If a puppy or kitten is adorable, then the two of them must be equally adorable, right? While this is often the case, raising a puppy and a kitten in the same house 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. A tragic possibility is that an adult dog will mistake a cat for prey. Our Animal Medical Center team explains how to avoid this by preparing your puppy and kitten for success as well as a long and happy life together.
What are the best dog breeds to raise with a cat?
While there are several methods for introducing your two young pets to one another, one of the most effective comes before your adorable puppy even arrives in 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!).
However, some dog breeds have a much stronger hunting instinct, or "prey drive," than others. And the prey drive is where you may encounter 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 seriously risk your cat-like prey as your dog grows to be larger than your cat.
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 one of these breeds, you will need to be extremely cautious of their prey drive when raising 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 intend to raise a puppy and kitten together, there are several 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 to one another early in their lives is a good start, how you introduce them is also important!
When first introducing your kitten and puppy, make sure they can see each other but also have their own space. Setting them up in adjacent rooms with a baby gate between them can be a great place to start.
Expect some excitement when introducing your two pets in this manner. Don't be surprised or alarmed 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's especially important when they're raised with a kitten!
It is always important 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 around them, 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 leaving your dog and cat alone in the house. You can crate your dog if you need to leave the house for an extended period, or you can close off a section of your home with one of them in it to avoid confrontations.
- Avoid feeding your puppy and kitten at the same time or in the same location. Some dogs are very protective of their food and may become aggressive with your kitten, even if the kitty was only sniffing the interesting food their sibling is eating.
- Set aside safe areas in your home for each pet to spend time alone if they so desire. This can include teaching each of your pets to respect each other's space, getting a crate for your puppy, or reserving the upstairs or basement for one pet or the other.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.