How To Introduce Your Kitten To An Older Dog

The fam’s growing! 🐶🐱

Are you adding a new kitten to your family and worrying about how your older dog’s gonna take it?

You’re not alone, but don’t worry! Tons of families have been able to make the transition and go on with their happy, fur-filled lives.

It might take a little patience — and definitely some smart planning — but it can absolutely happen.

Just think about all those double snuggles! Here’s how to do it, safely and happily.

How to get started

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Zay Satchu, cofounder and chief veterinary officer at Bond Vet in New York City, to get some tips on how to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“If you have the opportunity, it is a good idea to introduce the new kitten's scent to the dog prior to bringing the kitten home,” Dr. Satchu suggests. “This can be done by bringing in a blanket, towel or toy that has been with the kitten.”

If you don't have a chance to do this ahead of time, try allowing them to smell each other from opposite sides of a door for the first day.

Your new kitten should also have a safe space in a small bathroom or laundry room with their food, water, litter and a bed. “This will help them get used to the new space and will allow the dog to get used to the new kitty's scent,” Dr. Satchu said.

How long does it take a dog to accept a kitten?

This will depend on the dog! Some dogs will require no time to adjust, while others may take several weeks to adjust to a new addition.

One of the best things you can do during the initial stages is make sure you keep your dog’s pre-kitty schedule the same as it was before bringing your kitten home.

This helps to make sure your older dog knows you still love him, and reduces any possible jealousy he might experience with all the attention the new kitten is going to get.

Some dog language to look out for

Since your dog and kitten can’t tell you how they’re feeling with their words, it’s important that you understand some body language when watching their interactions.

“While they're first getting to know one another, having control of your dog’s actions can help to prevent the kitten from becoming fearful of the dog,” Dr. Satchu said. “If you can prompt the dog to sit and be calm, they are less likely to frighten kitty.”

“When they start to interact, don't allow Fido to get too excited; if they do, they should be removed from the room until they relax. Even the friendliest of play can result in injury for a tiny kitten,” Dr. Satchu said.

Make sure they both get plenty of space

“Even if interactions seem to be going well, avoid leaving a small kitten and a dog alone together for at least the first week or so,” Dr. Satchu said.

While they’re getting used to each other, it's not a bad idea to have kitty sleep separate from the dog. “I recommend [doing it] this way so that the dog doesn't feel neglected and associate that with the new kitty,” Dr. Satchu advised.

“Otherwise, if you are present to supervise their interactions, and there isn't any unwanted behaviors they can be allowed in the same room without limitations!” Dr. Satchu added.

If you need more insight on how to get your dog and new kitten safely and happily acquainted, reach out to a trainer or behaviorist for help — and get ready for all the wagging tails and adorable purrs.