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Bonding with Your New Kitten

You’ve brought home a new kitten, and you want it to grow into a loving, happy member of your family. Rolan Tripp answers questions on how to make it happen.
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Q: If I get two kittens, will they become too attached to each other and ignore me?

A: I recommend getting two kittens. Yes, they may be more focused on each other than on you, but they also can take their energy out - biting, scratching, fighting - on each other. Kittens have so much energy. If you don’t give them something to do, they’re going to find something to do.

But if you get two kittens, separate them for periods of time each day so they get used to it, especially for feeding and play sessions with you.

 

Q: Should I keep my kitten in a low-key, quiet environment for a while, or thrust him into our everyday life?

A: Initially it’s good to bring a new kitten into one room. Put his food in there, a scratching post, his bed and let him get used to that.

Then start introducing him to all the things that will be a part of his life. But you have to learn to read the cat. If you introduce your kitten to something and he’s acting fearful - moving away from you and twitching, with tense muscle tone and hyper-alert, step back and take it slower. But if he’s acting friendly and relaxed, you can keep going.

 

Q: Should I keep my kitten away from people, or let everyone who comes in handle him?

A: It’s good for a variety of people to handle a kitten, but it’s also important that all the interactions are gentle and positive during this formative time.

 

Q: At what age should I start introducing the kitten to my other pets, and how should I do that?

A: The best time is between 3-7 weeks. But if it’s later than that, it can still be done. One of the biggest mistakes people make is letting the dog meet the new kitten at the front door. That’s a horrible thing to do to the cat and the dog. The front door is the main spot where the dog defends his property. Instead, wait until both are relaxed, then, with the dog on a leash, rub the body of the kitten on the dog. What we want here is scent transfer. While you do this, give the dog treats. You want the dog to think good things happen when the kitten is around.

And do not let the dog chase the cat. That’s another big mistake people make. If the dog chases the cat, interrupt it every time. That’s very stressful to the cat and quickly establishes a bad pattern with the dog.

Introducing a new cat to the resident cat can be a bit harder. I recommend starting with feeding the cats on either side of a door. Make sure your cat is hungry, and throw some good treats in with the food. Again, we want the animal to think that good things happen when the kitten is around.

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