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Tips For Raising a Puppy & Kitten Together

The image of a puppy and kitten sleeping together might make your heart sing, but is the reality as harmonious as the photos make it look? Our Ambler vets share insights and tips to help you be successful at raising a puppy and kitten together.  

Is it a good idea to get a puppy and a kitten?

Surely, if one pet is adorable then two pets (especially if one is a puppy and one is a kitten) must be extra cute and cuddly, right? Well, maybe. While this certainly can be the case, raising a puppy and kitten in the same home isn't always as easy or straightforward as pet parents hope it will be. 

In many cases, when raised together, a cat and dog can become the best of friends and be great company for each other, but that doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains along the way. There is also the possibility, however tragic, that a grown dog may mistake a cat for prey. Here, our Spring House Animal Hospital team explains how to avoid this by setting your puppy and kitten up for success, and a long happy life together. 

Pick a Cat-Friendly Dog Breed

While there are a number of practices you can implement when introducing your puppy and kitten to each other, one of the best things you can do to up your odds of success is to pick the right puppy.

The breed and temperament of your puppy, more than your kitten, will be what determines how successful raising the two together will be in the long term. Prey drive 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!).

That said, this hunting instinct is stronger in some breeds of dogs than others. And your dog's prey drive is where you may run into problems when it comes to living with a cat. As your dog grows to be larger than your cat, if your pup is of a breed with a highly-tuned hunting instinct, there may come a time when your sweet little puppy suddenly sees your beloved kitten as prey. For this reason, dog breeds with a strong prey drive should be avoided when choosing a puppy to raise with a kitten.

Dogs known to have a strong prey drive such as Shiba Inus, Huskies, Terriers, Beagles, Dobermans, Malamutes and Cattle Dogs are best avoided if you want your cat and dog to live harmoniously together.

While every dog has its own unique personality, and there are no guarantees, some breeds that may be better at living with a cat include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, pugs, Bichon Frise, poodles, basset hounds, and Maltese.

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!

Slowly Introduce Your Puppy & Kitten 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.

Focus Your Time & Energy on 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 and obeys basic commands such as 'Sit', 'Stay', 'Stop' and 'Leave It' is important. 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.

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.

Caring For the Health of Your New Puppy & Kitten

Give your four-legged family members their very best shot at a long and happy life together by providing them with the very best preventive care possible. From comprehensive physical exams to vaccines and parasite prevention, our veterinary clinic offers all of the services your pets need to stay healthy and happy.

Learn More About Our Puppy & Kitten Services

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.

Do you have a new puppy and kitten? Contact Spring House Animal Hospital today to book a wellness exam and preventive care for your four-legged family members.

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Spring House Animal Hospital welcomes new and existing clients to our veterinary clinic.

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