Many people think that cats and dogs can’t get along, and that socializing kittens with dogs is difficult.
Not So! There are many households where they can coexist rather peacefully, or at least tolerate the others’ presence!
In fact, it is often easier to socialize kittens with canines in the home than it is introducing them to the resident cat!
There are dogs with certain temperaments that you may suspect will chase or hurt a smaller animal. If you are providing for the kitten’s care and have any of these misgivings about socializing kittens, please listen to your gut instinct.
If you know your dog is good with cats and kittens and has been introduced to them or lives with one now, then socializing kittens with him should go smoothly.
Understand Your Pup’s Temperament Before Socializing Kittens
If your dog has never before seen a cat, and is inclined to chase and hunt rabbits, squirrels, or other small animals, be extra careful, as socializing may be difficult (or dangerous!)
You can test how he might react by holding her close to you and letting your dog smell her fur.
A cat will not smell like prey to your pooch, and if he sees you petting and stroking the kitten, he may realize this is a new member of the “pack.”
Just make sure you can immediately bring the kitten out of his reach if he seems like he wants to nip or bite her during socializing.
Your pup may get excited, bark, jump, and wiggle all over the place begging you to put the kitten on the floor.This is a good sign!
If this is the case, you can supervise a “floor socializing visit” with your kitten and Fido, just be within reach of both of them if he gets too carried away.
For added safety during socializing kittens, place a choker collar on your pup if you need to pull him away, and make sure your kitten’s nails are trimmed!
She may be afraid of him, and you don’t want to be responsible for scratched noses.
Just for the record, cat-friendly canines are not necessarily breed-based, and socializing kittens to many different breeds is possible.
There are Pit bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweilers that just adore kittens!
On the flip-side, just because you have a mellow Labrador, a Retriever, or a tiny Chihuahua don’t assume that you can just surprise them by setting kittens down in front of them and assuming that socializing will take care of itself. Caution is key!
Introductions: First Steps to Socializing Kittens
When you first begin the process of introducing your kitten to your dog, make sure you do not act nervous.
They both will react to your tension, and will be on guard that something just isn’t right about the situation.
As stated earlier, the best way to bring the kitten into the room for the introduction is to hold her close against your body, remain standing, and let your dog sniff her fur.
It’s OK if he wants to lick her too. While you’re holding her, talk softly to your dog and pet him too, so he knows this is a special moment and lets him know he is being a good boy!
If this goes well, you can put her on the floor. If Fido gets carried away and overly excited, firmly tell him no and he will learn to be gentle.
If she walks away, your dog may want to follow it around and lick him and sniff him.
This is really a positive outcome of socializing kittens if he reacts this way. And don’t worry, eventually he will lose interest!
Make sure you keep this first meeting brief. Your kitten may not be afraid of Sparky, but she will start to get annoyed!
Let them mingle for maybe ten minutes before you put her back in her safe room or let the dog outside.
If you have tried this introduction and you truly feel that your pooch poses a danger, please do not tempt fate.
It is unlikely that you will be able to keep them separated all the time, and if their paths accidentally meet because a guest left a door open, you will be heartbroken if something happened to your sweet little cat!
A Good Household Mix?
If you have a cat-unfriendly dog, please seriously consider if adopting a kitten is the right choice for your household.
There is a third possible outcome of socializing kittens with a dog–he may not care one “lick” about her! One sniff, and he’ll be saying “Eh, whatever…where’s my dog food?”
Don’t be disappointed by this–not being followed around and licked like crazy by a pesky canine is probably what your new arrival prefers anyhow!
If nothing else, it at least likely means you won’t have to worry about aggressive behavior from your dog in the future, or that playtime will get too rough.
It is still important to supervise their socializing until you can be 100% certain that there will be inter-species peace in your household!
Do you have an adult cat at home as well? Read our tips on introducing kittens to your cat.