It has been almost three months since we adopted our black kitten Marlo, and Joe, our flame point siamese, was adopted a little over a month ago. Since then, we’ve done everything we can to make sure our three pets (including our seven-year-old rescue dog) are integrating nicely. Luckily, we’ve had very few problems, and only a couple of minor altercations to speak of. I think that’s all thanks to a few tips I picked while researching how to safely introduce new pets to each other, so I thought I’d pass along the advice that actually worked for us.
When we adopted Marlo, we had our dog, plus one older cat named Ginny. As soon as we brought Marlo home from the shelter, we tucked her away in her own room so that she could get used to us and just a small portion of the house. After a couple of days she was acting settled, so we introduced her to Ginny by letting them first paw at each other under the door, and then with supervised face-to-face interactions. Finally, we let the dog have the same step-by-step introduction to the kitten. It went very easily, I think because our older cat and dog both had such a calm and patient demeanor throughout the process. We lost Ginny to kidney disease only a few weeks after adopting Marlo, but she and the kitten got along great during that time, and Marlo cuddled often with our dog. They were best buds!
Then, we suddenly had the unexpected opportunity to adopt a second kitten, and had to start all over again with the gradual introductions. You can read Joe’s adoption story here (and also find out more about Ginny’s goodbye), but the whole situation was a little more fraught with anxiety from all angles. We had just adopted this special needs kitten who had been through so much in his short life, and then we found out that Ginny’s disease was terminal. We had to say goodbye to our beloved older girl, and then get through that grief all while trying to get another new kitten settled…It was a lot, but we somehow made it work, as you can see in the photos in today’s blog post.
Marlo and Joe are the best of friends now, but they weren’t quite “buddy, buddy” in the beginning. Like with Marlo, we got Joe set up in his own secluded room so that he could acclimate in peace. Unfortunately, this little guy suffered from extreme separation anxiety, which meant he screamed and howled constantly while locked up on his own. I was absolutely determined to make sure he and Marlo could be friends, though, so I kept them separated for about three full days.
It’s worth noting that John and I took turns spending lots of quality time with Joe in his room, so he was very rarely all on his own during this transition period.
Anyway, the kittens hissed and swatted at each other under the door for hours during those initial days, and I really thought it was going to be hopeless, but the one thing that worked for us was feeding them treats together on opposite sides of the door. I would wait until Marlo was as close to the door as possible without her hissing at Joe. Then, I gave Marlo a treat on her side of the door, and tossed a treat under the door to Joe. I did this over and over, all the while coaxing Marlo closer to the door and Joe. Eventually they were calmly eating treats only a few inches apart separated just by the door. I did this a few times throughout the last day, and then I started noticing that the swatting under the door later on after treat time had turned more “playful” than “aggressive.” That’s when I knew they were ready for face-to-face action.
John and I supervised their first official meeting and it went much like we expected—angry swatting and hissing—but we just took things slow, and kept feeding them treats together until they learned to trust each other. It felt like such a miracle when just one day after their first face-to-face introduction I found them playing together up and down the hallways of our home. The next day they were cuddling and grooming each other, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
As for our dog, she’s done a great job with the kittens. She’s very patient and never charges them. Marlo isn’t quite as cuddly with the dog anymore now that she’s grown, but Joe is positively obsessed with the dog. Joe’s in a bit of a biting phase, so we’ve heard our pup bark a warning to the kitten several times when Joe’s cuddling turned into nipping, but so far there haven’t been any major brawls between any of our three pets.
I can’t help but think that our little trio of fur babes was meant to be. We lost Ginny so unexpectedly, and our other older cat Tonks in much the same way only a month before that. This summer has left us grief-stricken, but the kittens have helped us refocus on the good things in life. I think we’re finally on the other side of a really rough summer. Here’s hoping our fall season is a happy, laughter-filled one! Please leave your own pet integration tips in the comments because I know we can learn a lot from each other, and make sure you also check out this post I wrote all about learning how to kitten-proof your home.
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