How To Introduce Your Dog To A New Kitten

When I was in college, I decided to add my first cat to our family.  I had no idea we were all in for a bloodletting!  He was a beautiful 7 months old Siamese mix and at the time I showed Rottweilers.  I let my dogs outside. Clasped in my arms I brought in the new arrival, and proceeded to bring in my dogs.

They had never been aggressive with animals, but in their excitement they raced toward the new furry feline.  Within milliseconds, he scratched both dogs in the face and proceeded to shred my hands, arms and scalp as he climbed and leaped to the drapes.  We were all bleeding and traumatized!

It is instinct for cats to fear dogs, so a rapid introduction can end in all parties being disconcerted!  Cats can also remember the incident, tarnishing their ability to reside with the other animal.  Cats, in general, don’t like change.  It takes time for them to begin to accept a new environment and a new family.

The first step is finding the right furry feline for your family.  Older kittens and young cats, due to their larger size, are sometimes easier for some dogs to accept.  Often dogs, perceive very small kittens to be prey. If your dog likes to chase small animals use extreme caution, it is essential to provide safety to both your dog and the new cat during this process.

Cats often need several days to several weeks to acclimate to a “safe” environment before getting run of the house.  This time provides them with a chance to get use to their cat box, and bond to new family members on their own terms.  Find a room in which your new kitty can be enclosed and will feel safe.

In the beginning, the dog can sniff under the door to adjust to the new feline and your kitty will get use to the sounds and smells of your dog.  Care should be taken to make sure there is no barking or scratching at the door to gain entrance.

At first, encourage your dog to sniff, then reward with praise and/or treats.  Next, command “Leave It” or “Watch” and reward when successful.  You want to be the most exciting part of this new encounter, and you want to be able to command your dog to leave the cat alone!  Practice several times a day to prepare for the first encounter.  Take time to visit your new kitty and bond.

After several days of successful practice and neither seems apprehensive or excited you may begin embarking on the introduction.  Two people are best, to help with the meeting.  First put your dog on a leash to give you control in case you need it.  Next, fill your pockets with treats so you can teach your dog how to interact with the new feline.  One person will work with the dog while the second person goes into the kitten’s safe home.  The second person should sit on the ground with the door cracked slightly so that the pair can see each other.  If the dog gets excited, use treats to refocus.

You may close the door a bit or totally until the dog is sitting and under control.  Do not permit the dog access to the safe room. Allow the kitten to hide if it feels overwhelmed.  Work at the kitten’s comfort level, keep things short and positive.  Do this step numerous times daily until both parties are ignoring each other and you feel you are ready to progress.

Next, the door can be opened wider; encourage the kitten to explore additional parts of the home.  Have the dog on-leash and reward appropriate behavior.  Your dog should ignore the new cat and look to you for praise and rewards.  Return your kitten to his safe haven after a period of exploration.  Do this several times until you feel you are ready to progress.

Once your kitten is comfortable exploring, and your dog has learned to ignore the new cat and to listen to you in his presence it is time for them to co-exist.  Continue to reward your dog for not chasing or tormenting the new addition.  And, allow your kitten to return to his safe haven when he feels stressed. Keep that area available for several weeks so that your kitten can slowly acclimate to his environment.

This program teaches acceptance and respect which is essential to a happy home!

-This guest post was written by Minette. Look for more from this lovely lady in the near future!

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Comments

  1. Beryl Pioli says:

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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  2. Sarah says:

    I recently got a kitten and have already got a very protective dog. Its been very hard to get my dog to stop acting aggressively at the kitten but this article sounds really promising! 🙂

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  3. judith says:

    wish me luck my neighbour here in spain just gave me a very tiny kitten not sure how old, prob is i have a 10yo collie who is really jealous, shes licked the kittens leg and licks her own lips but i will take it a day at a time and hope they bond , the article was helpful thanks but i am terrified my dog will kill the kitten if i am not super careful

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    Minette Reply:

    Be super careful, and good luck

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  4. Debby says:

    I have a 3 year old Maltese and just brought home a 8mo. old kitty. They seem to be ignoring each other pretty much. I try to divide my time–never owned a kitty before! So far, so good! I did let them bond at shelter before bringing home kitty.

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  5. Steven says:

    I have a 2 1/2 yr old Samoyed who I thought after seeing him with other dogs would love to have a friend. I do not think I could easily take care of another dog so I brought a 6 mnth old kitten into the home. The kitten tries to play often with the dog but the dog seems to only on occasion play back. I do know he is asking for more of my attention now that the kitten is in the home. I just cannot figure out if he would rather be alone of have her company? I have a friend who would take the kitten in a heartbeat and do not know what to do. Will the dog accecpt her longterm or not? They do when playing rub faces and the kitten purrs. I am confused and wish I had all my answers. I put the kitten in a room by herself when I feed her for a few hours at a time to get a break. Oh well anyone have a clue?

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    Minette Reply:

    Everyone and every thing is different, you can’t force someone or something to like someone or something else.

    Acclimating to another pet takes time. The good news is the dog isn’t trying to hurt the kitten, this tells me they will probably get along fine.

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  6. Lamont Holje says:

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

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    Minette Reply:

    Sure, you can email me malinmutt@tds.net or share our articles.

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  7. debbie says:

    I thought my Rottweiler needed a bit more stimuli in her life after my older dog passed so I brought home 2x 9 week old kittens.
    I had prepared a room for them and went through the process of spending some time with them in their safe room while Shar was sniffing on the other side of the door and then I left the kittens to settle in and took the dog out into the living room with me where we just relaxed like everything was normal.
    After about half an hour I went down the hall and opened up the kittens door, leaving it up to them to venture out or not. I had closed all the other doors so that they really only had the option to come out into the living room.
    Less than 10 minutes later they sauntered in view and did the stop freeze arch back thing when they saw Shar lying on the floor at my feet. Shar raised her head and looked at them, she was interested but not predatory and then just dropped her head down again to continue her snooze.
    The kittens realised she meant them no harm and within another half an hour they were walking right past her without a care in the world. Within 24 hours they were following her around totally besotted with the huge black n tan gentle giant.
    I already loved my Rotti bitch but this just made me fall in love with her even more!

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  8. Roger Vanderaa says:

    i am introducing a kitten to my group which consists of 2 active shih shiz dogs . what would you suggest to make this a plesant experience for all. my worries are scratching of the dogs eyes. should i cut the kittens nails first thing and intro. slowly thanks

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  9. Shawna Mcelroy says:

    I received a feral kitten from a friend who is now about 14 weeks old. After a month, the kitten is finally cuddly with me and entered the house today for the first time. However, I have a crazy coonhound mix dog (who loves to chase and hunt) and a black lab. There’s nowhere else for the kitten to go so I’m really hoping that she can get along with the dogs. I plan to follow your article’s advice but any other recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/meet-finnegan-3-legged-cat/

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  10. Cindy Dashko says:

    I have to older dogs and they are barkers. I just got a 4 month old kitten she is a sweetie but trying to have them meet has been stressful. They bark at her in the carrier. They do not listen to me when i tell them to be quiet . I do not now how this will work out.. PRAYING

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  11. Paulina says:

    I just bought a 11 week old kitten, my malteze/shitzu is 5 years old and kooks like he wants to kill the kitten.
    We have the kitten in his saferoom, and are introducing them slowly which is very scary. I hope it will go well in a while as i have fallen in love with this gorgeous kitten.

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  12. Merry says:

    My dog is 14 years old and has been blind for 2.5 years. He just got a new feral kitten from an adoption agency, about 9 weeks old. She is super loveable to her new humans, but really hisses at and swatted the dog 2 times, no blood, not sure contact was even made. House is large and she has lots of alternate routes to get around him but she seems to stalk him, half play, but then growls and yowls no teeth bared, sometimes hiss, but rarely. It’s been 1 full day. What do you suggest? Dog is super mellow and every time she makes a sound at him, he eihter turns slowly and walks away or just lays down in front of her. No stress or prey drive with him ever and certainly not with her now. Help? How will i know we are making progress and that she may like him?

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  13. Jami says:

    I have a coon hound and we adopted a lost kitten he is 8 weeks. My coon just got fixed 2 weeks ago and we are in a new home as well. My dog keeps licking the kitten a lot .. totally soaked and tried to nip it a few times but stopped when told. She is whining non stop and is very pushy…any advise????

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    Minette Reply:

    Put her on a leash and don’t allow it. It is like any other bad behavior, if you can’t control yourself, I am going to give you something else to do… like a down stay. She will learn what her limits with the kitten are.

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  14. Surina Givens says:

    Mine keeps whining at the kitten. Can’t get her to stop

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