How can I introduce my new kitten in the family to my other pets?

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Answered by: Jeni, An Expert in the Your Relationship with Your Cat Category
Congratulations! So you have a new kitten in the family, or you're thinking about adding one. Bringing a new tiny feline home can be simultaneously wonderful and exasperating, especially if you have other pets or children. Introducing this new addition to other family members doesn't have to be a difficult process though, as long as you take careful steps to ensure it goes smoothly.

When introducing the new kitten in the family to your children, the most important thing to remember is the safety of everyone involved. If your child is younger (under 5), you need to be aware of the risk of scratches or bites as he or she tries to cuddle the new furbaby, and also the risk to the kitten if your child cuddles a little too hard. With older children (6-10), you don't have to worry as much about them loving the kitten right into an emergency kitty hospital, but you do still need to warn them about the dangers of scratches and bites.

The best way to prepare your children for this is to remind them how they felt when they first started a new class at school, or went to a party where they didn't know anyone. Tell them the kitten is feeling scared and shy just like that, and the way kittens deal with that is by scratching or biting to protect themselves. Encourage them to speak softly and move slowly at first, and to pet gently only as long as the kitten seems to be okay with it.

The process is a little quicker and easier when it comes to introducing your new kitten to the four-legged members of your family. If you have a dog or dogs at home, rub a small blanket along their backs to soak up their smell, and then take it with you to pick up your new addition. Wrap the kitten in the blanket (which begins to acclimate it to the dog's scent), and when you get home, place the blanket in the dog bed or place where the dog sleeps (this acclimates the dog to the kitten's scent). Over time, their scents will naturally mix with the rest of your household and will no longer be strange to either one.

With other cats, the introductions are even simpler. Upon bringing the new kitten home, have someone else enter the house holding it. Your cats will be curious and will come to see what has just entered their kingdom, so they should be relatively easy to find. Once they come close, rub your hands along their faces at the base of their whiskers, and then do the same thing to the kitten in the same location on its face.

Cats and kittens excrete an invisible substance from their glands on their faces that help them "mark" things with their scent. This is why you see them rub up against things with the sides of their face, including people and other animals - it's how they mark what is their territory. And as we cat owners know, it's ALL the cat's territory! Go back and forth between your cat(s) and the kitten in this fashion, mixing the scents of their glands, and then it should be safe to slowly bring the kitten down to floor level so they can all get to know each other.

The love and laughter a new pet can provide is immeasurable. I truly hope these simple tips can make the adjustment of adding a new little one to your furry family easy and stress-free.

Happy petting!

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