Feline Care & Feeding in Dartmouth: Introducing a New Kitten

dartmouth veterinarianStudies show that most people who adopt a new kitten likely already have at least one other cat in the home. Cat people are just like that. Whether this is your first new kitten in a while or if you are just concerned about the current dynamics in your home, it is still a good idea to brush up on the latest feline care and feeding, as well as new pet owner tips. Every cat is different. They have different backgrounds, needs, requirements, and behaviors. Start each new pet relationship with a visit to your veterinarian in South Coast. A first-time check-up is a good idea, regardless of what the shelter or pet adoption center has already provided for your new kitten. Schedule an appointment at our Dartmouth animal hospital, and bring along any paperwork, shot records, or exam information that you might have. This will help our team provide you and your new pet with the most comprehensive care possible.

Step One: Create a Safe Space for the New Kitten

While your other cat or cats might have free roam of the household, your new family member should have a “safe space” that will help him or her to become adjusted to the sounds, smells, and experience of your home. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when bringing home a new kitten or cat is just dropping the new pet right in the middle of the living room with the hopes that everyone will just get along. Cat owners know that each animal has its own distinct personality and that there is a clear hierarchy within each home. This safe space will help your kitty get used to your home and allow your existing cats to feel less threatened by any outside smells from the breeder, shelter, or adoption center.

Be sure to include a bed, toys, litter box, fresh water, and food. Try to keep the kitten in the room for at least one to two weeks before introducing them to your other cats. Have the safe space ready for your new kitten before you go to pick them up, so you don’t have to rush around or shoo the other cats out of the room before bringing them inside. A bedroom with an attached bathroom is ideal, but any room where the other cats can’t get into will work.

Step Two: Schedule Vet Appointments

After the initial check-up, be sure to schedule vaccinations and return visits with your trusted veterinarian in South Coast. Before your new kitten comes in contact with any other pets – including cats and dogs – make sure you get a clean bill of health for parasites, diseases, and all other issues that could pose a danger to anyone else. Keep up with the booster shot appointments for all vaccinations at the Dartmouth animal hospital and don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you might have about your new pet.

Step Three: Create a “Scent Introduction”

This technique can be very helpful to allow both the kitten and your existing cat or cats get to know each other before the first face-to-face meeting. Take a clean sock, washrag, or towel and wipe it gently around the kitten’s chin, face, and ears where their “marking” scent glands are located. Bring the item to your other cat or cats and allow them to smell the kitten ahead of time. Do the same thing in reverse, bringing the smells on a different clean item to the kitten from the other cats.

Feline care and feeding includes a lot more than just buying the right food or knowing when kitty needs a bath. Once you get the all-clear from your veterinarian in South Coast, remove the kitten from the safe room and put them in another closed room. Bring your cat or cats into the safe space and allow them to hang out there for about an hour. Don’t remove the litter box, water, or food, but allow your resident cat to sniff, nibble, drink, and even use the litter box. While the resident cats are in that space, bring the kitten out to explore the rest of the house so he or she can get used to all the rooms in your home.

Step Four: The Big Day

Once you think your kitten and resident cats are ready to meet, consider still using a barrier for safety to prevent any scratching or fights. A baby gate between the kitten and other animals can be a great way for them to see, smell, and figure out how they feel about each other. Be aware that in most cases, you will hear a bit of hissing or low growling as the kitten and cat get near each other. Be patient with the process and don’t give up. Once the cats are calm in each others’ presence, you can remove any barriers that were put up and allow them to get closer. This type of introduction must be supervised, and if there are any problems, take a small step back and try again after some time has passed.

Got Questions? Contact your trusted veterinarian in South Coast at Dartmouth animal hospital. Our team can offer a wide range of advice and support for feline care and feeding, and assist with new pet owner tips for cats, dogs, rabbits, and other common domesticated pets in the Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island area. Give us a call at 508-996-3731 to schedule an appointment or to speak with one of our team members.