These days we’re all spending more time at home with our pets. Maybe you’re even thinking that you’d like to add to your furry family with a kitten or cat? Wondering how to make sure the kitten’s introduction with your dog (or resident cat) goes smoothly? Luckily, there are a few things that you can do that will increase your chance of success.
Take It Slow
From the start, it is essential to know that this process may take some time. It will take time for your new kitten to be comfortable in the new space and for your dog (or resident cat) to accept another animal. Stay patient and make sure you give all animals enough time to adjust.
If you just throw everyone together in a room, there will be such a wave of emotions; confusion, curiosity, and possibly even aggression. Take the introduction slowly, or it may take even longer for the pets to develop trust in each other.
Create a Safe Place
For the first few days, it’s a great idea to give the new kitten a space of their own, away from other pets. This area should be filled with all the things that they will need; food, water, litter box, and also a few toys. While the kitten is in this area of your home, be sure to encourage daily one-on-one time with all the people in the house. Then after a few days, while continuing to separate the animals, feed both of them from opposite sides of the door of the kitten’s safe room. When both pets are eating, they will smell and hear each other in non-threatening ways.
Switch Things Up
The next step in the process is swapping spaces. A few times a day, let the kitten explore areas where the other pet hangs out and vice versa. Not only are you allowing the kitten to investigate, everyone gets a further understanding that everyone is here to stay.
Time to Say Hello
Now that the new kitten has been in other areas of the house, it’s time to move the litterbox to its permanent location and have a meet-and-greet in a controlled environment. Depending on the situation, it may be best to have the new pet in a crate or pet carrier for safety. This keeps both pets safe should one of them become aggressive or frightened. Over the next few days, let the pets interact. If you have two cats, let them play with similar toys, making sure to involve both pets at once to minimize jealousy.
It is important to supervise these interactions to ensure that everyone stays safe, and it gives you a chance to reinforce good behavior as well as prevent bad behavior. A young kitten or even an adult cat could be injured by a curious dog. If either pet isn’t calmly interacting or playing gently enough, go back to shorter together times. Understandably, you would want them to be instant friends, but patience is probably your best friend. As the next few weeks progress and you see that the pets are not getting along as you may like, you can go back to some of the earlier steps and take it even slower. You can also reach out to their veterinarian for additional assistance on socializing them together.