Puppy & Kitten - Are They a Good Match?
Surely, if a puppy or kitten is adorable by themselves, then raising a puppy and kitten together must be extra cute and wonderful, right? While this certainly can be the case, raising a puppy and kitten in the same home isn't always so easy or straightforward.
While these adorable pets can often become the best of friends and be excellent company of one another, that doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains. Below, our Morton vets offer advice on how to successfully raise a puppy and kitten together.
Set Them Up for Success - Choose a Suitable Breed of Dog
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 your adorable puppy even comes into your life.
The breed and temperament of your puppy, more than your kitten, will play a key role in determining how successful the pairing will be 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!).
While every dog has its own unique personality, and there are no guarantees, it is best to try and find a breed that is more likely to live in harmony with a feline friend.
Prey drive (the hunting instinct) is generally much stronger in some dog breeds than others. Breeds known to have a strong prey drive such as Shiba Inus, Huskies, Terriers, Beagles, Dobermans, Malamutes and Cattle Dogs are best avoided. Whereas other breeds such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, pugs, Bichon Frise, poodles, basset hounds, and Maltese tend to have lower prey drive and may make a better friend to your kitty in the long term.
Tips For 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!
Be Patient Introducing Your New Fur Babies to Each Other
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, 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 can be an excellent start.
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.
Dedicate Quality Time to Training Your Puppy
Working on your puppy's obedience is always important, but it is especially important 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. But, 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.
Always Supervise Their Time Together & Tightly Manage The Situation
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 crate your dog when you need to leave the house for long 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. Some dogs are 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 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.
Essential Veterinary Care For Your Puppy & Kitten
Puppies should ideally have their first veterinary appointment around six weeks of age, and kittens around eight weeks. During your pet's first visit to the vet, your puppy or kitten will receive a thorough physical examination to assess their overall health, look for signs of any congenital defects, and check for external parasites. Your vet should also administer deworming medications for roundworms and hookworms, and provide your pet with their first round of puppy or kitten vaccinations. Kittens will also have a blood test done to check for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
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.