ALA Submissions‎ > ‎

A New Friend

posted May 31, 2017, 8:28 AM by Eli Roberts

By Tiffany L.

Tiny, cuddly creatures all packed together as one: tans, whites, blacks, and pale oranges. With the hope of having a new home, their little eyes stare out from behind the cold glass. People walk by, hear their soft meows, and often want to take a tiny ball of fluff home. Unfortunately, they do not. Why is this? Well many of these potential owners already have cats or dogs. This leads them to believe that adopting a brand new kitten would be too difficult, which isn’t necessarily true.  Two years ago I was in the same position as these pet owners. I too had mixed emotions about bringing a kitten home to my cat that was already a year old. I was eager to find a friend for my cat, but I didn’t want to upset her. After going back and forth, it was the Humane Society that helped me make my final decision. They provided me with specific steps on how to introduce the little kitten to my cat without causing stress, trauma or anxiety for either one of them. How does this work? Let’s find out.

 Before starting the introduction process, the future cat owner must be prepared. To ensure that the new kitten is happy and comfortable he or she will need a litter box, food, water, toys, a scratching post and some type of bedding. The new cat owner must also preselect a place in the house for the kitten to stay that is separate from the resident pet(s).  Ideally this particular place needs to have an actual door for separation.  Lastly, the owner should be aware that it could take up to a month to complete this process.  The time frame will ultimately depend on the pets.

Feeding. The first step is to introduce the new kitten’s scent to the resident pet.  This can be done easily through feeding. With the new kitten on one side and the resident pet on the other, place the food and water bowls close to the door but not directly in front of it.  Each day the owner should move the bowls a little bit closer to the door until the pets are able to eat peacefully while standing on either side. This step is extremely important because it gives the kitten and resident pet a chance to associate something enjoyable with each other’s scents. Veterinarians say this is a nice little trick that gets the pets to move closer together. Hopefully, after a day or two, the animals are playing and batting paws under the door.

The Switch. At this point the pets are exchanging swaps with their paws and calmly eating next to the door. Now the owner should switch the pet’s blanket or bedding and place it near the food and water bowls. This is yet another strategy that is used to expose the pets to each other’s scents. The resident pet will probably get more upset about this than the kitten, mainly because the resident pet is more familiar with all the scents in the home. To the kitten, everything is new. Remember the newcomer was used to having a ton of scents around him or her at the animal shelter. The owner needs to make sure to comfort both pets during this fragile time.  The goal is to keep their stress levels low. If this small switch is successful and the pets are able to remain calm, it is time to get more extreme! If the switching of the blanket/bedding was unsuccessful, repeat this step until they are comfortable.

New Territory. It’s time for the extreme!  The cats are about to be completely submerged in each other’s scents. Physically place the kitten into the cat’s territory and visa versa. Both pets will wander around investigating the new mysterious area.  The owner should prop open the door only enough to allow the pets can see each other face to face. Do not put the pets together!  They still should be confined to their separate areas.

The Meeting. The last and final step has arrived. The pets know each other’s scents and have been in each other’s territory. Now it is time to let them free. For many pet owners, myself included, this is the most difficult step. After all their hard work the pet owner can only hope that the two animals get along. When the pets meet for the first time the owner needs to be present. The pets may just stare at each other, letting out a hiss periodically or they may fight. If the pets start to fight aggressively, the owner should make a loud clapping noise or do something to distract them. Never try to break up a fight by picking one of the animals up.  This could lead to a serious injury! If the kitten and resident pet continue to fight the owner may have to start the introduction process over or consult a veterinarian.

In the last two years, 80% of the pet owners who followed the steps had favorable outcomes. This percentage is based on the adoption of kittens, but many pet owners tried out the process with new puppies as well. According to their testimonials, they only had to make a few modifications to the steps. Thanks to this introduction process I was able to find a friend for my cat and save a kitten all at the same time!  If potential owners follow these specific steps, they too could adapt a pet, and have great success just as I did.