Pet-to-Pet Socialization – Adding a Kitten
Introducing a new kitten to your other pets who have already established their place in your household needn’t be a challenge. Many of us already have at least one pet at home but our hearts always have room for adopting yet another poor homeless kitten or the addition of that perfect purebred kitten to our breeding stock. By following some simple guidelines you can make the adjustment period short and painless. However, before considering such a step, you should keep the following issues in mind.
Your New Pet Should Be Healthy
Before you take your new kitten home to meet your other pets, take him to your veterinarian for a check-up. It’s important that he doesn’t have any transmissible diseases that could affect your other pets. Make sure he has been de-wormed and is up-to-date on his vaccinations. It’s important for your other pets to be healthy and up-to-date with their vaccinations, too, before you introduce your new kitten to them.
Introducing Your New Kitten
Introduce your new kitten to your other pets gradually. If you have more than one other pet, introduce the new kitten to one pet at a time so that you don’t overwhelm him. Let your new and resident pets sniff and inspect each other. They may growl and hiss at first, but this usually only indicates initial insecurity.
Try reassuring all of your pets that everything’s fine. Don’t use physical force to put them in their place; this may cause your familiar pets to generate negative associations with the new kitten. Never leave your new kitten unsupervised with any of your older pets until you are sure they have accepted each other. It’s important not to neglect your older pets even though the newcomer may appear more needy. Let them know that they’re still part of the family and that your new kitten isn’t a replacement. Spend 10 to 15 minutes alone with each of your pets each day so that each gets your undivided attention for a while. This way, they’ll be more likely to accept the “new addition” without getting their noses put out of joint.
“Kitten-Proof” Your Home/Apartment
Your new kitten may need to spend some time sequestered in a room until all of your other pets have accepted him. Kittens are very inquisitive and have an insatiable need for exploring things. Make sure there are plenty of toys for the newcomer to play with in his isolation rather than having him chew on items like electrical cords.
Your new kitten shouldn’t have access to medications or household chemicals. Put fragile or valuable items away if you don’t want them to be destroyed.
Remember to spend lots of time with all your pets – and be patient. They’ll eventually get used to each other. Keep in mind that millions of dogs and cats are unnecessarily put to sleep each year because of behavioral disorders, including household incompatibility. So if you do have problems, ask your local veterinarian who may be able to help or who may refer you to a knowledgeable behavior specialist or trainer.