If you're thinking about adding a kitten or puppy to your household and already have an adult cat, odds are he isn't going to like the idea at first. That doesn't mean the new pet won't eventually become his best friend forever, but it takes some time and patience.
Kittens and Cats
How your adult cat will react and interact with a new kitten depends a lot on his innate "purrsonality." Laid-back, friendly cats might not have much of an issue with a kitten, but nervous or aloof felines could take a while to come around. However, adult cats usually accept kittens far more easily than new grown cats in the home. For best results, choose a kitten of the opposite sex of your grown kitty.
Introducing a Kitten
Choose a quiet period in your household for the introduction. Felines are quite territorial, so a new kitten will probably be a big deal for Kitty. Provide separate feeding dishes and litter boxes for each animal, preferably in different parts of the house. Keep the felines apart for a day or two, allowing them to smell items belonging to the other. Introduce them briefly to gauge the older cat's reaction. Keep them together for longer periods each day until some kind of feline friendship or truce develops. Spend lots of quality time alone with your adult cat so he doesn't feel you're neglecting him for your new kitten.
Puppies and Cats
Bringing a new puppy into your adult cat's domain is a different story than adding a kitten. Kitty might find the new kitten annoying initially, but they're the same species and speak the same "language." Puppies are foreign creatures with no common communication system. When looking for a puppy, take your cat into consideration. Avoid adopting a breed with a high prey drive, which includes most terriers. These canines are wired to hunt smaller animals, and might never really relax around cats, even if they don't harm them.
Introducing a Puppy
Before the actual introduction, let the pets sniff each other's belongings, such as beds. When it comes time to make a formal introduction, put your puppy's harness and leash on so you have some control. Make the introduction in an area that provides ample opportunities for Kitty to get out of the way, either by leaving the room or jumping onto a high shelf. It's the rare first meeting of puppy and cat that goes swimmingly, so don't be upset if Kitty growls, hisses and runs off. Puppy is probably very excited, but keep him as calm as possible and let him know with a strong verbal correction that chasing cats is a bad idea. Confine the puppy to a crate or specific area of the house so that the cat feels secure in his territory. It might be months before you can leave them alone unsupervised. With dogs and cats, the expectation isn't that they'll be best pals -- although that can happen. The goal is mutual toleration. Ignoring each other is a good thing.
- Animal Humane Society: Adding a New Cat to Your Household
- Cat World: Introducing Cats - How To Introduce a New Cat
- Messybeast: Living Together -- Introducing a New Cat
- Cesar's Way: Cats and Dogs
- Paw Rescue: Introducing a New Dog to a Resident Cat (Part 3 of 3)
- Washington Area Humane Society: Introducing a New Dog to a Cat
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.