Would it be all right to get a kitten if we already have a pet?
City Kitty answers: Oh, boy. Here's what usually happens. After years and years of faithfully loving a family unconditionally - all of a sudden the kids decide they want another furrball to play with. THEN, without even asking the first pet how they feel about it, mom or dad brings the new pet into their domain, drops it on the living room floor, and sits down to see what happens. Aaaaarrrgh! What did they think was going to happen?
Now, I'll never admit this to anyone else, but it's actually nice to have another furry guy to play with while everyone is away at work and school. But there's a right and a wrong way to introduce us to each other for the first time. Here's what you should do.
- When you bring the new kitten into the house, immediately isolate the baby in its own safe room and shut the door tightly. Make sure there is a litter box, scratching post, toys, food, and water in the room. Now, other pets in the house will stand on the other side of the door, sniff, bark, scratch, whine, or meeee-oooooo-wwww. But you just leave the new kitty right where it is - giving everyone time to adjust. The older pets need time to understand this baby is here to stay. And the new pet needs time to acclimate to its new surroundings.
- When the commotion settles down, when you see little paws reaching under the door trying to play, it will be obvious they have become comfortable with each others’ scents while safely separated by a door. Continue to keep the new kitty isolated for about a week. Watch to make sure that your new baby is eating well, drinking, and using the litter box properly. In almost every case, a cat that has an "accident" is suffering from a medical condition.
- After a week has gone by and the new kitty seems healthy, it is time for introductions. Always introduce the new kitty to the in-house cats before the dogs. First, bring the kitten into the same room as the cat in its carrier. Get ready - it is common for cats to hiss and make threatening growls at the first encounter. When things seem settled down, you can open the carrier door. Let your new baby walk out into the resident cat's territory on its own. Do not rush this process. They'll get together eventually.
- If you're introducing the cat to a dog, follow the same procedure as above - but keep the dog on a leash. Be ready to pull the dog away at the first sign of aggression. If they are playing peacefully, still watch carefully. A large dog could harm a kitten without meaning to. Just as with toddlers, big dogs don't know their own strength or understand the vulnerability of a young kitten. Some breeds of dogs cohabit with cats better than others.