If you think that one puppy or kitten is adorable, then two must be twice as adorable, right!? While puppies and kittens may look sweet 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 San Gabriel 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 can often become fast friends and keep each other company when raised together, that doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains. There is also the tragic possibility that an adult dog will mistake a cat for prey. Our Temple City Animal Hospital team explains how to avoid this by preparing your puppy and kitten for success and a long and 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, rather than your kitten, will determine how successful raising the two together will be in the long run. The instinctual drive to hunt is present in all dogs; in fact, much 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). Squeakers in certain toys are also appealing to your puppy because they mimic the sounds of dying prey (yikes!).
This hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is much stronger in some dog breeds than others. And the prey drive is where you may notice problems with your dog's behavior right away. Even if your dog and cat get along fine, if your pup is of a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, those instincts may take over and treat 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?
Aside from being cautious about the breed of dog you choose if you plan to raise a puppy and kitten together, there are a number of strategies you can use to introduce your two pets to one another and set them up for success and a life of friendship!
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 too!
Make sure your kitten and puppy can see one another while maintaining their individual privacy when first introducing them to one another. A great place to start is by placing them in adjoining rooms with a baby gate between them.
You can anticipate some excitement when you introduce your two pets in this manner. If your kitten hisses and spits at your dog, don't be alarmed or concerned; they are merely establishing their boundaries with a strange and possibly frightening creature. The intention behind these initial introductions is to elicit favorable responses or even apathy. Your puppy and kitten will be able to live together safely and comfortably if they are content to do their own thing while within sight of one another.
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!
It's always crucial to confirm that your dog understands commands like "sit," "stay," "stop," and "leave it." However, if your puppy starts to become overly aggressive with your kitten, becomes overly excited around them, or starts to stalk or chase them, these commands can be vital in getting your puppy to stop and teach them what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to your cat.
Managing Your Pets' 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 individual 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 long or close off part of your home with one of them in it to avoid confrontations.
- Do not feed your kitten and puppy at the same time or in the same location. Even if your kitten was only sniffing the tasty food their sibling is eating, some dogs are fiercely protective of their food and may become combative with your kitten.
- Set up safe areas of your home for each 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 your puppy a crate, or setting aside the upstairs or basement for one pet or the other.