BEST LAID PLANS
With the prospect of introducing a new cat into our household, we tried to prepare our family and home as best as any new parents could. We read about introducing cats to new environments, to dogs, to us, new food, a new schedule and to each other (in the event that we brought home two). We were prepared to acclimate the furry little beastie(s) to one room at a time. We fully expected that said beastie(s) might sit under the couch for a week. We thought, perhaps, having the little beastie(s) sleep on a towel and introducing that towel to the dogs could be a beneficial pre-introduction tool. Every aspect of this adjustment had a plan. We would be fully in control.
Oblivious to all our fussing, the animals knew more about getting to know each other than we ever could. The kittens blew past the boundaries of the single room plan. The dogs were sometimes interested, sometimes oblivious, and always perfectly behaved. We kept the pace slow-moving for our own sanity, limiting dog/cat visiting hours for the first few days, always being present in every room and offering guidance to keep things calm. As it turns out, all we really had to do was reassure our spoiled rotten dogs that they would continue to be showered with love and affection. We reassured our kittens that they would always be safe in our arms. Beyond that, we watched our family investigate, occasionally bat and eventually bond. We, for the most part, just got the hell out of the way.
While we tried to anticipate how our dogs would react, what surprised us most is that Emmett has become a surrogate to these kittens. First thing every morning, they flop in front of him and offer their bellies to be licked and sniffed. Emmett, never one to befriend the competition, has taken on his new role with the gentleness and compassion of a proud new father. As our vet, Dr. Tom Phillips, said, “It sounds like pet therapy for pets!”
On the other hand, our Newfoundland, a dog who typically protects small creatures like his Chijuajua friend, Maya, has been a bit unsettled by never-ending kitten antics. Never doing them harm, he prefers to claim his papa’s attention every chance he gets. Only yesterday did the Newf allow Jackson cat to curl up in his belly fur, but that didn’t last long enough for me to grab the camera (and I’m fast). It was good to see him eventually playing with the kittens’ paper bag though. Of course, this makes perfect sense. He thinks he is a big kitty to begin with.
CATS AND DOGS IN ACTION
See our kittens’ first week in their new home, from their introduction, investigation, cohabitation, trepidation, toleration and eventual jubiliation.
A NEVERENDING PROPOSITION
Three weeks in and we’re still learning and adjusting. Generally speaking, I’m glad we had our pre-laid plans. While I give mad props to our “kids” for being so respectful of one another, one never knows when things can take a quick and unpleasant turn. I feel incredibly lucky that all has gone so well from the start.
Have you introduced new animals to pets already living in your household? We’d love to hear about your experiences. What tips and tricks did you find useful? How did it turn out in the end?