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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: 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.

If there is hissing and growling, back the bowls up until it stops and then slowly move them closer each time you feed them. But if everyone is relaxed, you can proceed with introductions.

When you do finally get them together, have little pieces of turkey, chicken, hotdogs, or whatever they like and keep feeding them that.

 

Q: My kitten is biting and scratching! What can I do to make him stop?

A: Rough hand boxing with a cat is a recipe for an aggressive cat that will bite and scratch you and everyone else. Instead, train your kitten not to bite hard or scratch. There’s a concept called bite pressure inhibition training. The way it works is, when the kitten playfully grabs your hand and bites down on it, you yelp, cry, and stop playing. What I tell people is, think of the most pressure you’d want your cat to use on a 1-year-old baby and use that as your point of reference. So it’s not how hard you’ll let them bite you, but how hard would you let them bite a 1-year-old?

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