Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introducing a new kitten to other pets

The two little cuties pictured here are our new additions.  Meet Luna and Maya.  They are 9 weeks old and full of life.  It has been 9 months since our older kitty passed away and we decided it was time to adopt a new furry feline companion -- or two!
  


Introducing two kittens into a house with other animals is not without some challenges. Even if your older dog or cat has lived peacefully with other animals in the house, there is no guarantee that he or she will welcome a new kitten with joy, or even tolerance!  When you bring a new kitten into the home, your older dog or cat will need lots of extra attention during the transition.  Here are a few tips to help with the introduction to the family dog.

A special place for kitty

When you first bring your new kitten home, it is important to isolate her from the resident pets. Choose a room in neutral territory (not where your older pet likes to sleep).  Set up the kitten's room with a bed, scratching post, litter pan, food and water dishes, and plenty of toys. Put the kitten in the room and let her explore a bit while you are still with her. Then leave her alone for a short time so she can become comfortable in the new surroundings. Keep the kitten and the resident pets separated, with the kitty in its own room, for the first few days.  

Introductions

Pick a time when the dog is outside or crated, and let the kitten or cat begin to explore the rest of the house.  Animals get to know each other by smell. Your older pet will likely spend a lot of time sniffing at the bottom of the door to kitty's room. The kitten will do the same on the other side.  Rub the newcomer with a towel to impart her scent on it, then put the towel in the sleeping area of your existing pets, so they'll become accustomed to her smell.   Give the new kitty a towel or blanket with the scent of your other pets.

Once kitty seems comfortable in the house, you can begin introducing the dog. Take it slowly! Keep the dog on a short leash, give the command for a sit or a down/stay and allow the cat to come into the room. If the dog is remaining quiet and the cat seems interested, let the cat come over and investigate the dog.  The first time the two pets meet face to face should be brief, and hopefully calm.  Properly restraining the dog on a leash will prevent him from chasing and scaring the kitten. Don't force the issue. Let the animals go as close, or stay as far away, as they want. Repeat short introductions as often as necessary, until the animals are able to stay comfortably in the same room, with adequate supervision. 

Monitor the dog and cat closely and do not leave them alone together until you are absolutely certain they will get along well. Make sure there are safe retreats in the house where the cat can get away from the dog. A baby gate across the doorway of one room works well. Position the gate 4 to 5 inches above the floor for young kittens or older cats who cannot jump well. 
Remember to be patient with the process.  Take it slow and try not to rush things. Soon enough everyone should settle down and get along just fine.  We will let you know how things go at our house!  

Thinking about adopting? 

Are you looking to adopt a new feline friend?  Check out Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Maine (H.A.R.T), a non-profit, no-kill organization that takes pets that would be otherwise out on the street .  www.hartofme.com.  They have lots of wonderful cats and kittens looking for new homes.  That’s where we got our two little girls!

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