While it may be cute seeing a puppy and kitten next to each other in a photograph, there are some things you need to take into consideration when raising a puppy and kitten together in one home. Today, our Fort Collins vets explain more.
If a puppy or kitten is cute and sweet on its own, then having both of them together in the same home is just as adorable, right? While there is a possibility that this could be true, raising a puppy and kitten in the same home at the same time isn't always easy.
While these animals, when raised together, can sometimes quickly become friends and keep each other company, this doesn't mean there won't be any growing pains. There is also the possibility, however tragic, that a grown dog may mistake a cat for prey.
Here, our Fort Collins vets share some ways you can help set your kitten and puppy up for success so they can live a long and happy life together.
The Best Type of Dogs 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 you even meet your adorable 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 (yikes!).
This hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is a lot stronger in some dog breeds than others. And the prey drive is where you might encounter problems with your dog's behavior from the very beginning. As your dog grows to become larger than your cat, even if they have been getting along well, if your puppy's breed has a highly-tuned hunting instinct, these instincts may take over and your dog could 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 these breeds or a mix of them, you will likely have to be very mindful of their prey drive when rising them with your kitten.
Raising a Puppy & 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!
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, ensure they are able to see each other but make sure they both have their own personal space. One great way you can do this is by setting them up in connected rooms but dividing them with a baby gate.
When introducing your two pets this way, you should expect 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 maybe scary, 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.
Designate Time To Training Your Puppy
When raising a puppy it's always important to be working on their obedience, even more so when you are raising one with a kitten.
Ensure your dog knows commands like Stop, Sit, Leave It, and Stay. 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.
How to Manage the Time Your Pets Spend Together
Lastly, when raising a puppy and kitten together as part of the same household, you need to closely monitor and manage the time they spend in each other's company. You can assess this as you watch the relationship between your cat and dog develop, however, depending on both of their temperments, you might want to implement one or more of these measures:
- 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.
- Do not feed your puppy and kitten 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.
- Don't leave your dog and cat in the house alone together. You can put your puppy in their crate or keep them in a part of your home that's kept separate from the kitten when you need to leave, to prevent confrontations.