Young kittens, between 4 and 14 weeks old, are open to socializing with puppies more so than older cats, recommends the Gentle Touch Animal Hospital. A kitten raised with a puppy usually gets along well with him as an adult. Some kittens may even form close bonds with a pup.
Set up a nest box for your kitten, consisting of a cardboard box containing some soft blankets wrapped around a heating pad for warmth. Do the same for your puppy. Keep each little one in separate rooms.
Switch the bedding from the kitten to the puppy and vice-versa. The blankets will have the scents of each animal on them. This gives your furry friends time to get used to these funny new scents prior to a face-to-face meeting.
Place the kitten within a pet playpen. Allow the puppy to interact with the kitten through the bars or mesh of the playpen. Make the experience a pleasant one by feeding each furry friend on either side of the walls of the playpen.
Wait until each pet reaches around 7 weeks of age before introducing them in a face-to-face meeting, Dogster recommends.
Switch the position of the kitten and puppy during each of their feedings, always allowing them to see and smell each other while eating. Praise them for calm or curious behaviors.
Engage the puppy in some play to tire him out a bit. A well-exercised pup will be calmer when he first meets the kitty.
Introduce the kitten and puppy, carefully supervising their interactions with each other. Give them each treats, like a bit of soft kitten or puppy food, to reward them for positive play or merely tolerating each other's presence.
Keep face-to-face meetings short, around 10 to 15 minutes. Lengthen this time as each pet adjusts to the presence of the other. Continue to supervise them during their time together, until they get older, between 6 months and 1 year old.
Socialize your kitten to different puppies if your friends have some or if you know any foster moms of little pups. This way, she'll be used to a variety of different dogs later in life. Always keep any meetings positive, with lots of praise, food rewards and careful supervision.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Introducing a New Cat to Other Pets
- PetPlace: Cats Living with Dogs
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Introducing Your Cat to Other Cats and Dogs
- Best Friends Animal Society: Introducing a Cat and a Dog
- Gentle Touch Animal Hospital: Puppy and Kitten Socialization, Training and Behavior
- Dogster: American Veterinary Society of Behavior Recommends Socializing Kittens and Puppies at Seven Weeks of Age
- If you are fostering a litter of kittens, consult with the head of the rescue organization you work with to see if your kittens can interact with a group of puppies that someone else may be fostering for the same group.
- To socialize a litter of kittens to a litter of puppies, you would follow the same steps as with dealing with one of each. For example, you'd keep the group of kittens confined in the play pen while the group of puppies is outside of it.
- Consider attending kitten kindergarten classes for your little one, usually offered by your local shelter or SPCA. During such classes, she'll not only be exposed to other people and kitties, but perhaps some pups as well.
- Don't leave young puppies and kittens together if unsupervised. They could accidentally harm each other with rough play.
- Only socialize your kitten with puppies that are healthy. Their immune systems are still developing so they are open to getting a variety of diseases that can pass from dogs to cats.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.