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24 February 2021
We all just love the thought of bringing home a new kitten. But there is one area of concern: you already have a pet. How will your dog or cat react when you introduce them to your new kitten? You have no idea how your other furry friend will feel about the addition of a new kitten to the family. It’s hard to predict our dog’s or cat’s behavior, but in fact, just like bringing home a newborn baby to a toddler, your resident pet will likely feel jealous and neglected for a short period (which is normal), while you try to get the kitten familiarized to your home and your everyday routine. Here are some helpful insights on how to help introduce your kitten to another dog or cat.
It is better to introduce the new kitten at a time when you will have at least a weekend to be home. You will want to observe and supervise closely at first. If your resident dog does not know the basic commands such as” sit”, “down”, “come” and “stay”, you should teach them prior to the introduction or as soon as you can. These basic commands will be helpful to ease the introduction and ensure your kitten’s safety.
It is recommended to opt for a slow desensitization method when you introduce your kitten to your dog. Place the kitten in a room with a tall baby gate across the door. The room you choose should be one the dog cannot access and does not need to access. Let them get used to each other’s presence and smell. Little by little, open the gate and let them interact with each other with supervision. Be patient, this may not happen overnight. The dog should be praised and rewarded if they remain calm around the kitten. You should also praise your kitten for good behavior as well.
Some cats are more territorial and need to be introduced slowly to a new member of the family. Cats feel calm and happy in a stable environment. Never immediately introduce them face-to-face without a period of adjustment. Let the kitten adjust to their new room, allowing your resident pet to become familiar with your new kitten’s smell through the door or gate.
When you are ready to introduce the two, slowly open the door to the kitten’s room and let the resident pet look inside and smell the room. They will probably sniff and stare at each other. If the contact goes well, reward them with treats. If one or the other does not react well, separate them, and try again later. It might take a couple of meetings before both remain calm.
Also, it is important to note that cats do not usually like to share their belongings. You should try to purchase separate toys and bowls for your kitten and your cat. Start by creating a new room for the kitten with everything they may need such as food bowls, a litter box, toys and a bed.
Once your new kitten feels comfortable and safe in their room, it is time to make a first introduction – through scent! Your pets feel safe when surrounded by their scent, and they will start to learn about each other through smell. You can start by swapping toys or a blanket, this way they can get used to each other’s scent.
Remember that your resident dog or cat may show signs of possessiveness and territorial behavior to assert their place in your home and around their space to show your kitten who is in charge. You can slowly let them play together while supervised so that they can begin to build trust in one another.
Make sure they each have an area where they can have personal space. Feed them in separate bowls, even though they might end up sharing later on!
It could take up to 3-4 weeks for your kitten and older pet to get along and play comfortably without needing supervision or any type of intervention. Once you have noticed full days where there is no “rough play”, you can start leaving them together for short periods of time during the day.
When you introduce your new kitten, keep in mind that introduction is new to both your kitten and your dog or cat. Your resident pet has been the only pet in the house for some time so it is only natural that it will take some getting used to. Your kitten will eventually learn their place in your household. Give them both time to adjust to each other and try not to stress as they will feed on your energy. Enjoy the new addition and take it one day at a time, it’s all worth it!