So, you’ve kitten-proofed your home, you’ve put all of the essentials in place and you’ve given your kitten all of the tools necessary to grow up healthy, what’s next? Well, there’s only one thing for it, a little meet and greet!
Let’s take a look at how to integrate a kitten into a household that has small children or already has pets.
When introducing your kitten to other members of the household the key is to do so in a gentle and gradual manner. It will take time for your kitten to become used to his/her surroundings and the last thing they need is to be scared out of their wits by an over friendly child.
Make sure that your kitten has a quiet and safe place to retreat away from everyone; a place that is high up and hard to reach for others can also be comforting for your kitten as he/she grows.
An important lesson your children will need to learn is that a kitten is not a toy – they should not pick up the kitten but sit down to wait for the kitten to come and investigate them. If the kitten does then start to play and interact, then make sure that your children know that playtime stops when the kitten has had enough, do not let your children hassle the kitten, if a kitten goes back to bed then he/she should be left to do so undisturbed.
Explain that not only do kittens like to be left alone when they are asleep, but also when they are eating. You’ll also need to help your children to learn that kittens can become frightened when people make sudden movements, try to grab them, shout or make loud noises.
Of course, the best way to teach children is to lead by example – if you treat your kitten gently with love and respect, then your children will be likely to do the same.
Growing up with a cat can be an amazing experience for small children and many will view their cat as their best friend, talking to him/her about feelings or thoughts they have on their mind. Through this friendship children can learn all about care, empathy, love and trust – morals that help a child grow into adulthood.
Other Pets of the Household
Introducing a kitten to already established pets of your household can be somewhat trickier. A great way to steadily introduce your new kitten into the other pet’s everyday life and routine is to purchase a large mesh pen where your kitten can stay safe whilst your cat or dog gets used to them being there. This will allow your kitten to explore their own little area whilst giving your cat or dog time to adjust to the new presence.
If you have a dog then you should keep him/her on a lead at all times when in the presence of your new kitten. You’ll need to keep your dog calm and sat down so that he/she understands that the kitten is not a threat or an animal that he/she can go for. Your dog needs to learn that the kitten is equal and a part of family. This will take time and it is essential that your dog is rewarded positively whenever he/she is around the kitten. Of course, if you have a dog that chases any cat it sees outside, or has a high drive/instinct to chase smaller animals, then maybe getting a kitten isn’t the best option.
Generally, introducing a kitten to a cat isn’t as hard but you’ll still need to make sure that both are given time to adjust. Cats are very territorial and may initially become jealous of the kitten and hiss whenever they are around. If this is the case try to give your cat more attention when in the presence of the kitten. If your cat likes cuddles then one of you could cuddle him/her whilst the other holds the kitten, introducing them each time in a slow and gradual manner.
Essentially, you’ll need to protect your kitten whilst allowing your other pet time to become used to their scent and presence around the home.
When it comes to helping your pet to get along with your new kitten, there are different approaches and techniques suggested by a great deal of animal behaviourists. If you’re still having trouble integrating your new kitten into the household with your other pets, then contact your veterinarian who will be able to recommend an expert in cat or dog behaviour.
Insuring your kitten gives you peace of mind that you and your pet will be covered if anything unexpected were to happen. At Animal Friends we offer a range of policies for cats, dogs, horses and we also insure older pets.
Please note – this article is for advice purposes only and should not be treated as an official document.