4 steps to introducing a new kitten into your home

Adding a new kitten can bring lots of love and happiness to a household. But when you already have another cat or a dog in your home, introducing a kitten into the dynamic can be challenging.

Your resident cat or dog most likely won’t be too pleased with sharing their home and their owner’s attention with a new animal. But with careful planning, and lots of patience and positive reinforcement, your whole household can happily co-exist.

We take you through 4 steps to introducing a new kitten into your home with the least amount of stress possible.

We take you through 4 steps to introducing a new kitten into your home with the least amount of stress possible.

Create a separate space for the kitten

For the first week or so, provide your new kitten with a secure space of their own that can’t be accessed by the other pets in your household. Ideally, this should be a room that your pets haven’t used too much in the past, such as a spare bedroom, office, or laundry. This will provide your kitten with the time and space to adjust to their new surroundings before meeting their new furred family members. Make sure your kitten has everything they need in this space to make them comfortable, including kitty litter, bedding, food, water, and plenty of toys.

Switch rooms or bedding

Once your kitten is feeling a little more at home, it’s a good idea to start introducing the scent of your other animals. This can be done by allowing your kitten to spend some time in a room that your other pet spends a lot of time in. As it’s still early days at this stage, you will need to make sure that your other animals are secured in another room or outside during this time. Another option is to switch your pet’s bedding around to introduce each pet’s scent to each other. Don’t be worried if your resident cat hisses when introduced to the smell of your new kitten – this is perfectly normal. Make sure you continue to give all your pets lots of attention during this transition time to ensure they feel well-loved and relaxed.

Use a carrier or crate for introductions

Once your pets are used to each other’s scent, and are displaying calm behaviour, the next step is to introduce them face-to-face. The best way to do this is by having your kitten in a pet carrier or crate for the initial introductions. This allows the kitten to feel safe and secure while allowing your pets to closely interact. Again, be prepared for some hissing and growling from your resident cat.

With dogs, it’s a good idea to start with a bit more distance between the dog and the carrier, and gradually reduce this depending on the dog’s behaviour. You should also commence this process with your dog on a leash during these early interactions.

Take your time

Introducing a new kitten to your other pets needs to be a slow process. Take your cue from the animal showing the most stress, and pace the introduction based on their behaviour. Once your pets have had multiple interactions with the kitten in its carrier, and aren’t displaying overly excitable or aggressive behaviour, the next step is for them to meet without any barriers between them.

When introducing the kitten to a dog without the carrier, start with them at either end of the room, with your dog closely leashed, and the cat held by another person. Your dog will initially be overly excited, so take your time in repeating these interactions, moving closer as your dog’s behaviour improves. Don’t forget to praise your dog and give them treats if they are calm. For most dogs, once they see the kitten as part of the household, they will stop becoming over excited and try to chase it, however this process may take up to a week or more.

Directly introducing the kitten to your resident cat or cats is more about monitoring their interactions. Expect your older cat to be jealous and view the kitten as a threat. There will be more hissing and growling during this time. Stay in the room while they are together and distract them if the behaviour becomes more aggressive. If they start fighting, break them up and separate them immediately and try again later. Give your older cat attention and treats if they remain calm.

Continue with these supervised interactions until you are certain that the pets are safe and content to be around each other. This may take a few days – or many weeks – depending on the temperament of your pets.

If introducing your new kitten to your household is taking longer than you expect, or if any of your pets are becoming particularly stressed then it’s worth having a chat to your vet for advice.

From late July, the Cameron Veterinary Services will be expanding, opening a new clinic in Springwood Place, East Gawler, dedicated to treating small animals. We look forward to being able to look after your dog or cat soon!