While these cats and dogs, when raised together, can often become friends and keep one another company, that doesn't mean it always works. There is also the possibility, that a grown dog may mistake a cat for prey. Here, our Companion Pet Clinic of Arizona team explains how to avoid this by setting your puppy and kitten up for success, and long happy life together.
The Best Breeds to Raise Together
One of the best ways of setting your puppy and kitten up for successful cohabitation is in the selection of what type of puppy to get.
The breed and temperament of your puppy will be what determines how successful raising the two together will be, more than the breed of your kitten. 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 much stronger in some breeds of dog than in others. The hunting instinct is where you may have problems with your dog's behavior. If your dog grows to be larger than your cat, or if your pup is of a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, they may have those instincts take over and consider your cat prey.
Dogs like Shiba Inus, Huskies, Terriers, Beagles, Dobermans, Malamutes and Cattle Dogs all have notoriously high prey drives. If your puppy is one of or mixed with these breeds, you will likely have to be very careful to monitor their prey drive when raising them with your kitten.
Strategies 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.
Introduce Them Slowly
The way you introduce them is important. Introducing your puppy and kitten early in their lives is a great start to helping them get used to one another.
When first introducing your kitten and puppy to one another, make sure they can see one another, but each have their own personal space too. Setting them up in connected rooms with a baby gate between them is an ideal first contact situation.
The goal for the first few introductions is positive reactions, or even just apathy. Don't be to worried if your kitten hisses and spits at your dog, they are just asserting their boundaries to a new creature. If your puppy and kitten are happy to do their own thing while in eyesight of one another it's a good sign that they will be able to safely and comfortably live together.
Dedicate Time To Training Your Puppy
Working on your puppy's obedience is always important. It is even more crucial that they are well trained when they are being raised with a kitten.
Making sure that your dog knows commands like 'Sit', 'Stay', 'Stop' and 'Leave It' are always important. If your puppy is getting too physical with your kitten, or beginning to use their hunting instincts by 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.
Managing Your Pet's Time Together
The last thing to keep in mind when raising a puppy and kitten together is how closely you need to manage and monitor their 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. You can either crate your pets when you need to leave the house for prolonged periods 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. Dogs can be very protective of their food and may get confrontational with your kitten, even if 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 want to get away from their sibling of a different species. This can include teaching each of your pets to stay out of the other's space, getting your puppy a crate, or setting aside a room for one pet that the other knows not to enter.