How Do I Get My Kitten To Accept Another Pet?

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

08 August 2019

If you’re an animal lover, the chances are good that you have more than one type of pet — or is planning to have more than one type of pet. The problem then, is how to get them all to “play nice”.
Firstly, you need to keep in mind that kittens who grow up with another type of animal is more likely not to see, for example, their rabbit-buddy as a meal. It is, therefore, a better idea to get your pets together when they are still young. Not only will this make the setup a normal one for them, but there will also not be established territory that a new pet suddenly “trespasses” into.

Cats and other small mammals: puppies, rabbits, and guinea pigs

Many households have dogs and cats that get along very well. Mostly this happens when a puppy and kitten are brought up together. Even then, it may take weeks and not days for your kitten and puppy to get used to each other and accept each other.
One of the best ways to get your puppy and kitten used to each other is to first keep them in separate rooms; giving each their own bed with a blanket. Then, swap the blankets around every few days. This will ensure that both your puppy and kitten get used to each other’s scents before they first meet face-to-face.
You can then slowly start to introduce them to each other, giving them treats for their good behaviour. Start giving them only a few minutes in each other’s company. Build on this time, each time giving them longer time with each other. However, be sure that you are present the whole time that they are together at this stage. They may hurt each other unintentionally while they are playing and you’re not there to step in-between when they get too rough.
Take as much time to get them used to each other as they need, though. Don’t force a fast friendship too quickly and before the kitten and puppy are both ready. This can be especially scarring for rescue pets who may have had unpleasant memories of other types of animals in a shelter or even in their previous home.

Kittens and rabbits

The same steps that is described above for puppies and kittens can be followed to get a house rabbit and kitten used to each other. Again, give each their own safe space and let them smell and get used to each other’s scents before you let them meet face-to-face.
Remember that rabbits can also be quite territorial, so don’t be surprised if there is a bit of bickering between the two at first as they check each other out. However, you should be present whenever you put your rabbit and kitten in a space together. Give them small treats as a reward when they behave well.
However, don’t scold your kitten if they become to eager in their play, as they will start to think that the rabbit or even playing at all is wrong and not that they were just playing too rough. If you see that they are getting too rough with each other, rather take both to their own room again.

Birds and your kitten

Some pets, however, are best left in their own territories. For example, your kitten or adult cat may only watch your zebra finches or other small bird in their cage and show no signs of aggression, but will see them as a cat toy if encountered outside the cage. Even if you have tame birds that you let out of the cage, make sure that you do it in a safe space and not in a room where they can become frightened of your cat and end up being chased or, even worse, caught!

Exotic pets and your kitten

Snakes — especially the larger pythons — are also good to keep away from your kitten. While your kitten may see a baby snake as a toy, a large python will see your kitten as lunch; and you definitely don’t want that. If you do have a snake and a kitten or cat, make sure that the snake’s enclosure is completely closed and sealed to keep them from escaping or a small kitten getting a bit too curious.
Spiders are also best kept away from kittens or cats. Even if they aren’t poisonous, your kitten or adult cat will most likely not make a distinction between “spider I can catch in the home” and your prized pet. The same goes for small reptiles.
Fish are also a common pet to have and is probably the easiest pet to have along with kittens! Because cats overall don’t like water, they won’t try to catch the fish, but will rather just be enthralled watching them swim around in the fish tank. As a precaution you can cover the fish bowl or tank to ensure that your kitten doesn’t jump up and fall into the water, though.
Whenever you let your kitten meet a new pet, make sure that you have the patience to go about it in a secure environment and take enough time to let them get used to each other before taking the chance of leaving them alone. Use your own sixth sense — if you feel uncomfortable, they are probably feeling the same way and it’s better to back off a bit again. Given enough time, though, your pets should become fast friends.

Photo: Snapwire, Pexels


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