Introducing Your New Kitten To the Rest of the Family

Bringing home a new kitten

Introducing your new kitten or cat to the rest of your pet family takes a little thought, patience and timing. You can introduce an adult cat the same way you do a kitten, but you may need a little more patience for success.

Other cats and dogs in the household

You cannot assume your other pets will just accept a new kitten even though your house is a more than one pet household. Older dogs and cats may not tolerate the antics of a newcomer, especially a lively, naughty kitten. Give older pets extra attention and treats so they associate the new kitten with positive experiences.

Kitten’s first days in your home

Isolate your new kitten from the rest of the household when you bring it home. Setup up a special place just for kitty with water and food bowls, kitty litter, toys and a bed. A spare room makes an ideal temporary space while kitty settles in and gets used to you, and you have time for a vet check. It also gives the rest of the pack time to get used to a newcomer in the house without exposing the kitten to potential aggression.

Leave the kitten in its special place for short periods at a time at first to explore its new home. Visit often and coax the kitten to come out to interact with you. Reward its efforts with treats, a game and love. Do not push too hard or too fast. Let the kitten do things in its own time.
When your kitten joins the rest of the household, keep your cats’ water and food bowls, and kitty litter trays separate. They may not like to share.

How to help your kitten get to know you

Animals use scent to greet each other. Most likely the rest of the pack is micromanaging the smells at the bottom of the closed door. Rub a cloth gently on the kitten’s cheek to get its scent and rub the scent on your other cats’ cheeks and vice versa so they get to know each other before meeting. Do this for a few days to gauge your pack’s reaction.

When your pets are ready to accept meeting your kitten, a dog will happily ask you to open the door and a cat will sit there purring. If they show signs of stress, such as the dog barking or the cat hissing at the door, have patience and wait a few more days.

When everyone is calm, put your dog on a leash and open the door slightly so they can see each other and have a good sniff face-to-face. Make sure you are close to supervise the situation. Do this for a short time several times to gauge their reaction. When you think everything is calm and friendly let them interact freely together without any pressure, but keep your dog on a leash until you know it can be trusted.

Keep doing this for short periods of time until everyone gets along. Use treats and praise to reward good behaviour. Never leave your kitten unsupervised with the rest of the pack when you are not home. Pop kitty into its safe place whenever you are out to keep everyone safe, and for your own peace of mind while not at home to supervise.

Tell us what worked best for you when you first introduced a new cat to your household below.