You may think it's cute to raise a puppy and kitten together, but there are important factors you should consider. Today, our Los Angeles County vets share tips on how you can raise a puppy and kitten in the same home safely.
If a puppy and kitten are adorable individually, then putting the two of them together must be extra cute and sweet, right? While this certainly could be true, raising a puppy and kitten in the same home at the same time isn't always simple.
While these creatures, when raised together, can often become fast friends and keep one another company, it doesn't mean there won't be a few growing pains along the way. There is also the possibility, however tragic, that a grown dog may mistake a cat for prey. Here, our veterinary team at Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach shares ways you can avoid this and set your puppy and kitten up for success.
The Best Dog Breeds To Raise With Your Cat
While there are a handful of practices you can use to introduce 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 you adopt your new puppy.
The breed and temperament of your puppy, more than your kitten, will be what determines how successful you are at raising the two together 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.
However, this hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is a lot stronger in some dog breeds than in others. And the prey drive is where you may run encounter issues with your dog's behavior from the beginning. As your dog grows to be larger than your cat, even if they get along swimmingly, if your pup is a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, those instincts may take over and seriously chase your cat as their 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 To Raise a Kitten & Puppy Together
Beyond being careful about the breed of dog you adopt, 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 long friendship!
Introduce Your Puppy & Kitten 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 also imperative.
When first introducing your kitten and puppy to one another, make sure they can see one another, but ensure each has their own personal space too. Setting them up in connected rooms with a baby gate between them could be an excellent way to start.
When introducing your two pets this way, you can plan on there being some excitement. Don't be surprised or worried if your kitten hisses and spits at your dog, they are just asserting their boundaries to a new and possibly scary creature. The goal from these first few introductions is to establish positive reactions, or even just apathy. If your puppy and kitten are happy to do their own thing while in the eyesight of one another, it's a great sign that they will be able to live together safely and comfortably.
Set Aside Time To Train Your Puppy
Working on your puppy's obedience is always important, but it is even more essential when they are being raised with a kitten!
Making sure your dog knows commands like Sit, Stay, Stop and Leave It, is always important. But, if your puppy is getting too physical with your kitten, getting too excited around them, or starting to stalk or chase your kitty, 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.
Manage The Time Your Pets Spend Together
The last thing you should remember when raising a puppy and kitten at the same time is to manage and monitor the time they spend 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 might want to try one or more of the following:
- Avoid leaving your cat and dog alone together. You can put your dog in a crate when you need to leave the house or close off part of your home with one of your pets in it, to avoid confrontations.
- 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.
- 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.