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Bringing Home Baby

Cynthia B. Whitney
Reprinted With Permission

Would you like to learn more about your favorite cat breeds or perhaps visit cattery websites, go to http://www.absolutelycats.com and click on the breed you are interested in learning more about.

Do you have a house cat? Are you thinking about getting another one? At least 90% of my pet kitten buyers have a cat at home, and are getting ‘the cat” a playmate. Okay, however you want to justify increasing your feline family, when you have a resident cat, it is a different ball game bringing home a new kitten.

No matter how friendly your resident cat is to your human visitors, if you bring another cat into its domain, you must proceed with caution. And, if your resident cat is not that friendly, you may have a longer period of adjustment ahead, but it is still possible to make it work.

I like to recommend to my buyers that they plan ahead, and try to bring home the new kitten on a long weekend, or when they plan to be home for more than a day or two. This will allow close supervision, and allow the bonding process to take a firm hold.

At first, it would be best to have a separate room for the new kitten. Have a clean litter box, with the same type of litter your breeder has been using, a clean water bowl, and a separate dish for food. Your breeder should review with you what food the new kitten has been eating, and will recommend adult maintenance food. It is important you continue to feed your kitten the same food it was weaned on, at least until it is well settled into your household. This will ensure your kitten will continue to eat and grow, and will actually help reduce the stress factor of getting used to a new home. If you must change the food, do it gradually, and watch closely to make sure the new kitten doesn’t stop eating or get loose bowels.

Let your new kitten investigate the new room freely. Don’t expect it to play with you and sit in your lap the first day. Give it time to feel secure and understand where it is. Introduce a small toy if it looks playful. “Not too much too soon” is a good working strategy.

The key to having your resident cat accept a new feline addition is security. If your resident cat feels threatened by even a small kitten, it will react the only way it knows to protect itself. It will hiss, growl and run away. So, give your resident cat extra attention and maybe even a new toy. Since the smaller the kitten the better, it is helpful to get the youngest kitten you can under these circumstances. Most reputable breeders will not let their kittens go to new homes until at least 8 weeks old, some much later. I question all perspective buyers as to their specific situation and determine on a case by case basis whether a kitten is ready to go to that home. If this has been done, you will have a much better chance of success in having your resident cat accept your new one.

Let the cats introduce themselves naturally. Do not under any circumstances place the new kitten in the resident cat’s face and say “Here you go Buddy, here’s a new playmate.” If you do this you are destined for trouble. Just open that separate room’s door after your new kitten has settled in. He will soon emerge to inspect the remainder of your house. This is when it’s a good idea to be home supervising. Stand back, and let it happen as it happens. If you have a large home, you might want to take the new kitten in your arms and give him a tour the first time. Then put him down on the floor in the center of the living room and let him inspect every smell, texture and sound. He most certainly will find everything interesting, to say the least.

When your resident cat “discovers” the new ball of fluff in his living space, he will watch its every move. Just stand back and watch. If you get nervous, just speak softly to your resident cat, telling him it is okay. Play with him with an interactive toy, like a peacock feather or teaser. This will relax him. The kitten may try to jump in to this game. This is good, but watch the resident cat. If this is too much too soon, retreat.

You will see if you take the time to let the cats feel each other out, that in time, all will be fine. A lot depends on your patience, and your cat’s friendliness. But, I have never had one returned because they couldn’t get along, if this procedure was followed.

When you succeed in having two happy felines in your family, you may start thinking about number three. You know what they say; third time is a charm.