Congratulations! You’ve decided to add a new cat or kitten to your household.
You’ve done your research, you’ve had the discussions with family members, and you’re ready. But wait – you already have a cat or dog, and you want to avoid conflicts with existing pets in the house. So how do you do that?
Introducing a new pet can be stressful for both your pets and your family members if they aren’t introduced properly. A new pet needs time to adjust to their new surroundings. They will also have to adapt to new daily life routines in order to assimilate into your family.
Meeting the other pets in the house
One of the reasons many people have for giving up a new pet soon after bringing it home is that their existing pets “didn’t get along” with the new one. One cause for pets not getting along is an improper or rushed introduction.
For example, the family brings the new cat or kitten home and immediately turns it loose in the house. The intention is to let the animals “work it out” themselves, but that usually ends up in a fight. Or it ends with the new cat hiding under a bed or in some other small space because, well… it’s frightened. Of everything. Or they bring a new puppy into the home, and the older dog or cat is just not having it because the puppy is getting in their face.
It’s kind of like being the new kid in school. You don’t know where your homeroom or any of your classes are. You don’t know anybody yet, and all the other kids don’t seem to like you very much. All you want is to find someone friendly enough to guide you through this new place (and to show you where the bathrooms are). Someone who will help you figure out the bell schedule.
A good way to start introducing your new pet to the rest of the household is by not introducing them right away. Keep them separated for a while. Just a couple of days or so, depending on how well they all adjust to the new situation. Let them get used to the smells and sounds in their new environment first. Make sure they have their own bed, bowls, and litter box in a room that you can keep closed off.
The Purina UK website has some excellent tips for introducing your new pets to each other. It’s a really great step-by-step guide that you can follow to ensure that your pets will be able to live happily together.
Meeting the kids
If you have children, make sure to supervise a new pet introduction. Kids can be a bit overwhelming for a new pet. Especially when they are still trying to learn about their new environment and cope with all the different scents and sounds. Your new pet may just want to explore on their own terms and be left alone. Your children need to understand this and give your new pet the space and time she needs. Eventually, she will start to get curious and playful. That’s the perfect time to start teaching your children how to engage with the new pet in a way that will be enjoyable for all.
They can all get along
When you take the time to introduce your pets to each other in a slow and calm manner, things should go well. Everyone will be getting along smoothly in almost no time.
*For more information on introducing new pets into your household, contact the Jackson County Animal Protection Society. Feature photo of Indie and Vlad courtesy of: Niki Kingery ©2020 all rights reserved.