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 O’Fallon 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 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 Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital team explains how to avoid this by preparing your puppy and kitten for success and 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.
More than your kitten's temperament, the breed, and temperament of your puppy will determine how successful raising the two together will be in the long run. All dogs have an instinctual desire to hunt; 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 some 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 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 your 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?
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 a successful 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!
When first introducing your kitten and puppy to one another, make sure they can see one another, but each has its own personal space too. Setting them up in connected rooms with a baby gate between them can be an excellent start.
Expect some excitement when introducing your two pets in this manner. Don't be surprised or concerned if your kitten hisses and spits at your dog; they're simply asserting their boundaries to a new, possibly frightening, creature. The goal of these initial introductions is to elicit positive reactions or even apathy. If your puppy and kitten are content to do their own thing while in sight of one another, it's a good sign that they'll be able to live together safely and comfortably.
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 is always critical to ensure that your dog understands commands such as Sit, Stay, Stop, and Leave It. However, if your puppy becomes too physical with your kitten, becomes overly excited in their presence, or begins 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 acceptable when it comes to your cat.
Managing Your Pet's Time Together
The final consideration when raising a puppy and kitten together is how closely you must manage and monitor their time together. You'll be able to tell as you watch their relationship develop, but depending on your puppy and kitten's personalities, you might want to try 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 the 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 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.