Puppies and kittens may look cute in photographs together, but they don't always get along. Our Echo Park vets discuss some things to keep in mind if you are thinking about housing both a kitten and a puppy.
Raising a Puppy & Kitten Together
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 to get them to coexist.
Introduce Them Slowly
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.
During your kitten and puppy's first introduction to one another, you should make sure they can see one another, but each has their own space too. Setting them up in connected rooms with a baby gate between them can be an excellent start.
When introducing your two pets this way, you should expect some excitement. It is okay if your kitten hisses and spits at your dog, they are just asserting their boundaries with a new 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.
Training Your Puppy
Working on your puppy's obedience is always important, but it is even more important when they are being raised with a kitten!
Making sure that your dog knows commands like "sit", "stay", "no", and "leave it" are important if your puppy is getting too physical with your kitten. If your puppy is 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.
Best Dog Breeds to Raise With a Cat
The most surefire way of setting your puppy and kitten up for success comes before your adorable puppy even comes into your life by selecting the breed of dog.
The breed and temperament of your puppy, more than your kitten, will be what determines how successful raising the two together will be. Dogs are hunters a lot of their play involves simulating some aspect of hunting, from chasing down a ball (small animals) to tugging on a rope (fighting their catch).
This hunting instinct, or "prey drive," is much stronger in some breeds of dogs. The prey drive is where you may run into issues with your dog's behavior. As your dog grows to be larger than your cat, even if they seem to initially get along, if your puppy is of a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, those instincts take over and they will view your cat as prey.
Dogs like Terriers, Beagles, Shiba Inus, Huskies, 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 careful of their prey drive when rising them with your kitten.
Managing Your Pet's Time Together
You need to manage and monitor your kitten and puppies' 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. Separate them in different rooms or crate/cage them.
- Avoid having your puppy and kitten eat at the same time or in the same place. Dogs can be protective of their food and may get confrontational with your kitten, even if the kitten 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.