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Just for Kids: Bringing Kitty Home

By: Virginia Wells

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When you bring your new kitten or cat home you will have to let him get used to his new surroundings. If you have other pets – another cat, a dog, a bird, or any other animal – you will have to introduce them gradually. Younger brothers or sisters must learn how to play with a cat, especially a small kitten, without hurting him. Then if everyone gets plenty of time to get used to each other, soon they will all get along fine.

Before you take your new pet home, take him to your veterinarian for a physical examination. It's important that your kitty doesn't have any diseases or skin conditions that can affect your other pets. Make sure he has been de-wormed and is up-to-date on his vaccinations. It's also important for your other pets to be healthy and current on their vaccinations, too.

Introducing Your Kitty to Another Cat

When you first bring your kitty home, immediately take him to a separate room and let him out to play and investigate. This is where he should stay for about a week.

Your older cat has lived in the house for a long time – he is the resident cat – and now suddenly there is someone new that is going to share space with him. If you understand this, you may be able to understand how your resident cat might react.

He may be unhappy to see somebody new and he may hiss or try to hurt the kitten. On the other hand, your cat may be easygoing and friendly and may like the new kitty. Some cats become friends right away and play with each other. They may even sleep together.

But until you know how your resident cat is going to react, you should take some precautions that your new pet doesn't get hurt or scared.

  • After a week, allow your resident cat to explore the door of the room where your new cat is staying. They may hiss or growl, but once they stop, you can open the door just a crack and let them explore each other some more. When they seem comfortable, let them meet. If they don't get along at first, you may want to start out with letting them see each other for only short periods of time (5 to 10 minutes). You might even have to separate them again for a while. Gradually increase the time they spend together as long as they are getting along. Remember cat play can be pretty rough.

  • Cats have their own rules and your older cat will let your new pet know what the rules are – in the same way that a kitten's mother helps him to learn: by growling and hissing.

  • If you have a carrier or crate, you can try bringing your new kitty to the main living area. Keep him inside to protect him while the resident cat investigates. Try feeding both cats a treat or some food at the same time so they associate each other with happy experiences.

  • Obtain new food and water bowls, litter box, scratching post/pad, toys and bedding for the new cat. Obtain the same type of food the cat was eating before. If you choose to switch him over to another type of food, do it gradually over a two-week period.

    Introducing Your Kitty to the Family Dog

    When you introduce your new kitty to your dog, do the same as when introducing him to your cat. But keep your dog on a leash.

    The best thing to do is to keep your kitten out of sight for a while so your dog can get used to the kitten's scent before you bring them face to face. Keep the kitten in another room. Let your dog sniff around the door or around the crate for a few days.

    When it's time to introduce them, keep your dog on a leash and let your dog come to the kitty. Don't let your kitty pounce on the dog. Your kitty may want to hide for a while and that's okay, too. Soon they will get used to each other and become friends.

    Be sure to give plenty of attention to your dog during the adjustment period.

  • Don't ever let the dog rush to the cat, even if he is only playing.
  • Provide your cat with a few escape routes and high hiding places so he can get away from the dog if he has to.
  • Let the dog and cat spend more and more time together but always supervise them until you are sure they won't hurt each other.

    Other Small Pets

    If you have a small pet like a hamster, Guinea pig or rabbit, there are some precautions you must take. Cats are natural predators, so keep your smaller friends safe by keeping them in an enclosure that cannot be opened by your cat's paw. Keep your pets in a room that is off limits to your cat unless you are there to supervise.

    Do the same with birds but be careful where you keep them. Birds must be kept only in certain places so they stay healthy. For example they should not be placed in direct sun or draft or even in the kitchen. Check with your veterinarian if you need help.

    You should make sure the enclosures of your smaller pets and birds have houses and boxes so they can crawl inside and escape from the cat's sight if they want to. Your pets might be upset if the cat sits himself down and stares at them for long periods of time.

    Introducing Your Kitty to Younger Brothers and Sisters

    Children often don't realize that you have to be very careful with a small cat or kitten. You should always be there to supervise when your young brothers or sisters are around.

    When you bring your kitty home, ask your brothers or sisters to sit down and let the kitty come to them. Explain that they should not scare the kitty by moving fast or making loud noises. They shouldn't rush at the kitty or try to pick the kitty up. Explain that while sitting on the floor, the kitty will probably climb on them anyway.

    Tell your younger brothers and sisters they should never pick the kitty up or try to carry him around. Kittens or even some cats can get hurt if they are dropped on the floor.

    Be Patient

    Remember to supervise your brothers and sisters and spend lots of time with all your pets – and be patient. They will get used to each other – eventually.

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