Introducing a kitten to dog doesn’t have to be complicated — but it will take a lot of patience, love and positive reinforcement. Bringing a young kitten home is exciting. After all, you’re getting a new addition to your family!
Getting your kitten their vaccinations and the right nutrition is important. But you’ll also want to put together a plan to ensure the kitten and your dog will be able to interact safely.
If you’re careful and use common sense, everyone should eventually get along just fine.
Preparing Your Home: Separating Food, Cat Litter, And Offering Safe Spaces
Taking some steps before bringing the kitten home will make the transition smoother. Buy litter, a litter box, a scratching post, a bed, and food and water bowls. Find a safe place for the kitten, such as a spare bedroom, where the kitten can go if he or she feels threatened.
You’ll want to keep your new pet in the other room and close the door at first.
If you prefer to open the door, put a baby gate between that room and the rest of the home.
To get them acquainted, try placing each pet’s food and water on each side of the door, or the gate if you have one.
Try to keep each pet on the same schedule when it comes to feeding time — that way, they’ll associate each other with something pleasant, like delicious food.1
Thinking Of Expanding Your Fur Family? Tips And Tricks For Introducing Kitten To Dog
You know your puppy better than anyone else. So you have a good sense of the temperament of the animal, and whether he or she is prone to aggressive behavior. But even if your dog is typically calm, you’ll want to get him or her ready for the new pet.
It will be very important to give your dog plenty of love, both before and after you bring the kitten home.
You want to make sure your dog knows you will still give the attention they crave. Make it clear you have more than enough affection to go around.
When you do bring the kitten into the home, let them get used to each other’s scent. Put the kitten’s blanket next to your dog’s bed, and vice versa. That way you know each animal will be familiar with the other’s smell before the face to face meeting.
Another good idea will be to swap rooms for a little while. Let the dog go into the kitten’s room, and let the kitten go into the area where the dog normally stays. Keep the kitten in a carrier to be on the safe side. Also, make sure the dog doesn’t get into the kitten’s food, water or litter box.
Watch Body Language Closely
Keep a close watch on the body language of each animal. Hopefully, they’ll both be relaxed. But there’s a chance that the dog may become fixated on the kitten, since some dogs have a strong prey drive. Some dogs may instinctively believe they’re supposed to pursue small animals such as kittens, and that could cause a problem.
If you’re able to distract the dog easily, by either calling or offering a toy, that’s a good sign. That means the dog’s interest in the kitten is not unhealthy. If, on the other hand, the dog’s body stiffens and the eyes stay fixated, you should separate the dog and kitten for a while.
Feline body language is just as important. Does the kitten seem to be calm, or is he or she growling or hissing? Is the kitten scratching at the dog? If the cat seems stressed, that’s another sign you’ll need to keep them separated for a few days.
The First Introduction: Use A Leash And Other Tips To Keep Your Animals Calm
If it seems like the kitten and dog are starting to accept each other, open the door so they can interact. Keep the dog on a leash, and get a firm hold on that leash.
It might also be a good idea to keep the kitten in a carrier. You’ll want to make sure everyone stays safe and secure. Tell your dog to sit and give plenty of praise and affection. If they seem to be getting along fine, take the kitten out of the carrier – but keep the dog on a leash.
Don’t force the kitten to leave the carrier if he or she seems hesitant to do so. Once the kitten is ready to explore the rest of the home, keep the dog on a leash if he or she wants to follow.
Once both the dog and kitten seem comfortable, take the dog off the leash. Even if they seem to be socializing fine, you’ll still need to watch them closely.
Finding Harmony In The Home: Continue Positive Reinforcement
Don’t be discouraged if it seems to be taking too long for your pets to interact calmly. It could take a few weeks for everyone to be at ease. The key is to not try and force anything. Let the relationship progress naturally, on its own terms.
If they’re still not getting along, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet can recommend a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. This trainer will have experience in helping make sure your dog and new furry friend can coexist.
More than likely, however, your kitten and dog will be able to live under the same roof. They might even become best friends and cuddle together! A few weeks of patience could ultimately lead to a lifetime of love.
Fostering a Cat – What Does it Entail and is it Right for You?
How to Introduce Dogs to Each Other
When Can Puppies Leave Their Mother – Do They Miss Their Mom?