Thursday, June 25, 2009 4:06 PM

Integrating Kittens into the Household

Bringing new kittens home is always a joyous occasion, at least for the human members of the household. The new kittens themselves may not think so at first, but they adjust very quickly. How about the other animals who live with you, particularly other cats? Convincing them of just how wonderful these new additions to your family are will take a little more work. It certainly can be done, and with no (or at least minimal) bloodshed! Here's how we managed it.

Only three days prior to my bringing home the kittens, we had put our 12-year-old male cat, Min, to sleep due to lymphosarcoma. Since then, our female calico Sweet Pea, had been depressed. She and Min had lived together since they were both about one year old, and she now spent much of her time looking for him. Her appetite was suffering, and I was starting to worry. Enter the new kittens! Right away, Pea knew something was up. I immediately stashed the newbies in the downstairs spare bedroom and set them up while Sweet Pea wandered around, taking it all in. After they were settled, I fed her and gave her as much attention as she would tolerate. After a bit, she settled down, with occasional trips to the bedroom doors to peer underneath.

We didn't let the kittens out of their room for several days. When we would disappear into the lair to hang out with them, we could often hear Pea snuffling on the other side of the door, sniffing their scent. When we came out, she'd give us a good sniffing as well, act a bit annoyed, but got over it fairly quickly. We were on our way to domestic tranquility.

After a few days, we let her peek in to see what we had in there. At first, the kittens didn't know what to make of her, and froze. She spat, turned tail and stalked off. But curiosity got the better of her, and she continued to come back for more. As you may expect, the little ones quickly decided they wanted to meet her, but we kept them in and Pea out until they were checked out by the vet, wormed and treated for ear mites. Then, we started letting them out for longer and longer periods of time, taking our cue from not only Sweet Pea, but our own exhaustion from trying to keep them from getting into everything.

I won't say that there were no bumps in the road, but overall this slow and steady method of introduction worked very well. The young ones worked out their own hierarchy, but we made sure that Sweet Pea, who had seniority as far as we were concerned, remained "top cat". We didn't let them give her any guff, although she was allowed to smack them (lightly, of course!) if they got too rambunctious. Friends of ours who adopted the fourth kitten from this litter allowed the newcomer to upset the balance and one of their older cats ran away because of it. Until the day she died, four years later, Pea was given a wide berth by the youngsters, and I truly believe she wouldn't have lasted that long if they hadn't become part of the family. As a matter of fact, Sweet Pea would often choose to sleep at night with the others even though she was the only one allowed to sleep with us! Believe me, if Sweet Pea could make the adjustment, so can your pets.

Movie of the Week: We just saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt. It reminded me quite a bit of Forrest Gump, and we enjoyed it just as much. The makeup work was absolutely amazing.
Chat later!


Anonymous Says:
June 30, 2009 at 9:48 AM

This pic is great! Looks like curiosity makes for great pics.

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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