to raise with a cat?
While there are a number of practices you can implement when introducing your two young pets to one another, one of the most surefire ways of setting your puppy and kitten up for success actually comes before your adorable 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, in fact, 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 (yikes!).
This hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is much stronger in some breeds of dog than others, though. And the prey drive is where you may run into issues with your dog's behavior right off the bat. As your dog grows to be larger than you cat, even if they get along swimmingly, if your pup is of a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, they may have those instincts take over and seriously chance your cat like 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 rising them with your kitten.
How do I 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 a number of strategies you can use to introduce your two pets to one another in order to set them up for success and a life of friendship!
Be Patient During Introductions
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 too!
At the beginning of the process, make sure your puppy and kitten are able to see each other and maintain their own personal space(e.g. having the puppy or kitten in a room with an open door and a baby gate separating them from the other pet).
When introducing your two pets this way, you should be prepared for a bit of kerfuffle. Don't be surprised or concerned if your kitten hisses and spits at your dog; they are just instinctively asserting their boundaries to a new, and maybe scary, creature. The goal from these first few introductions is positive reactions, or even just neutrality. 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 Pup
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 basic commands like Sit, Stay, Stop and Leave It is always important. But, if your puppy is getting overexcited, too physical, or stalks/chases your kitten, 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
Another 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 individual temperaments, you may want to do any of the following:
- Avoid having your dog and cat in the house alone together. Ensure that each has access to their own food and fresh water and close off part of your home with one of them in it to avoid confrontations while you're out. If you'll be gone for more than a few hours, get a friend, family member, or pet sitter to look after the puppy and kitten. Remember - they're still babies and need supervision.
- 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 kitty was only sniffing the interesting-smelling food their sibling is eating.
- Set up areas of your home for each young pet to be alone if they would like. This can include teaching each of your pets to stay out of the other's space, getting them a crate or animal-safe play pen/enclosure or setting aside different parts of your home for one pet or the other.