Introducing Kittens To Dogs

It is important to socialize kittens with dogs at an early age.  Here are my recommendations for the process:

1)  Establish a safe room for the kitten(s).  Give them plenty of time to acclimate to their new environment before introducing them to a dog.  During the adjustment phase, spend extra time with the dog working on their obedience skills of sit, stay, down, come, relax and leave it.  Use a head collar to provide extra control.
2)  Allow the dog and kitten to experience each other's scent through towels and rugs.  After one days use, place the kitten's towel in the dog's bed and vice versa.  In my experience, the dog will spend much more time sniffing the towel and rolling on it than the kitten. 
3)  Feed the kitten on one side of the door while the dog has treats on the other side.  The idea is to teach the dog to associate the kitten with good things. 
4)  Allow the kitten to explore the house without the dog around and vice versa.  When both animals are comfortable with all of the above, it is time for a face to face introduction.
5)  Before the initial meeting, tire the dog and the kitten out with vigorous exercise.  For the first meeting, I let both animals view each other from a distance.  Place a head collar on the dog and place them on a down stay with a handler.  On the other side of the room, have another person hold the kitten in their lap.  Allow the animals to look at each other.  If both are calm and curious, move them closer together.  Stop immediately if either displays signs of stress. 
6)  When both are comfortable with visual contact, allow them to interact.  I usually place the dog on a down stay and let the kitten approach.  Keep firm control of the dog via the head collar and leash.  Reward the dog for calm behavior.  When the dog is bored with the whole process, it is time for the last step.
7)  Give the dog and kitten supervised access to each other.  Start out with short periods of time and stay close to prevent injuries.  Keep a blanket close at hand just in case you need to break-up a fight.  Do not allow the kitten to play rough with the dog.  Reward each for good behavior.  Gradually increase the time they are together.  Always make sure the kitten has an escape route if something goes wrong. 
8)  Some kittens will unmercifully pester their canine companions.  Be sure to give the dog breaks by returning the kitten to their safe room.  It is unfair to the dog to expect it to put up with a youngster who is constantly chewing on its ears or biting its legs.  

Although I have had great success using the above steps, their are some dogs and cats who will never live peacefully with each other.  So be careful when adding a new member to the family.  Remember, a dog that is great with cats might not tolerate a kitten because of their immature behavior.  Below I have included a video of my dog Buddy and the foster kittens.  As you will see, he finds four of them curious but a bit overwhelming.  Enjoy! 
   

 

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  • 9/1/2009 4:00 AM MJ Kneiser wrote:
    HAHA...I love how they all decide to follow him down the hallway! "hey guys, it's mom! let's go!" So cute.
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  • 9/2/2009 3:56 PM v.t. wrote:
    Oh how sweet! More like Buddy is practically herding them, LOL.

    You didn't waste any time, did you! I love the article, very well-thought out and appropriate, I wish more owners would spend as much time and commitment toward slow and gentle intros, as opposed to simply forcing them and ending up with a disaster.
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  • 9/13/2009 6:43 AM tjc wrote:
    Myself and my son are fostering two kittens and we have a 10.5 female golden retriever...she is not used to kittens so this article was very helpful. Thank you.
    Reply to this
  • 9/13/2009 10:40 AM Lisa wrote:
    sophie wants more videos of buddy and a kitten but daddy and broo say no to the kitten
    Reply to this
  • 1/24/2010 6:52 PM ceekaay wrote:
    This is exactly the kind of article I was looking for! I found a kitten by the trash can just before thanksgiving so I brought him in the house with my papillon and mini dashchund - it did not go well. He terrorized them, the bites becoming more and more vicious, everyone chalking it up to 'kitten play' until they saw it in person. I feel like it was my fault because I didn't take the steps you've listed here to introduce them, I gave them a few days to sniff each other thru the door because that was the only advice I'd found. Maybe I did it all wrong, maybe he wasn't a 'dog' cat - I am not sure but I had to make the best decision for my family and let him go. He has since been rehomed to a fantastic family with an adult cat and 3 kids where he is thriving. I really loved having a kitten around and wanted to know the appropriate way to introduce them if I ever decide to bring another kitten in our home. I really appreciate this information and I am sure it will come in handy someday. thank you! i love the video of buddy and the kittens too. :)
    Reply to this
    1. 1/25/2010 8:03 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thanks for the kind words.  You sound like a caring person and I hope you try another cat when you are ready.  -Dr. Nelson
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  • 4/28/2010 1:10 AM Hannah wrote:
    Very nice tips and thoughts on introducing cats and dogs. The number 5 tip I think is all new but effective step, especially for super active and young dogs and cats.
    Reply to this
  • 5/2/2010 6:55 AM Gemma wrote:
    I found your website while hoping to learn the best age to socialize the kitten to dogs. I am trying to decide between 2 kittens. Both are from loving homes and are well-cared for and are being handled by adults. The difference is this: #1 is already being exposed to dogs and children before the age of 11 weeks while #2 has not been exposed to dogs or children at all, so it would be up to me to expose the kitten to these factors. I will receive either kitten I choose around 12 wks old. I would love to know if it will make a substantial difference in the kittens' nature and ability to socialize with dogs and children to be confronted with them at the earlier age. Do you have any thoughts on this or do you know where I could locate further guidance about this question? Thank you so much Dr Nelson.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/2/2010 9:54 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes, early positive exposure to kids and dogs will make a big difference in how these kittens view the world.  There are some critical socialization windows that occur before 12 weeks of age that have a lasting impact on the kitten.  This does not mean that the kitten without exposure cannot be acclimated to dogs and kids.  But it will take more work on your part. 

      If you love each kitten, I would recommend adopting both!  It may not be possible to get both, but often kittens do so much better having a buddy.  The less socialized kitten will adapt to dogs and kids more quickly with the sibling setting an example.  I recommend that you set them up in a safe room for a few days to get comfortable with the smells and sounds of the new environment.  The notion of a safe room is vital to cats and for more information on that concept, see my posts on Feral Cats.  Once they are comfortable, slowly start letting them out for supervised exploration. 

      Congratulations on the new edition(s)! 
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  • 5/2/2010 9:38 PM Gemma wrote:
    Thank you! I really appreciate your advice.
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  • 6/1/2010 12:36 PM Silva wrote:
    I own a 10 years old Amstaff, now he is really more calm than in past. As I moved in a house with a big garden in country I would like a cat too. An 11 weeks old kitten is too old to introduce him to the dog? Thank you very much Silva
    Reply to this
    1. 6/2/2010 6:21 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Cats of any age can be successfully introduced to dogs as long as you introduce them slowly.  Kittens less than 20 weeks in age are ideal.  Until you know how the dog will react, always supervise the visits to make sure the kitten stays safe.  Thanks for the question and good luck with the introduction!
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  • 6/30/2010 5:30 PM Betsy wrote:
    Loved your article! We are getting 2 new kittens....siblings both 7 weeks old next week. We have a 3 & 14 year old cat, 2 older labs and a 5 year old brittany. My concern is the brit. The brit has a very strong prey drive and has chased one of our cats but leaves the other one alone. He has gotten into a scuffle with a raccoon also. I plan on keeping all the cats in our "cat room" which is dog safe. How do I introduce the kittens to the brit without incident? I am thinking of using high rewards for him with real chicken as well as the leave it command. He gets a ton of exercise and is usually tired for the night but is not always the best listener if something has his attention. Honestly, I am a bit nervous about his reaction. What about his Gentle Leader collar? Would that help? Any suggestions are more than welcome. The shelter has offered many suggestions but the more I hear the more confident I am feeling.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/2/2010 8:38 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congratulations on the new kittens.  You are correct that Brittany spaniels usually have a high prey drive.  If it moves, they want to catch it!  I would strongly recommend a head collar, either a Gentle Leader or a Halti, to give you better control.  You might also want to get a basket muzzle that allows the Brittany to drink and open its mouth but not bite or eat.  Establishing a safe cat room is very important.  I would never leave the cats and kittens out with the Brittany without supervision.

      Since your dog is tired at night after a long day of exercise, I would start the introductions then.  Follow the phases outlined in the post and slowly progress from one to another.  You must be extremely careful with kittens as they do not possess the knowledge, experience and physical abilities of adult cats.  Sometimes, they do not have sufficient fear either and proceed with reckless abandon into any situation.  My kitten Mauka fits this profile.  He simply does not understand proper cat protocol.  This led to more than a few hisses from my adult cats.  
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  • 7/3/2010 6:34 AM Betsy wrote:
    Thank you for your response. I am still very anxious about this whole introduction. Gunnar,the brit, does not bother Toby, our 14 year old at all! So I know that he can leave cats alone. Should we have both kittens at one time during the introduction or just one? Also, one dog at a time? I would think that all three would be overwhelming and since they have that pack mentality this may be a bit crazy on my part! The labs are pretty laid back but one will whine and nudge our 3 year old cat. Ugh! Wondering if I am doing the right thing! Rescue is a good thing....introductions are not!
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    1. 7/5/2010 7:37 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I would recommend keeping the kittens together and introducing them to the dogs one at a time.  Keep the kittens in a carrier so they can see the dog but are still safe.  Once they are comfortable with that, put the dog in a crate and let the kittens approach the dog when they are ready.  When they ignore each other they are ready to meet the dog on a leash.  Give the dog the "settle" command so it is lying down and calm when the kittens approach. 

      Again, remember to introduce them slowing.  If the kittens seem fearful or the dog becomes restless, stop right away and go back to the last phase in the introduction plan.  And never leave the kittens or cats alone with the dog without supervision. 
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  • 7/31/2011 3:48 PM Anowa wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson.
    I got a new kitten about 3 days ago and it was absolutely TERRIFIED of me when i first got it. I'm not sure if that makes it semi-feral because it was brought from a friends house where the people don't pay any particular attention to the cats.(not sure about its age either but it eats solid food and it's about the size of a small rat)
    today was a major turning point for us after three days of waiting patiently for the kitten to calm down. i followed some advise from the internet that said I should try keeping it in a small room like a bathroom at first, with a cage, food and water. we couldn't get a cage so i substituted that for a box with pencil holes, some bedding and a teddy bear.
    the kitten however favored the gap behind the sink which i realized too late that i had to block. i noticed however that the food was being eaten and the litter box being used whenever i visited. i didn't see the kitten till today when i decided to try getting it out but settled for petting it through the gap...and then it started to purr!

    i was so relieved because my research told me some feral/semi-feral kittens can never be tamed, and that it could take as long as 2-6 weeks to tame one. now that it is confident enough to climb into my lap for a petting session,(and even comfortable enough to accidentally do a tiny number two in my lap as well) is it okay to introduce it to my dog? when would be the appropriate time?
    we've never had cats since we got the dog about four years ago as a puppy...also i live in Ghana by the way and I'm going back to college in about a week. I'm wondering if that's enough time to introduce the kitten to my mom, my sister AND the dog, and keep it comfortable enough not to runaway.(I'm the only cat person at home so it's highly unlikely for my mom and sis to play with the kitten, plus they think I'm crazy for putting so much effort into caring for it. also, my mom would probably want to keep it outdoors)
    also i wanted to know if there are any serious cat illnesses that are not obvious by just looking at the cat since I'm going to have a hard time convincing my mom to take the kitten to the vet(which is really expensive here) even though it looks healthy.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/3/2011 10:37 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for taking in this little orphan.  From what you have described, I think this kitten is a passive-response feral.  With patience, it can become a loving pet that will get along with other cats and dogs.  Unfortunately, it will take a lot of time and effort.  Unless you can find someone who will commit to this kitten the way you did, its future is bleak.  Since your mother and sister are not cat people, I would try to find someone else to adopt it. 
       
      As for cat illnesses, I always recommend doing blood work to check for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus, and a fecal analysis for gastrointestinal parasites.  

      I wish you the best of luck with this kitten.  Hopefully, you can find a nice home for it.    
      Reply to this
  • 8/3/2011 9:31 AM Lara wrote:
    Hello, my husband and I are adopting a kitten (3months old) and we have a one year and nine month old Aussie at home (who has never had a kitten in the house before). The kitten, luckily, has grown up in foster homes with dogs, so I think that end will be easier. We will follow your advice here and hope for the best!! We are excited for the new addition and hope that our puppy knows we still love her and aren't replacing her. Thanks and we'll keep you updated (we get her later this week)!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/3/2011 10:42 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on the new addition!  I hope they become the best of friends.   
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  • 8/16/2011 5:37 AM Christine wrote:
    My husband and I have a 3.5 yr old lab and a 6 yr old orange male tabby. We just adopted a pair of 3 month old kittens (brother and sister) and are working on intriducing them to my dog. I have the kittens in a "safe room"...a spare bedroom full of cat beds, toys, cat tower, food and water. They have been secluded in that room for several days now. (We all regularly go in there for "kitty play time")

    My adult male cat does not seem thrilled with the kittens. On the few attempts to introduce them...the kittens eagerly approached him, and after a few moments...he hissed and smacked. However, it is not him I am worried about, it is my big, playful goofy female lab.

    Her and the cat "tolerate" each other, they are not best buddies, but I am ok with that. I have been slowly trying to get to a point to introduce the kittens to my dog. I have on several occasions cracked the door to allow my anxious dog to smell the room and the kittens and vice versa. She hasn't gotten upset or acted aggressive in any way...but she desperately wants to meet the new creatures. The young female kitten did hiss at my dog. I am so worried about the right wat to allow a physical introduction. The kittens have never seen a dog, and a 90lb black lab can be terrifying I am sure, and I don't want my overly excited dog to terrify them! Do you think it is possible to get a kitten who is obviously not happy at all with the dog...to eventually not be so terrified and resort to hissing and smacking at the sight of the dog? (hissing and smacking will excite my dog I am sure).

    This evening with the help of my husband, I think we will attempt the "across the room visual" to see what happens...
    Reply to this
    1. 8/16/2011 10:22 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congratulations on the new kittens!  What a wonderful addition to your family.  Your kittens are the perfect age to make friends with your dog.  Right now, your lab is extremely curious about them because they are new.  If you follow the instructions outlined in this post, she will eventually view them as part of her pack.  Be sure to tire her out with exercise before attempting to introduce them.  As for the kittens, it is normal for them to hiss until they know this dog is trustworthy.  Hang in there!  In my experience, labs are usually great with cats. 
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  • 8/22/2011 12:52 PM Michelle wrote:
    Hi, I was wondering if you can please give me some advice! I have an 8 year old Jack Russell/Dachshund mix that I got about a year ago from some people that were moving and could not take her with them. She is the sweetest dog ever and is very attached to me and spoiled. Just this past week I adopted a kitten from a veterinary hospital. The kitten had been around dogs while he was being fostered. I brought the kitten home and made a huge mistake in introducing the two too fast and it was a disaster. The dog totally took off after the cat and really scared him, had him cornered and pinned. I live in a small one bedroom apartment btw. Since then, I have been keeping the two seperated-the cat in a large dog cage when i can't supervise. The dog has been staying in the living room when I have the cat in the bedroom. The dog seems to just be curious about the cat but I won't let her near him and the cat is getting braver about moving around the apartment. Is there any chance that the two will be able to coexist or did I completely ruin that chance? I am absolutely sick about this. The cat hisses and growls when the dog looks at him but not as bad as before. The dog doesn't come near the cat as long as I am holding him or he is in the room with me. Thanks so much in advance! I really love this kitten and I love the dog too!
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    1. 8/22/2011 2:44 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Please do not be too hard on yourself - I believe this will have a happy ending.  If you start over and go very, very slowly through the steps to introducing the animals outlined in the blog, I believe it will work.  Be sure to reward both of them (especially the dog) in each other's presence. We want your dog to associate the presence of the kitten with getting a treat so eventually, the kitten becomes a good thing.  I can tell how much you love both of them so please stick with it. 
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      1. 9/1/2011 11:28 AM Michelle wrote:
        Thank you so much for your kind words and advice. It has been almost two weeks. I have been working really hard with the pair and things are so much better now. No more growling, hissing, they just sniff each other! The dog is still jealous but not being mean at all! Your advice helped so much. However, there is one problem-the dog likes to eat out of the litter box? Ewww! Any suggestions on that? I thank you so much! I am so glad it had a happy ending like you thought it would. Midnight (dog) and Yoda (cat) thank you also!
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        1. 9/3/2011 3:02 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Great job with Midnight and Yoda!  As for the litter box, please check back tomorrow as I will do a post on the subject. 
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  • 9/26/2011 8:38 PM Simi wrote:
    I found a stray kitten an hour or two ago. Couldn't find her mother anywhere.. My husband and I brought her home, gave her a bath in diluted shampoo to get the majority of the dirt off of her. Pulled off a few ants, a handful of fleas.. We're going to take her to a groomer/vet tomorrow. My question is this: My husband has a seven-month old Dachshund pup who hasn't had much interaction with other animals since we got him. We gathered them together by the scruffs, the dog did a lot of sniffing but didn't growl or snap at her, mostly curious to see an animal that didn't bark and that was surprisingly smaller than him. The kitten hissed only once in warning when he got a bit too close for her comfort, and proceeded to ignore him until I pulled her away. I'm certain that I'm the first human to ever touch her, and that she's never been near a dog before, and it only took a bit of coaxing to get her to come to me. She ate gladly ate the tuna I gave her, after guessing she was probably 4-5 weeks old. Is it a good idea to keep trying to put the cat and dog together, despite the dog's natural urge to hunt and be a bit more rough than normal?
    Reply to this
    1. 9/27/2011 8:27 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      This is the perfect time to introduce these two youngsters. Go slow and give the kitten plenty of time to rest.  She needs time to adjust to the new environment.  Never leave them together unsupervised until the kitten is older and the two of them have established a relationship.  Congratulations on the new kitten!
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      1. 11/7/2012 6:13 PM Jenna K. wrote:
        I just got a tiny male kitten... He's 1.8 lb. I also got a 12 week old female miniature dachshund puppy 3 weeks ago, who is 6 lb. She hasn't had any obedience training and so doesn't know the "Leave It" or other commands. I have introduced them slowly and the kitten seems less fearful today than yesterday... He will even go up to her and sniff her nose. The puppy is extremely playful and will start taking little playful nips at the kitten. The kitten didn't hiss or try to get away, but flattened himself against the floor and almost seemed to play dead. I stopped this after a few seconds because I won't sure if they were play tussling, but the puppy was biting at the kitten's neck when I pulled her off. Is the kitten too small to defend himself? He has his claws. Would the puppy have seriously hurt him? She was wagging her tail and trying to get him play at first. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
        Reply to this
        1. 11/8/2012 7:19 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Congratulations on the new additions to your family!  From your description, it sounds like the kitten is a very submissive little guy who could be injured by the dog.  Until he gets older and establishes escape routes, you must supervise all their interactions to keep him safe.  Exercise the pup to get rid of some energy before allowing her to see him.  Ideally, I would like her so tired that she lays on the floor and ignores the kitten.  We must teach the dog that kittens are not chew toys.  When she starts to chew on anything that is inappropriate, redirect her to a toy.  Reward her with a treat for chewing on 'good' things until she understands.  Good luck!    
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  • 10/1/2011 6:12 AM Tonya wrote:
    Dr. Nelson:
    We have a 4.5 year old pit bull/whippet mix, who is a great dog with kids and people, but has never been great with other dogs, no bites, but gets really vocal, squeaking, hair up on the back, I think she is very unsure. When we leave in the morning she is like glue to you. We just got two 8 week old kittens that have been raised thus far with a German shorthair . I am following your steps and so far so good. We have the kittens in my daughters room and a gate up down the hall in case. She did see the kittens in my kids arms and then they just went back in the room and she remained calm so I rewarded her. I figure this process will maybe take 4-6 days before I supervise them meeting with our dog . Someone suggested I use the muzzle that allows them to drink, but not bite. I am thinking this is a good idea as our dog has gotten a rabbit or two, a ground hog. Does this sound right? I will go back to the step before if anyone seems stressed or anxious.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/2/2011 7:22 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I think a basket muzzle is a wonderful idea.  It will provide an extra level of insurance to protect the kittens.  Basket muzzles come in two types, a thick flexible plastic and a wire mesh.  If you get the wire mesh type, make sure it is well padded around the edges to protect your dog's face.  It sounds like you are doing everything right.  Please give the process whatever time your dog needs to make it a success.  The prey instinct is strong and it may take a long time to retrain your dog's behavior pattern.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 11/30/2011 9:34 AM Rita wrote:
    I only wish I had researched this earlier. Went to PA for Thanksgiving, my oldest son, 17, is a cat person. We took out "rescued" yorkie/terrier mix, love of our lives with us to PA! She was smaller than the cats there, and of course, the HUGE farm dogs! But, she showed them who was boss! LOL! Then, the kittens were found in the barn. We brought one home (about 8 weeks old), of course the dog sniffed and followed her everywhere for the first 2 days! But, I thought things were good, now 4-5 days later, my dog (named Baby Girl) won't play, doesn't want to stay outside (like usual), only wants to sleep. She's very lethargic all of a sudden and I do not know what to do! I'm literally crying over this! I've tried loving her, holding her, but she just doesn't respond like she used to. I'm going to walk her later today, see if that helps, maybe put the kitten in my son's bedroom this evening, and try to spend one on one time, but right now, I don't know if Baby Girl is sick or depressed! I feel horrible now! I thought a "kitten" would be a good play mate and they'd grow fond of each other. Baby Girl is 3 years old! We rescued her from an abusive family when she was 1. Now I feel like a horrible person. This is breaking my heart! Right now, Baby Girl is laying on my bed (she's been there for 4 hours this morning), doesn't seem to want to go outside and "get the squirrels"! Something is definitely not right! What to do?
    Reply to this
    1. 12/1/2011 7:12 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am concerned that Baby Girl contracted an illness from her visit to the farm animals.  Please take her to your veterinarian right away for laboratory tests and bring a fecal sample just in case she picked up a parasite.  Giving a kitten a home for life is wonderful.  When Baby Girl feels better, I think they will become wonderful friends.  Good luck and let me know how it goes. 
      Reply to this
  • 12/9/2011 12:04 PM Laurie wrote:
    Hello,
    We have an 8 month old Australian Labradoodle. She is well trained for her age, super smart and of course playful and energetic. Until recently we had a sweet quiet 18 yr old cat. The puppy did very well learning to leave the cat alone bc the cat did not want to play! We always supervised them and kept the puppy on leash and gave her lots of positive reinforcement for not chasing, lunging etc. they sniffed eachother nose to nose occasionally and could both be lying down in the same room ignoring each other. Neither seemed stressed.
    Sadly, we recently lost our cat. We would love to rescue a cat and are trying to figure out the best way and timing. Should we wait until the puppy is older? Or is it a good time now since the puppy is used to being restricted/leaving her alone rather than reteaching her at a later date? Any advice? We really appreciate any insight you could offer because we want to be fair to our puppy and to a future cat.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/10/2011 11:18 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry for the loss of your beloved cat.  Since your puppy is used to cats, you may adopt another whenever you are ready.  Introduce them slowly as you did with your prior cat.  Give the new cat several days to adapt to the new environment and establish escape routes before letting them meet.  As you did before, always supervise their interactions until they are comfortable with each other.  Again, my deepest sympathy on the loss of your cat. Please let me know how it goes with the new addition. 
      Reply to this
  • 12/9/2011 12:11 PM Laurie wrote:
    I'm sorry I left a detailed question a few minutes ago and left out my final question - it seems like you recommend young (-12 wks) kittens ideally for dog socialization. Would that be your suggestion in our case as well? Thanks so much.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/10/2011 11:10 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Animals are like people in many ways.  As they age, they become more set in their ways so to speak.  This is not to say that older people and animals can't learn new skills, just that it takes more convincing.  In general, it is easier to introduce youngsters to each other which is why I recommend introducing animals to other species at the earliest age possible.
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  • 12/14/2011 9:54 AM Missy wrote:
    I am excited to see your post. We adopted a boxer/lab mix in April and want to get a kitten. We are just so unsure how our dog would be with a kitten because she sometimes plays rough and is protective. Our dog is very smart and trainable, so I think we can do this!
    Reply to this
    1. 12/15/2011 8:03 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Good luck and remember to go slow with the intro. 
      Reply to this
      1. 12/29/2011 9:07 AM Missy wrote:
        OK, we have had our kitten for 5 days and have done the blanket sniffing and have been giving the dog treats when she sniffs under the door or is sniffing the blanket. How do we know when it's time to go on to the next step--the visual? I want both of our pets to be happy and safe!
        Reply to this
        1. 12/29/2011 9:59 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Sorry for the slow response.  Many animals get sick over the holidays.  When both pets react well to the smell of the other it is time to go to the visual part of the introduction.  By reacting well, I mean no hissing, growling cowering, etc.  Congratulations on the new kitten.  I wish you many years of happiness together!
          Reply to this
  • 12/26/2011 4:07 AM Marylin wrote:
    hello found your advice on introducing a kitten to the family dog helpfill and will put your advice into practice
    thank you
    Reply to this
  • 12/28/2011 7:38 AM missy wrote:
    Ok, we have had our kitten for 4 days and have let them sniff blankets. The dog knows there is something in the other room and sniffs under the door and occasionally barks. I give her treats sometimes while she is sniffing. When do I know it is time to move to the visual contact?
    Reply to this
  • 1/6/2012 6:31 AM Tracy wrote:
    I have 2 dogs ( rottweiler X's) a male and female. both friendly and easy going - i have no doubt that introducing a kitten will go well with the steps above. would a male or female kitten be better in this situation?
    Reply to this
    1. 1/6/2012 8:46 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Good question!  In my experience, either sex is fine.  Congratulations on the new edition.  Please send a picture of all three if you can.  I would love to see them together. 
      Reply to this
      1. 2/6/2012 5:48 AM Tracey wrote:
        So far so good. We ended up adopting a 7 month old female kitten (Whisky). All has been going well - we have had Whisky for just under 5 days and are into step 5 :)
        Reply to this
        1. 2/6/2012 7:55 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          That's good news.  Keep up the good work.
          Reply to this
          1. 2/25/2012 3:55 AM Tracey wrote:
            What should we do if progress regresses? It has been to the point where they get nose to nose for a period of time before she gets uncomfortable and hisses very quietly and walks away and other times where she will happily walk around the dogs and even go up to them and sniff them. we have had the dogs in a few times and the last couple of times she very rarely allows them near her and she seems to sit in a spot where the dogs need to pass to walk out side, then hisses very differently/aggressively (not so much a warning) and tries to claw at them when they walk past. both myself and the dogs get very confused with this.
            Reply to this
            1. 2/27/2012 7:04 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
              In my experience, cats are very "situational" in their trust which explains why sometimes she is comfortable around the dogs and other times, she hisses.  She is sensing some kind of difference that alarms her.  When my dog is playful, my cats avoid him like the plague.  The rest of the time, they sleep on his bed with him.  The clues can be subtle and difficult for us to discern. 

              When a pet regresses, go back in the steps of introduction until the pet is comfortable.  Give them twice as long in each phase before moving to the next.  At the first sign of anxiety, stop all interaction.  Cats will usually dilate their pupils and twitch their tails prior to hissing.  Remove the dogs when you see this.  Also, make sure the dogs do not block the cat's escape route.  In my experience, cats would rather run than fight with dogs.  

              Lastly, cats love high   places where they can survey their kingdom.  If you can, set up several different elevated play/sleep areas where no one will bother her.  Ideally, she should be able to move from spot to spot without ever touching the floor.  I have used this set up, high for cats and low for dogs, with great success in other cases of cat on dog aggression.  Good luck!

              Reply to this
  • 1/27/2012 9:20 AM Lisa wrote:
    So glad I found you! Our cat (14 years old) recently passed and we are starting to plan for a kitten. We adopted a border collie mix at 1 1/2. Our cat was already older and very large. There were no issues. Our 2nd dog was adopted as a puppy. Again no issues. The dogs have killed rats, a possum, a squirrel, birds, and a bunny in the backyard. We will follow your steps for sure! I have been very worried they would kill a kitten. Should we use the muzzle as well?
    Reply to this
    1. 1/28/2012 5:41 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes, I would take all the precautions possible to make sure an accident doesn't happen.  I like the softer, plastic basket muzzles.  If you get a metal one, be sure to pad the area that contacts the dog's face.  I am sorry for the loss of your cat but excited that you are planning for another.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 1/29/2012 12:09 AM Laura wrote:
    Hi, we got our cat off a farm and then a year later our dog, they had a very close relationship and loved each other, even slept together occasionally, unfortunately our cat died a month ago. Our dog has seemed quite sad since. We're ready to get a kitten but have no idea how he will react. Do you think it would be okay or is it too soon?
    Reply to this
    1. 1/29/2012 10:31 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      My condolences to you for the loss of your cat.  Animals can develop close relationships just like people.  When their beloved friend dies, I have seen and heard of behaviors that make me think they are going through the stages of grief.  First they will look for their buddy and be a bit temperamental.  When they stop looking, lethargy sets in and they mope around the house.  In my experience, pets are ready for a new buddy when they stop looking.  Depending upon the age of your dog, a cat who likes dogs might be better than a kitten.  Perhaps it would be good to take the dog with you and let him/her help you decide.  Again, my deepest sympathies for the loss of your cat. 
      Reply to this
  • 2/20/2012 1:52 PM sparkey wrote:
    Hi I am thinking about getting a kitten but I have a dog (labrador/pointer mix) that is 3 years. She was obviously never brought up with cats as everytime she sees one, she goes into attack mode. Actually the cats that I had before I got her, were attacked regularly. At the time that we got her, it just so happened that both the cats and Jessebel were poisoned and the cats didn't make it, her aggression towards them didn't help either. So what I am asking is, is there something that I can teach her that will make her less aggressive towards cats (don't want the neighbours cat landing up dead)and is it a very bad idea, knowing the history to get a kitten. I really don't want to make the poor thing anxious at such a young age. Thanks for listening!
    Reply to this
    1. 2/21/2012 8:09 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      With this level of aggression toward cats, I do not recommend getting another one.  While some dogs with strong prey drives can be desensitized and counter-conditioned, I doubt that will work with Jessebel.  As for the neighborhood cats, they should be kept indoors to keep them safe and protect the environment.  Pet cats have decimated the songbird population.  Unfortunately, some people still let their cats out and I applaud your concern for these cats.  The safest approach is to keep Jessebel in a kennel when she is outside unless under direct supervision.  Another option is a basket muzzle.  I hope that helps.   
      Reply to this
  • 2/21/2012 1:27 PM Mary Anne Eiden wrote:
    Hi, My son is getting out of the navy soon. He is sending his 3 adult cats to stay with me in the meantime. I have a 7yr. old dachshund. Any suggestions to help make this transition would be greatly appreciated.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/23/2012 8:51 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I bet you can't wait to see him!  Dachshunds usually do well with cats if you introduce them slowly.  The advice given for kittens also works with adult cats.  The key point is to set up the cats in a safe room and then gradually let them explore the rest of your home without your dog.  The cats need time to find safe places to hide and establish escape routes. I want to thank you and your son for his service.  My dad was a Navy CB.   
      Reply to this
  • 3/29/2012 9:29 AM Cathy wrote:
    Thank you soooo much for your guidance and expertise. Just adopted 2 sibling kittens and set them up in the bathroom (safe room). I have 2 Alaskan Malamutes who love to chase rabbits and cats. I did a brief introduction last night of each dog to our new feline family members. Both very curious, one will be fine, the other was shaking and salivating. I will be following your protocol and also getting a basket muzzle for the Pavlovian dog. Besides taking it super slow, any other recommendations?
    This posting has been a true Godsend.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/30/2012 7:35 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for the kind words.  Most Malamutes have a very high prey drive which is why they are tricky with cats. I am glad you are taking precautions to protect the kittens.  My only other piece of advice is to make sure the kittens have multiple escape routes back to the safe room so if one route is blocked, there is another way out. This is especially important with 2 dogs.    Also, make sure the dogs can't access the safe room.  One of those door chains used at hotels works well for this.  Lastly, provide other safe areas for the kittens.  If the kittens always run for the same place, it won't take long for the dogs to figure this out and be wait for them.  Never underestimate a Malamute.  They are really smart!  Good luck with the new editions. 
      Reply to this
  • 3/29/2012 4:29 PM Diane O'Neal wrote:
    I have a 2 yr.old kitty and 2 yr old malamute, they have been together since both were 8 wks (dog) 12 weeks (cat), cat is declawed (last declawed kitty)..they play VERY rough and seem to enjoy chasing and wrestling with each other...I wanted to add an older cat but shelter didn't tell me whole story about first cat and under estimated age by years...sweet kitty but I had to return him (I was heartbroken, wanted to give an older cat a home, but feared for dogs eyes and cat's life). I have now adopted an almost 4 month (estimated) kitten from an Orphan Kitten Project out of Davis, CA fostered by an almost newly minted vet. She has two malamutes, one a 6 mo. old pup and four cats. I thought this would be great. I have been doing all the intros fairly closely to your suggestions and the new little one and the older cat seem to be starting to accept one another. The dog is so excited I have resorted to some Ace. (he reacts to very little, given for grooming, he is 90 lbs, I give a quarter tab for a 5 hr. groom)... He seems to want to play with kitten the way he plays with his other companion which is way too rough..I have put up crates so that I can contain him calmly in different rooms while kitten is out of "safe room"...I am afraid that when she smacks him (which she will) he will be startled and bite hard out of instinct rather than aggression. A kitten from the neighborhood got in the yard months ago and he tried to play with it the same way and it scratched him and I rescued the kitty...no injuries were had (other than a scratch on his nose and kitten was fine)..that is his extent of experience with claws on kitties. My fear is that he will slap a paw on her and hurt her badly not meaning to. His training seems to go completely out the window when he sees her. I have many kitty escape places both in the house and in the back yard, tunnels, gates, under beds, barriers, etc. It has only been 4 days (barely) but I feel really nervous about the process. I have introduced small kittens to wolfdogs successfully for all the years I had them (30 for various animals) but my husband was alive so there were more human hands. It hurts my feelings to hurt HER feelings by keeping her in safe room at night, but I think currently that is safest for all. Am I too impatient? I probably am, but it seems that the kitten/wolfdog intros went so much faster (of course memory is selective at my age). I truly wanted to add a couple of cats but I'm thinking the dog may be too young and energetic and set in the way he plays with the other cat? Maybe I'm looking for reassurance that I'm too impatient and that this will take some longer than 4 days. Thank you for any input you can provide. I appreciate everything I have read here so far.
    Diane
    Reply to this
    1. 3/30/2012 7:47 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes, you are expecting too much far too soon.  Four days is nothing to a cat.  Let the kitten learn about his new environment first and where all the resources are located (food, water, litter boxes and rest areas).  After he is comfortable, then start introducing him to the other members of the family.  During this time, make sure the Malamute is well exercised to dampen his curiosity.  As my professor told me in veterinary school, "A tired animal doesn't get into trouble."  Good luck!
      Reply to this
      1. 3/30/2012 8:17 AM Diane O'Neal wrote:
        Thank you so much for your response...Kitten pretty much knows where the getaways are, but she is much too confident...especially since the last mals she lived with were an older (mix) and a puppy (little older than WHiskey when he met Casper)...I have litter boxes added in a few other rooms in case the dog is out she will still have a litter box to use!! and you are right, a tired animal is much easier to control...now if this rain would just stop so we could go OUT and GET tired...and I see a message right above mine where there are TWO mals and new kittens!! I probably should have put the skids on the play the resident cat and the Mal have been doing for two years...I mean it is really rough and half the time the cat starts it...by jumping on the dog!! Or chasing him....this is both inside and outside...well we shall work out way through this....hopefully.
        Thanks again for your help!
        Diane
        Reply to this
  • 4/4/2012 11:27 PM Casey wrote:
    Thanks so much for posting this article. I'm hoping it helps in my situation.

    I have 5 dogs, all under the age of 3 (the oldest is 3, and the youngest is 8 months) and all rescue mix breeds. I foster puppies regularly, so there are constantly puppies around the house. I've been wanting to, for some time now, add a kitten to the mix. However, I have a few concerns. Only my one dog grew up with cats, til about 10 months of age when we adopted him. But still I worry about him, because he spends all day chasing everything from lizards to squirrels in our garden. My other dog we rescued from our shelter at the age of 1 year. So we unfortunately know nothing about her past. She has a very sweet nature but takes longer than our other dogs to adjust to new puppies. I fear she may not accept the new kitten at all. Our 8 month old only has 3 legs, and she is severely under socialized. She get's on very well with all the puppies we bring home, but she does have a jealous streak and she isn't able to be as gentle with minus a front leg. She was very sick up until about 5 months of age, so unfortunately we missed out on all the crucial puppy development. I'm not too worried about my other 2 dogs, the one seems to ignore everything that goes on around him to focus on his ball and the other we got at 2 weeks, and has grown up with a wonderful gentle nature.

    How do I go about introducing a kitten to them? Should I introduce each dog separately, and then gradually all together? Also, there will be puppies in and out of the house, how do I properly socialize my kitten to be used to the foster pups?

    Thanks so much for all your advice!
    Reply to this
    1. 4/6/2012 7:37 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      You obviously love animals and have done so much to help them, thank you for your work.  With 5 young dogs (one with a high prey drive) and foster pups, I would not recommend bringing a feline into the mix.  I am afraid that the hunter will target the cat and the other dogs will follow.  Unfortunately, I have lost some of my feline patients to this kind of situation.  I am also concerned about the three legged female.  Because of her rough start in life, she has formed an extreme attachment to you.  I would caution you to save a significant amount of time to devot to her every day.  She needs it.  Thanks for writing and all you do for animals! 
      Reply to this
  • 5/10/2012 3:11 PM Caitlin wrote:
    I am so glad I found this post!! My boyfriend and I have a 2 1/2 year old chihuahua and we will be bringing home 2 kittens on Saturday. My pup is very attached to me so I am a little nervous and these steps really give me hope! I have a particular question about step 5. Which one of us should hold onto our dog for the visual meeting? I have raised him since a pup and he is so attached. I think that if I hold him, he will be more aggresive if he feels theatened by them. But if my boyfriend holds him and I have the kittens, I don't want him to be distressed. Which is the "better" route?
    Reply to this
    1. 5/12/2012 5:29 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I think you should hold him and reward him with a tasty treat for being a good boy.  Keep his attention focuses on you.
      Reply to this
  • 5/15/2012 12:31 PM Vicky wrote:
    Thanks for your article. We have two rescue dogs that are both part terriers. They both like to dig but only one seems really interested in catching anything. We have seen him with something in his mouth at times. Last week we found two abandoned kittens in the hayloft of a small barn in our garden and brought them in. They are now about 3 weeks old we think. We have kept them apart from the dogs, although they know something is there. We are worried that they will think they are a snack - esoecially ad they aren't much bigger than the mice they try to dig up! Should we be worried or if we follow your plan will they get along? If they are going to be a problem we could try and rehouse the kittens once they are off the bottle, although we would like to keep them if possible. Also the kittens are very young - what age should we start introducing them? Thanks so much for your help.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/17/2012 10:48 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for taking in these orphan kittens.  I would start the introductions now with one dog at a time.  Hold the kitten in your hands and let the dog sniff it through your fingers.  Reward the dog with a tasty treat for good behavior, i.e. not biting.  Most dogs will sniff for 3 to 5 minutes before they are bored with the kitten.  By giving treats, you are teaching the dog to think of kittens as good things (treats) as opposed to prey.  I have had great luck introducing kittens and dogs with this technique.  Please let me know how it goes.

      P.S. Only allow supervised interaction between the dogs and kittens until the kittens are full grown and you know how the dogs will react.   

      Reply to this
  • 5/24/2012 1:20 AM Rachel wrote:
    Hi I have a 3 year old chihuahua and have recently got a kitten she is 8 weeks old, the dog has no problem with the kitten but she hisses at him and try's to attack him I keep them seperate and try introducing them on a daily basis, I'm worried she is going to hurt him as her claws are sharp, could you suggest a methered to stop the kitten attacking the dog.

    Many thanks
    Rachel.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/25/2012 10:55 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on the new addition!  I am concerned that your kitten does not feel comfortable in her new environment, (She doesn't know the rooms yet, she hasn't established places for rest and play, she doesn't have escape routes to a safe place).  She has adopted the motto, "the best defense is a good offense" with your dog.  With kittens and cats that attack dogs, I recommend giving them more vertical spaces to call their own.  Ideally, the kitten should be able to circle the entire room without ever touching the floor.  For example, she could jump from sofa to table to chair to kitty condo, etc.  This gives cats a sense of security. 

      Establish a safe room for the kitten where the dog is not allowed.  Give her at least a week to get comfortable, then let her explore your home on her own terms.  Keep the dog crated when she is exploring to keep him safe.  As her confidence grows, start the introductions.  Put both of them on a leash just in case.  When they are together, give the kitten treats so she begins to associate good things with the dog.  Also, play with her during this interactions to keep her distracted.  Lastly, watch the kitten for signs of anxiety and back off when observed.  Let her dictate how fast or slow to proceed.  Good luck with her!

      Reply to this
  • 5/27/2012 5:21 AM Samantha wrote:
    Thank you for posting! Our cat just had seven kittens on Friday and we have a beagle. We were not sure how to handle the situation, but the steps above make sense, and explain why our beagle would just stare in amazement and try to sniff the kittens. We plan on getting the mom spayed after awhile, and only intend to keep one of the kittens. If our beagle does get attached to the kittens how may she act once they are gone? Once again thank you for such a helpful article!

    Samantha
    Reply to this
    1. 5/27/2012 8:59 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for the kind words.  As long as you keep the mom for a friend, I think your beagle will be fine.  It will also help the kittens find forever homes if they are used to dogs.  Good luck with the kittens and be sure to get the mom spayed right away.  Cats go into heat quickly after having kittens. 
      Reply to this
  • 5/29/2012 10:31 PM Nikolai wrote:
    I am very glad I found this post, thank so you much.

    I am very interesting in adopting a kitten, but my mom believes that the main point against this would be our 4 year old yellow lab. She is very active, and excited lab, as most are, and my mom worries that she wouldn't accept the kitten into the house at all.

    Do you have any tips that would ease an introduction, especially with a lab like mine?
    Reply to this
    1. 5/30/2012 9:08 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Labs are great dogs!  In my experience, they are good with cats as long as you introduce them slowly.  In addition to the steps outlined in the post, I recommend giving her a lot of exercise during the introduction phase to calm her down.  Run her for 20 to 30 minutes and then work with the kitten.  Good luck and congrats on the new addition.
      Reply to this
  • 5/30/2012 12:36 PM Hali wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson,
    I just adopted a 3 month old kitten 2 days ago, and I have a 9 year old bluetick coonhound at home. I am keeping the kitten in my bedroom as a safe room. My coonhound has been sniffing and crying outside my door almost all the time. I know it has only been 2 days and it will take some time, but how do I react to his behavior? I don't want to yell at him and make him associate the kitten with bad things, but I also don't want to reward him for hunting the kitten, if that's what he's doing. He also doesn't like to play or run around so I don't know how to tire him out. The kitten is very curious when he hears the dog at the door, but sometimes puts his paws under the door and then gets scared and runs away. Also, the kitten seems to sleep everywhere but his bed, so I don't know if the towel thing is really working. Would it be good to put the kitten in another room and let the dog come in and sniff? How should I handle this, and how quickly should I move through the steps? Thanks so much for your help.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/31/2012 9:03 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I believe your dog is acting normally.  Since your kitten is playing on the other side of the door, that is a good sign.  I would start bringing items with the kitten's scent on them out for your dog to sniff.  It may be time to progress to a child gate which will keep the kitten safe but allow them to see eachother.  You may wish to feed them on their respective sides so they associate good things with seeing the other animal. 

      Regarding the towel, that is not a big deal.  Just put the bed where your kitten likes to sleep.  You are right to err on the side of going slowly but it sounds like they may be headed toward friendship.  Good luck!

      Reply to this
  • 6/12/2012 11:08 AM Kaila wrote:
    I found this article very helpful as we are picking up a three month old Ragdoll kitten - 'Oliver' - in a week and a half and I have been trying to think of the best way to introduce him to our nine year old chihuahua - 'Muffy'.

    Muffy has lived with other cats and dogs before [never kittens or puppies though, always older pets] and has never displayed any aggression, even after being bitten or whacked. She is an extreme personal space invader, so I worry that she might scare the kitten or annoy him.

    She is quite small for a chihuahua, so do you think that it might be a little easier to introduce them, seeing as they will be approximately the same size? At least that way she isn't towering over the kitten.

    Also, we are looking at getting a female Ragdoll kitten in approximately six months. So I was wondering how I would go about introducing her to Oliver and Muffy. Do I introduce her to them separately, and then together?

    Thanks (:
    Reply to this
    1. 6/13/2012 9:12 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      If you go slow with the introductions, I think Oliver and Muffy will become good friends. Once their relationship is solid, then introducing Muffy to another cat will be easy.  The trick will be when the new kitten comes along.  In general, cats of the same sex get along better than one of each.  Try to adopt another kitten with a personality that complements Oliver and then introduce them slowly.  Good luck and congrats on the new additions to your family!   
      Reply to this
  • 6/18/2012 9:28 AM Jenny wrote:
    Hello. I have a 2 year old lab/beagle mix. We got a kitten about 2 days ago, and my dog wont leave him alone. They have met face to face but my dog licks her chops everytime she sees the kitten. This scares me. I want them to become good friends, but i dont want my dog to harm the kitten. Molly(the dog) has licked Oliver(the kitten) in the face, and molly seems like she wants to play with oliver, but i feel as oliver us too young and doesn't know how to defend himself. We also have a 11 year old cat (Moses) who we want to introduce to Oliver, but Moses keeps hissing at Oliver. We got Oliver as a companion for Molly and Moses, and we just want them to accept Oliver. Any suggestions?
    Reply to this
    1. 6/19/2012 8:32 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on the new addition!  I am concerned that you are going to fast with the introductions.  For the first week, allow the kitten to explore a safe room and learn about the new environment.  Molly will learn about the kitten through his scent.  Once the kitten is comfortable, then proceed to the face to face introduction at a safe distance.  If either animal shows any anxiety or fear, stop immediately.  As for Moses, the same applies for him.  Introduce them slowly, under supervision.  Let you pets tell you when they are ready for the next step.  Be patient! 
      Reply to this
  • 6/18/2012 11:24 AM Peter wrote:
    I babysat a kitten and it was sneezing and now my kitten is sneezing is this a problem
    Reply to this
    1. 6/19/2012 8:35 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes, I am worried that your kitten caught an upper respiratory infection like herpes or calici virus from the other kitten.  Please take your kitten in for an examination right away.  Your veterinarian will be able to help you with further treatment including parasite control, vaccination and other tests. 
      Reply to this
  • 6/24/2012 5:18 PM Laurie wrote:
    Hello,
    I actually asked you a question back in December and we have now finally adopted a new kitten. We wanted to wait until school was out so we could devote some time to the transition/ Our 15 month old mini (17 lb) labradoodle, Liesel, was used to our late 18 yr old cat and Liesel was trained pretty well to stay out of her way, as the older cat had no interest in playing. Now we have a 4.5 mo old kitten, Cleo, since yesterday. Cleo is sweet and affectionate with us, not easily scared, confident with exploring her room, not easily startled by noises, etc.

    They have not seen each other yet, but are both sitting on either side of the door. Liesel is sniffing and occasionally digging, sometimes barking and whining a bit now. Cleo is laying flat against her side of the door and occasionally meowing. After 24 hours we switched towel/blanket and they both seemed mildly interested. We fed then on either side of the door tonight and they both seemed happy to eat their own food and fairly calm.

    Our question is: is a week in the safe room, separated, a hard rule, or can we try the visual test, etc sooner if they seem to be doing well? We are planning on letting Cleo explore the other rooms of the house tomorrow while Liesel is outside, but are wondering how long to wait for the visual contact test after that. We certainly don't want to rush things, we were planning on a week, but they seem so anxious we also don't want to drag out feet.

    Any advice is appreciated! Thanks! We have been reading this since December trying to prepare :)
    Reply to this
    1. 6/25/2012 11:41 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on adopting a new kitten!  Miss Cleo sounds like a wonderful addition to your family.  There are no hard and fast rules with animals.  Some will become comfortable in their new surroundings in a few days while others may take months.  Since Cleo sounds like a self confident girl, I would let her out of the safe room to explore the rest of your home.  Give her time (few days to a week) to learn where her 'safe' places (where the dog can't reach her) and escape routes back to the safe room before allowing Cleo to meet Liesel.  Again, congrats on adopting a wonderful kitten!
      Reply to this
  • 6/24/2012 5:21 PM Laurie wrote:
    me again, I always seem to forget my last question :) You mention a child gate - I don't understand bc the kitten could jump right over it!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/25/2012 11:44 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      The baby gate is only used when a human is there to supervise and prevent the kitten from jumping over it.  Obviously, I should have been more clear in my writing.  Thanks for the question. 
      Reply to this
  • 6/25/2012 9:01 AM Katryn Fisher wrote:
    Hello there! I got a 7 week old kitten yesterday, and I'm worried about my dog! She is a year and a Half Old and she's never really been around cats ever. We introduced them briefly yesterday to sort of get to know each other and all my dog does is try to sniff her then whine and jump back when he tries to get close to her. I am also worried about her being jealous of the kitty because it's just been us 3 since we got her! I've been keeping the kitty in a separate room but a soon as I close the door he meows and meows and meows for hours and it drives my dog crazy. Please help me!!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/25/2012 11:59 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I think you are moving too fast with the introductions.  Your kitten hasn't had time to establish a safe room, get to know what is normal in your house or even realize that you are the new parents.  If the kitten wants to be with you, put him in a carrier and take him with you from room to room.  Sit on the sofa with your dog on one side and the kitten in the carrier on the other side.  The kitten can even sleep on the nightstand or bed in his carrier.  This should keep him protected but give him the comfort that he needs.  Also, give your dog plenty of attention during the introduction.  Pet her, feed her and talk to her first, then work with the kitten.  Hang in there!
      Reply to this
  • 6/28/2012 10:49 AM Laurie wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson,
    Thanks so much for your advice - I have a follow up to my above question if you don't mind. We did let Cleo and Liesel meet with Liesel on a leash. Liesel responds to sit/down/etc and treats while Cleo is around, and is so happy to see Cleo! Cleo seems completely unfazed...she gives Liesel a sniff, sometimes a nuzzle/rubs up against her, then she'll flop down and start cleaning herself within a few feet of the dog! They did start to play/wrestle a tiny bit last night (with the dog still leashed so it was very controlled).

    Liesel (15 mo old, 17 lbs) is much more interested in playing than Cleo, of course --we are rewarding her with treats and praise when she is calm around Cleo. They are together for 10-15 min at a time with Liesel on a leash a few times a day, and then we put Cleo back in her safe room. Then Liesel sits and stares at the door waiting for next time :)
    Cleo sometimes meows to come out, and now she is starting to try to bolt through the door!
    My question (coming from someone who holds my breath when puppies play bc I am afraid they'll hurt each other!): How much should we supervise vs. let them work it out? If Cleo runs across the room at a fly, Liesel tries to chase her of course but we don't let her. I'm afraid Liesel, even though she's small, will play too rough and hurt Cleo (squish her!) although Cleo doesn't seem scared/skittish/apprehensive at all. Is Cleo tougher than she looks and can take care of herself at almost 5 lbs (!) or do we continue to strictly supervise and at what point do we stop? I'm trying so hard to do this the right way, they seem to really like each other and I don't want to spoil it!
    Thanks so much for any advice, you are such a resource and this blog is wonderful.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/30/2012 7:19 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      It sounds like Liesel and Cleo are making great progress.  Good job!  I would start to give them more freedom together but only when supervised because as you pointed out, Liesel could hurt Cleo.  Tire Liesel out with exercise and then let them get together with Liesel off the leash.  There will be a little  'chasing' behavior at first because Liesel will want to sniff Cleo's rear end.  Try to remain calm and only interfere if things are getting too rough.  You have done a great job with Cleo and Liesel.  I think they will have a great relationship. 
      Reply to this
  • 7/8/2012 2:03 PM Paige wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson,

    I have the opposite problem! My kittens are hissing at my dogs! My dogs are extremely calm around my two new kittens because we have had a cat and kitten before. I kept the kittens in their own special room "my bedroom" for a few weeks till they were comfortable. I slowly let them explore my home (without the dogs being there). Then i slowly introduced them to my dogs. The dogs are fine but the two kittens hiss and strike them. I have made progress quickly. I sat down on the floor while I had my dogs lay down next to me and the kittens came up and explore and played with her tail while she just laid there. But the kittens still will hiss if the dogs get to close to them. Even though I am making progress I am just wondering if you have any more advice for me. It would be greatly appreciated because the last thing I want to do is have to give the kittens away due to them not being able to live peacefully with my dogs.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/9/2012 8:36 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on the new kittens!  Congrats to your dogs on being so well behaved.  You are handling the situation well by having the dogs lie still while the kittens approach.  Most cats and kittens will approach from the rear first as your kittens did to avoid the teeth.  My only suggestion is to reward the good behavior of the kittens with a special treat.  Make it something really tasty.  Also, always make sure the kittens have an escape route to make them feel more secure and high perches away from the dogs.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 7/16/2012 7:57 PM Dana wrote:
    Thank you for creating such simple and easy to follow steps. I am actually a little more hopeful that there can be harmony in my house. We are adopting an 8 week-old kitten from a local humane society and I am looking for any recommendations to help with my dogs. As mentioned in alot of previous posts, both of my dogs, boxers 2 and 4, have become quite used to having the run of the house and the yard. They have effectively chased away every squirrel. We have a large open area in our house and very little option to providing the kitten a safe room. If we use our bedroom i am a little concerned i will be taking away a dog space, they sleep at the end of our bed every night. Any recommendations on speeding up the process? Or tricks for fast friendship?
    Reply to this
    1. 7/17/2012 9:17 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for giving a kitten a home.  The speed of the process depends completely upon the kitten's personality.  With outgoing individuals, the process may only take a few days while shy kittens may take months to be comfortable.  The important thing to remember is to let the kitten set the pace.  Good luck and congrats on the new addition!
      Reply to this
  • 7/17/2012 10:25 AM Laurie wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson,
    Your blog has been so helpful to us! We've had our kitten Cleo (5 mos old, 5.5 lbs) for almost a month now. Liesel (our 15mo old 16 lb. mini labradoodle)is very excited to have her - runs right to our gated bedroom door looking for her all the time.

    We have the gate raised so Cleo can run under it and get away safely, also she can run upstairs where Liesel is not allowed. When we have treats out, Liesel will nose Cleo gently, sit and look at her, and get a reward for being "nice".

    We're still not sure how much to restrict their play -- without supervision and treats for rewards, Liesel wants to chase/trample Cleo if Cleo is running (usually after a fly!), or if Cleo is laying down, Liesel wants to mouth her all over, especially her head! She will just have Cleo's head in her mouth! Often times Cleo doesn't seem to care, but if she is pinned down(at least she looks trapped to us!) and lets out a plaintive meow, we yell at Liesel and she'll leave her alone. Liesel doesn't know when to let her go, it seems. We feel like we shouldn't allow her mouth her like that. Is that correct? And if she chases Cleo so closely that Cleo can't escape to one of her safe places, we yell at her to stop, too. It doesn't seem aggressive to us at all, Liesel seem to just want to play and not know when to let up.

    Other times, Cleo lies under the coffee table, like "Bring it on!" and is ready to swat and play with Liesel. We usually let that go unless Cleo tries to escape and Liesel chases her too much and tramples her. (see above lol)

    They seem on their way to being friends, we don't want to interfere too much but want Cleo to be and feel safe!

    How are we doing and do you have any advice? Thanks :)
    Reply to this
    1. 7/18/2012 11:00 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      It sounds like you are doing a terrific job with Cleo and Liesel.  I agree, I would never let Liesel 'mouth' Cleo.  Reward Liesel for chewing on her toys, not Cleo.  From your description, I would recommend more exercise for Liesel to give her a release for her energy.  Tire her out twice a day.  This will prevent a lot of behavior problems including chasing and trampling Cleo.  Congrats on the new addition! 
      Reply to this
  • 7/23/2012 2:08 PM Rebeca wrote:
    Hello I just recently adopted a 9week old kitten and would like some advice on how to introduce her to our 4 year old boxer and 3year old pitbull. They have been known to chase outdoor cats. And become very anxious when they see the cat. She has been in a safe room Since yesterday and the dogs have been hanging around by the door. I'm hoping they can somehow get along.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/23/2012 6:27 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congrats on the new kitten.  It takes time for the dogs to learn that the kitten is part of the family and not prey.  Follow the steps listed above and slowly introduce them to each other.  Give them at least a week of smelling the kitten's things before you move to the next step.  Work the the dogs on their basic obedience, especially the down/stay command during this period.  When you are ready for the next step, get two more people to help you with the first visual introduction.  Put both dogs on a leash on a down/stay with their own handler.  When they are comfortable, let the kitten enter at a safe distance from the dogs.  If the dogs stay down and relaxed, reward them.  If they appear anxious, remove the kitten at once, let the dogs calm down and try again at a greater distance.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 7/27/2012 9:47 PM Donna Carol wrote:
    There was much good advice in this article. I am getting a Ragdoll kitten in a month. My good friend has a dauschaund and was bugging me to research how to introduce them. I am more worried about the dog because he is a hunter, although a sweetie pie with people. I am really close to Rocco the dog, so we shall see how it goes. I hope it's as easy as Buddy and the gang of four!
    Reply to this
  • 8/13/2012 2:40 PM Emma wrote:
    Hi, the advice has been incredibly helpful. I am thinking of buying a Siberian kitten, which are great with dogs (apparently).
    I currently have two hyper 7 year old dogs, that like stalking & hunting small animals, very cat like. They often manage to catch birds. Both are friendly, loving attention, and react well to other dogs.
    The dogs have never met a cat before, is it possible it would work?
    Reply to this
    1. 8/15/2012 11:33 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for the kind words. Siberian Forest Cats are one of the larger breeds of domestic felines which is why they are recommended for hyper dogs.  Since your dogs are into hunting, you must be very cautious about introducing a smaller animal of any kind.  Instead of adopting a kitten, I would recommend adopting a large adult cat who has been around large dogs before.  Introduce them slowly to make sure the dogs view the cat as a family member instead of prey.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
      1. 8/16/2012 1:36 PM Emma wrote:
        Shoul probably have mentioned earlier, my dogs are both Japanese spitz, a full grown male Siberian should weigh more than them, and be the same height, it is just kitten stage, if I chose a kitten.
        Thanks for the help, getting a cat is not certain yet, but might be possible with your advice.
        Reply to this
  • 8/16/2012 6:15 PM Lisa wrote:
    I've had a kitten in my house for two weeks now, am i'm shocked to see how well they are doing. I'm very very proud of them. This ten week old kitten isn't scared of anything and I had no idea how much this would do for me and my dog. He actually listens very well to me (better than expected) and I can see he is still being provoked when the kittens dashes across the room, but he stays where I tell him to stay, even across the room! But the most spectacular thing for me is that the one time he can't control himself (usually when I'm too slow to tell him stay) I can actually call him back!
    My one and only worry is that he will always be focused on the kitten. I really hope it'll get old soon and he can just be comfortable not looking at the kitten whenever he moves or jumps. I can only have that now when there is food near. With food they don't care and would even lick it of each other.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/17/2012 1:41 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      You should be proud of your dog, he is doing very well.  Congratulations to you on the great introductions!  Your pets have not been together long enough to make any predictions.  Kittens move in unpredictable ways that stimulate your dog's prey drive.  As the kitten matures and your dog spends more time with the kitten, the novelty will wear off.  I think they will get a long well . . . eventually. 
      Reply to this
      1. 12/28/2012 5:59 AM Lisa wrote:
        Just wanted to update saying that they've been doing great! My dog has a high prey drive but is very good with my kitten. My stray kitten from the shelter is very well behaved overall, litterbox trained from day one, only scratches his scratching post and they play with each other without using teeth or claws. I often find them cuddled up on the sofa together and they share toys and beds. When my cat came back after his castration there was a very warm welcome home from my dog, and even though he was still sleepy he gave a little purr when he got a big dog lick in his face. When my cat runs around the house my dog cant be bothered to chase him, although he might offer to play together with one if his toys if he is in a playful mood too. They seem completely comfortable around each other, there's never any aggression, if one goes too far the other will walk away. I can't be more lucky and happy with these two! We got a great unexpected addition to our family and I want to thank you for your great tips in the first few weeks. In two weeks there was a acceptance, another week later there was respect and since then a friendship has been growing.
        Reply to this
        1. 12/28/2012 7:59 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Congratulations!  I am so happy for you and your furry family.  Thank you for the update and keep up the good work. 
          Reply to this
  • 10/6/2012 9:27 AM luren wrote:
    just got my 8 week old kitten, have a 3yr old sbt who is soft as anything however kitten arches back hisses and sprays when dog is in sight how can i STOP THIS the kitten has its own room and so does dog, only got it today and i stink of horse manure!! any tips x
    Reply to this
    1. 10/7/2012 7:31 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Your kitten is under a lot of stress right now.  It is adjusting to a new home, losing its family and a new dog.  It does not know who is friend or foe.  I recommend keeping the kitten away from the dog for at least a week then gradually start to introduce them.  Let them play under a door and reward good behavior with treats.  The key to introducing kittens to dogs is patience.  Go slow! 
      Reply to this
  • 10/20/2012 2:54 AM Gaye Johnson wrote:
    Hello Dr Nelson!
    I am so glad I found your info on introducing a dog and kittens. We previously had two cats and a dog (pembroke corgi). All three furry members of the family passed away in the past two years (cats at ages 16 and 18, and corgi at age 13 from liver cancer). That corgi came into our lives as a puppy when the cats were around 5. The dog was mostly outside and the cats were purely indoors, so they were never together all that much, and when they were, the cats mostly just avoided the corgi by getting somewhere high or out of the corgi's sight.
    We adopted two Ragdoll kittens last week from a wonderful breeder. They are now 16 and 19 weeks old and well socialised except they have not met dogs before. Today, we brought home a 3-year-old corgi from the same breeder our other one came from (this one is her great niece). The corgi has never seen cats before. She is well trained and extremely gentle in nature.
    I hadn't seen your tips until now (we brought her home this morning). We had the kittens in their safe room when we got home with the corgi and we let the corgi smell and explore the rest of the house, before putting her outside for a while. We then let the kittens out of their safe room and they smelt the corgi's smells throughout the house and then saw her through the screen security door. Their first reaction was to run away but they returned with curiosity within about a minute and just slowly approached the door to take another look. The dog was very non-plussed and didn't bark or jump at the door (thankfully). Throughout today we have been alternating having the kittens in their safe room while the corgi has been in the rest of the house and having the corgi outside while the kittens have been "on the loose".
    During one of those times, one kitten did approach the screen door and the corgi did bark and lunge a little. :( Does this mean they won't ever be able to be together, or is this a normal reaction to start with? The other kitten raised the hairs on her back and growled a little when she saw the corgi.
    My ideal situation would be to work towards being able to have all three animals in the house together and not separated by any doors etc if at all possible, as I would like this dog to be inside a lot more than the last one. Do you think this is possible?
    She is a very gentle and well behaved dog and the kittens are a gentle breed (albeit playful kittens). I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the responsibility of trying to keep all three animals feeling loved and happy and safe.
    Thank you so much for your help!
    Gaye, Brisbane, Australia
    Reply to this
    1. 10/21/2012 12:36 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congratulations on the new additions to your family.  The reaction you described between the corgi and the kittens are normal for this stage of their relationship.  The first step is to teach the corgi that the kittens are not prey.  Once she learns that, the kittens will relax. I would start feeding the kittens on one side of the screen and the dog on the other so they learn to associate good things with each other.   Place the bowls several feet from the screen and slowly bring them closer together.  With time, I think all of your pets will get along if you proceed patiently.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
      1. 10/21/2012 3:04 PM Gaye Johnson wrote:
        Thank you so much Dr Nelson. We will do that and will be prepared to take as long as is necessary. I am very happy to be patient, but it is great that there is hope for long-term pet harmony! :)
        Reply to this
        1. 12/2/2012 5:18 PM Gaye Johnson wrote:
          Hello again Dr Nelson,
          I thought I would come here and share the excellent news that all three furry members of the family are getting on beautifully! :) We took things nice and slowly as you suggested. After they had been sharing the same space at different times and seeing each other through the screen door (including while eating), they all started touching noses though the screen and wanting to be near each other all the time. The kittens in particular became almost infatuated with their "big sister", wanting to be near her, and the corgi became very comfortable having them there. The two kittens would lie on the inside of the screen door and the corgi would lie on the outside, so they could all be together. :)
          We then decided to have the corgi inside on the couch next to me (on her lead as a precaution) and the kittens were so excited to come and get on the couch with her. There was no hissing, growling, claws, nervousness or anything negative. It was so lovely! Lots of sniffing and nose touching occurred, and then as we kept doing this every night for short periods, the kittens started reaching out with their paws (no claws out) and touching the corgi on the nose and her body. They happily let the corgi sniff them. We are at a point now where the corgi is not on the lead at all indoors, although we do supervise, and all three get along beautifully. They seem to love each other a lot, because as soon as the corgi comes inside, the kittens will come to be near her (even if they were asleep under a bed!). They will lie together on the couch and go to sleep. The kitten who at first did the little bit of growling is the one who seems to adore her sister the most. I am extremely happy that all three are getting along so well. :) Thank you so much for your help!
          Reply to this
          1. 12/3/2012 7:48 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
            Congratulations!  I am so happy for you, the kittens and their 'big sister'.  Your hard work and patience paid off.  Great job and thank you for the update.   
            Reply to this
  • 10/21/2012 5:01 PM Glee Hotchkin wrote:
    We just adopted a shelter kitten estimated to be about 5 mos. old. She was a stray and had only been at the shelter for about a week, so they didn't know much about her. She is extremely affectionate but she wants to nurse, so we suspect she lost her mother at a very early age. Do you have any suggestions for comforting her through this? Do you think she will outgrow this behavior? We are following your excellent suggestions for introducing to our 11-year old dog, who lost her first kitty companion, an 18-year-old female, about two months ago. The dog is curious but respectful and very well behaved. Thank you.
    Reply to this
    1. 10/22/2012 8:01 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Congratulations on the new kitten.  She sounds like a wonderful girl.  Nursing behavior may be caused by anxiety, wool sucking in Siamese and masturbation.  Based on your description, I think anxiety would be the logical rule out.  If she is nursing on people, I would redirect her to a blanket or toy.  Otherwise, I would not interfere with the behavior since it brings her comfort.  Entering a new home is stressful, think of your first day at school.  Give her lots of love, attention and exercise to help her adjust to her new surroundings.  I think the behavior will slowly fade away as she matures.  Thanks again for adopting her. 
      Reply to this
  • 10/31/2012 12:30 PM Kim wrote:
    I recently rescued a very small kitten. I don't even think it's 6 weeks old yet because it didn't know how to eat properly. I have a mini Yorkie that I've had for 2 years and she's very spoiled. She doesn't like the kitten at all. I've followed some of your steps above and plan to continue following them, but nothing really seems to be making any difference at this point. My Yorkie just doesn't like the fact that the kitten is there. She snaps at the kitten every time I try to bring them together. She's also acting out by not eating and moping in her crate all day and evening. The only time she's showing me any normality is at night whens he sleeps with me. Do you think I'll ever get this spoiled Yorkie to accept the kitten?
    Reply to this
    1. 10/31/2012 3:01 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I think your Yorkie and kitten can live together but it will take time.  Because the kitten is young and requires a lot of care, it is normal for your dog to feel a little left out especially since she's used to being the center of attention.  Remember to spend time with the Yorkie first, than the kitten.  Also reward the Yorkie with her favorite treat everytime  the kitten is around.  Go very slow and take precautions to keep the kitten safe.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 11/1/2012 5:16 AM Kim wrote:
    Thanks, Dr. Nelson, for your reply. My Yorkie did eat some last night, but not as much as usual. I'm sure she'll get used to the kitten eventually. It's just that I'm wanting it to happen now :) I was giving her treats whenever I would bring the kitten around and she would behave properly, but she wouldn't eat them. She's just being very stubborn and I'm sure a lot of it is because she's so spoiled - which is my fault. I guess I'll just have to deal with it until she's over the moping :) Thanks again for your reply!
    Reply to this
    1. 11/1/2012 1:03 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Hang in there!  Every family goes through this when they bring home a second child, human or animal. 
      Reply to this
      1. 11/20/2012 8:17 AM Kim wrote:
        It's been 4 weeks now and this spoiled Yorkie of mine still isn't very accepting of the kitten. I've seen a slight bit of improvement, but not much. The Yorkie even went through a spell of sickness that I'm sure was brought on by having the kitten there. She's well now, thanks to my local vet :) I guess I just have to keep plugging along with what I'm doing and just hope it will work someday.
        Reply to this
        1. 11/22/2012 8:19 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Hang in there!  I know it's tough for you and your dog but keep up your routine and eventually I think your Yorkie will come around.  I would also enroll your dog in an obedience class to teach her new skills that will help you manage her around the kitten.  As an added benefit, it's really fun.  You will make a lot of friends. 
          Reply to this
  • 11/19/2012 11:19 AM nichola wrote:
    hi i have a 4 & half year old staff cross collie & i have got a 10 week old kitten 3 days ago, how do i introduce them, the kitten has given my dog a slap 3 times and my dog wants 2 go back for more, my dog is quiet playful, boisterous and curious & keeps barking and pineing / crying to get to the kitten, the kitten has not been introduced to dogs before only cats and children. what do i do?
    Reply to this
    1. 11/19/2012 8:44 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I'm afraid you are going too fast for the poor kitten.  Going slow is vital.  Please give the kitten a safe room for a week with no exposure to the dog.  This is your chance to slowly get to know your kitten and vice versa in a protective environment for the kitten.  After a week, then you want to take items with the cat's scent out for the dog to smell and again, vice versa.  Even then the cat should slowly be introduced to the house without the dog present.  It will be important for the kitten to establish their safe places and escape routes in the house.  This will take some time and won't happen with the dog present.  Then, and only then, can you slowly introduce the two of them.  Please take a good look at my blog on the topic of Introducing Kittens To Dogs.  It has the information you need and again the key element is to proceed very slowly.  Good luck! 
      Reply to this
      1. 11/20/2012 5:06 PM nichola wrote:
        i have now had the kitten 5 days she will be in my room most of the time as she cant go outside yet, my dog is usually in my room but my dog is very lonely and sad without my attention, my dog knows sit, wait, lie-down and sit commands as she still acts like a puppy.. i have already tryed to do the scents but my dog doesn't stay in her bed shes usually on my bed and the kitten has been sleeping on my bed so i don't no how to get there scents.. they are separated at the moment, my kitten has already established her safe place under my bed as my dog can not get to her there.. i have made some progress but i think my dog thinks the kitten is a play thing and not an animal. is there a certain age for the kitten to adjust to my dogs presents.
        Reply to this
        1. 11/22/2012 8:25 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Five days is a very short time to expect any changes.  With adult cats and dogs, it often takes months from them to become comfortable with each other.  With a kitten, it usually happens more quickly.  Try to exercise your dog as much as possible during this period.  It will really help.  Hang in there.  It will get better.
          Reply to this
          1. 11/22/2012 9:26 AM nichola wrote:
            i have noticed my dog is a little more calmer around the kitten she still barks and pines a little and still has 2 be held for control but i have noticed my dogs teats have started to grow, what does this mean? could she be pregnant or does she want to mother the kitten? what should i do? my dog has had a phantom pregnancy in the past and this seems different to that. as far as i know my dog has not mated unless a dog had came into the garden I'm not sure. my dog is still very lonely without my company i try to spend as much time with her as possible but shes still pineing for my attention.
            Reply to this
            1. 11/24/2012 10:27 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
              It is very important to work with the dog first and the kitten second.  This will reassure your dog that she is first in the pecking order and that you still love her.  From what you described it could either be a true pregnancy or a false one.  You need to take her to the veterinarian to make that determination and explore next steps.  Good luck!
              Reply to this
              1. 11/25/2012 4:13 PM nichola wrote:
                my dog is now more calmer she isn't barking or pineing as much now and i can have them in the same room as long as the kitten is on me hidden for awhile. i have been letting my dog in my room to get the kittens scent, i have been trying the treats again and she doesn't eat them all the time. i have been giving my dog a lot of praises and she is listening to me more now. we have had the kitten 9 days now and there is a big improvement to the first time my dog saw the kitten. i have still been trying to spend as much time with my dog as possible, i wish she could be in my room again so i could work with her more but we have another dog a jack Russel and she hates cats and hates my dog because she is much bigger & our jack Russel likes 2 be dominate, that's why the kitten has 2 be in my room at the moment because the kitten wont be able to protect herself from our jack Russel.

                as for my dog what are the pregnancy symptoms?
                her teats are now quiet big and her stomach looks bigger too.
                The glands in her bottom teats u can now feel them but she is not producing any milk as of yet.
                Reply to this
                1. 11/25/2012 6:57 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
                  Hi, I'm glad the kitten is doing better.  Unfortunately the symptoms you describe could either represent pregnancy or false pregnancy.  A veterinarian can palpate or feel the abdomen and determine if your girl is pregnant.  Either way, your dog may become protective upon delivering puppies or having false pregnancy.  This poses a risk to your kitten.  So I highly recommend that you visit the veterinarian to learn for sure what you are dealing with. 
                  Reply to this
  • 11/24/2012 7:48 PM Rachel wrote:
    Hi Dr Nelson,
    I found this blog through a few websites and tried the step by step process with introducing my 11 week old Kitten to my 5 year old Weimaraner and all was going well until we moved into the same room, I had the Kitten on my lap and my partner had control of the dog with lots of biscuits - we were worried that it would in fact be our dog who was going to be the problem but we were mistaken! The dog didn't even appear bothered by the kitten just wanted the treats! On the other hand as I had the Kitten in my lap she seemed OK just not moving at all but keeping her beady eye on the dog and then all of a sudden she started growling... so I immediately got up to move her into the next room and as I reached the room she began hissing, spitting and then attacked me! She then hid behind the kitchen cupboards for about 20 minutes before I could tempt her out with some treats. Up until then I had made a great relationship with the Kitten who has not left my side since we got her and slept on my pillow every night. I am very worries that she will associate me with this from here on and she won't trust me again as I put her in this scary situation!
    I have done some research and I know that she was probably just frightened and I should have put her down when she growled rather than carry her out of the room.
    Do you think this will affect the way she will be from me here on out? Is she likely to attack me again?
    I am just looking for a bit of reassurance on the issue.
    If you can suggest any thing or help at all I would be grateful.
    Many Thanks
    Rachel
    Reply to this
    1. 11/25/2012 6:51 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Oh my, you are a very caring owner.  You are right that cats sometimes associate us with the scary event when in fact, we saved them!  But this will work out ok so be sure to hang in there.  I recommend taking a step back and re-establishing your bond with the kitten.  You should put her in the safe room and then bring her food and treats several times per day.  This will rebuild the trust.  The kitten should probably not leave the safe room for one week.  In addition, reassure her with slow blinks and burn off her energy with play.  Then resume the steps as outlined in the blog.  This time, keep the dog busy with the treats and let the kitten decide when to advance.  As her confidence improves, she should hiss less and less.

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  • 1/1/2013 3:18 PM Brenda wrote:
    My husband found a little kitten someone abused and left on top of a high snowbank.This kitty is maybe 4 weeks old was skin and bones,so he brought it home.We have a king Charles cavalier who is always on my lap and now there is this kitten who needs my lap yikes. We have done most of what you said however my dog at first got weird which is expected,the panting and a few barks and when the kitty first got down to play he did chase it so we are working on that and it is slowly going in the right direction.What I did find weird is that the kitty was sleeping and my dog was in the kitchen and came out with a little piece of the kitty food and put it on the rug and rolled on it I think this is a good sign I hope, after he rolled on it brought it over to me and the cat and placed it down on the couch as if this is for you I hope.I did find your site interesting.I do try to make sure that I give my dog his special time and give him his lap time and just last night they were both on me my dog on my lap and the cat I moved up to my chest and they both stayed there.I am hoping it works out and I can keep the cat and they except each other.I am worried that my dog with grab the cat in his mouth or prance on the cat and she is so small.Thank You for your advice on how to introduce them together and I hope all works out.
    Brenda
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    1. 1/2/2013 8:46 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Thank you for taking in this kitten.  King Charles Cavalier's are usually pretty tolerant of other animals.  My sister has a male who is great with cats and other dogs.  Until the kitten matures, I would supervise all interaction closely.  Remember to respect the hierarchy in your house by interacting with the dog first and then the kitten.  Congratulations on the new addition and thanks again for giving this little kitten a home. 
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  • 7/6/2013 1:33 PM Nancy wrote:
    We just got a 3 month old kitten a week ago and are in the process of introducing him to our 5 year old Rottweiler, Bear. Kitty is sequestered in either a bathroom or a bedroom or we let him roam if Bear is outside. I have spoiled Bear because along with three daughters he is my baby but he's a very good and energetic dog.He has always chased cats and tries to chase squirrels. On walks when he walks by certain dogs he barks and pulls but never bears his teeth. I think he just really wants to play! He has a couple of dog friends and just loves to run and play rough.Binks was raised in a foster home with dogs so he seems pretty good around Bear. So far when we bring Binks out to meet Bear the kitty is calm and purrs and Bear begins calm and then escalates to trying to climb up to be higher than Binks, licking, nibbling his ears and once putting Binks head in his mouth.He'll even lay his head on the kitten! I don't understand if Bear is being motherly or tasting Binks. The kitten is getting more and more curious about Bear and only twice got away from us and Bear chased him behind a couch and under a bed. We've put kitty in the carry box and Bear starts out just sniffing and then again gets more riled up....barking and trying to bite at the case. We're giving treats to Bear when he's calm, but the calmness only lasts a couple of minutes. A couple of times my daughter was able to bring Binks out and just watch TV and Bear slept in another room...didn't seem interested. We're giving Bear lots of attention and keeping his routine constant...walks, where he sleeps..all of it. My main question is was Bear tasting the kitten for a future meal or was his behavior okay? I want them to be friends so Bear won't be alone so much in the Fall when we all go back to school and working longer hours! Thanks for your help!
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    1. 7/8/2013 8:42 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Although it may not be intentional, I am worried that Bear may harm the kitten.  The size differential alone gives me concern.  I believe it is vital to get a veterinary behaviorist to make a house call and see them together in the environment.  Many times this can of course, be overcome.  But at this point, I would not leave them alone together until you get this consultation and guidance.  I wish you the best of luck!
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      1. 7/28/2013 7:13 PM Nancy wrote:
        Hi Dr Nelson, So we've lasted a month with Bear (5 year old Rottweiller/Lab mix) and Doc Binks (4 month old kitten) beginning to co exist in the house. It's amazing but after taking it painfully slow, they are beginning to sleep together and just be together in the house without Bear chasing Binks. We still supervise, but slowly we are allowing them to just be together. I'm still hoping for friendship and play, but I think for now they are just learning to trust each other and begin to bond.

        Bear once in a while will still do that weird behavior of looking like he's nibbling on Binks or pushing him with this nose.

        My question is, so far we are not allowing Binks outside and probably won't for another month or so. But, Bear has access to the outside by way of a doggie door. I've been blocking access to it when the kitten is out in the house but eventually he is going to watch Bear and go out into the backyard. He has his claws, so I'd like him to be able to go in and out with Bear once he's a little bigger. Problem is, I have one wall that the foster cat lady said I should raise. I can't afford to do this until the end of August though. Once we are all back to school and work I could lock Binks up in this 'safe' room until we get home, but I'd rather not. Is there a way to just make him afraid of the doggie door or would not actually teaching him to use it dissuade him from using it? Also, could this even work...allowing Binks to go in and out of the house with Bear into the backyard during the day? At night, they'll both be in the house only.

        I appreciate you advice so very much!!!!!! Nancy
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        1. 7/29/2013 11:13 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          Great job with Bear and Doc Binks!  It is a painfully slow process, but well worth it.  Your patience has paid off.  I am also concerned about the mouthing behavior.  Hopefully, the kitten will stop allowing this as he ages.  Make sure to provide plenty of high places for escape when Bear starts nibbling or pushing the kitten around.   

          The great outdoors is a dangerous place for Doc Binks.  I always recommend keeping cats strictly indoors with access to a screened in porch.  To keep Doc Binks away from the doggy door, you might want to dry a motion activated air canister.  You can buy them on-line or better pet stores.  The trick is to make sure that Bear is not afraid of using the door when the canister is in place.  When you are not at home, I would put him in the safe room to make sure there aren't any accidents.  As long as you tire Doc out with lots of play before and after, he will be fine.  Congrats again on the improvement. 


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  • 8/6/2013 3:30 PM jess wrote:
    Hi, I just introduced our 3 dogs to our new kitten. I let them sniff each other's stuff, etc. i hold her on my lap for an hour or so, then back in her room for a couple hours. She is only 2 months old. Our lab and beagle seem indifferent. Our terrier/basset mix however is VERY curious and we do not know if this is good or bad! Dog licks her back a lot, and kind of noses her. He also kind of guards her door sometimes when she is having alone time. A family member "joked" he is licking her to see what she tastes like. Any thoughts?? Thanks so much!!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/7/2013 10:12 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      The licking and nosing behavior can go either way.  I have seen dogs like my own who become good friends with the kittens while others have become aggressive.  In my experience, the best approach is to allow the dog to get to know the kitten while you are supervising.  Let them lick and smell to their heart's content as long as this behavior does not stress the kitten.  Make sure you are holding the kitten and can separate the two immediately if the dog's behavior escalates.  Depending upon the curiosity level of the dog, it may take a few days to several months to extinguish this behavior.  Good luck! 
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  • 9/9/2013 1:40 PM Sherry wrote:
    I have 5 older dogs that are used to cats. My last old kitty died in December. I bought a 9 week old Scottish Fold kitten in early July. She was a little scared the first night, but took to the dogs immediately with no hissing. I brought home two rescue Siamese mixes (one male and one female) two days after getting the Scottish Fold. The Siamese mixes love each other, get along well and play together. I took the Scottish Fold into the safe room the Siamese mixes were in, and she immediately growled and hissed, so I removed her. It turned out that the rescue kittens had ringworm, herpes & calici virus. They stayed quarantined in their safe room on the opposite side of the house while recovering and getting antibiotics, etc. I put up a screen door so that they could gradually get used to seeing the dogs, one by one. Now that the rescues are well, they have one half of the house with the screen door where the Scottish Fold female can see them (for the past 2-3 weeks or so). I'm sure they smelled each other's scents along the way, but I couldn't share bedding until the Scottish fold developed enough immunity from her two FVRCP vaccinations.
    The Siamese mixes get along with the dogs, and the Scottish Fold gets along GREAT with the dogs, even ricocheting off of them as she zooms around the house running laps. The problem is that the Scottish Fold REALLY resents the Meezers. They are quite confident (learning how to occasionally open the screen door), strolling around in Scottish territory. The Fold follows, chases, hisses and growls at either of the Meezers. She is not food-motivated a d is not distracted by treats. I have tried short visits, and from what I've read. It will work out eventually, but the Fold to Meezer interaction is not going well so far. Any tips? In hindsight, I would not have gotten the rescues, but I thought the Fold would like to have somebody from her own species to play with instead of the "boring" dogs.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/11/2013 5:58 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Have you tried introducing the Fold to one kitten at a time?  In my experience, the two siblings will be much less feisty when separated from e.  I would each other.  I recommend introducing the Fold to the least dominant Siamese mix first.  After those two are comfortable, introduce the Fold to the more dominant Siamese mix without the sibling around.  Try to tire the kittens out with play before the introduction.  Hope that helps!
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  • 11/10/2013 12:45 PM Cindy wrote:
    Thank you for this article, it has been very helpful. We have a 7 year old (possibly) rottweiler mix named Gracie. She has always chased cats out of our yard. But a visit to Petsmart we introduced her to a kitten that she only smelled. We decided to give fostering kittens a chance. We started with a pair who were 3-4 weeks old. Set them up in a safe room with a babygate, my huusband screwed a flourescent light cover to one side so we knew they couldn't climb it. Scents were swapped via towels. After time visuals were done. The youngest kitten hated Gracie instantly. The oldest loved her. Gracie smelled all over the oldest but tried to put her mouth on her. Obviously this scared us to death. The oldest Penny jumped on top of the babygate and out. Gracie chased her but didn't hurt her. Over time I let them come out of safe room with me holding on to Gracie. She would jump at their sudden movements. Those kittens have been adopted out. Then we received 2 week old Zoey. She had to be bottlefed and her bottom wiped to potty. So naturally I was holding her a lot. Gracie smelled her on me constantly. We held Zoey and let her sleep and climb on us with Gracie in the same room. She would sleep at night in the laundry room. When she was bigger we let her roam the floor while holding Gracie's collar. Gracie smelled all over Zoey. Sometimes trying to put her mouth on her, when she does this we tell Gracie firmly "No" Zoey is now 5 weeks old. Daily we allow her to walk around/play while we hold on to Gracie. She has patted Gracie's nose (with no claws) Gracie smells her, licks her and whines sometimes. Once pawing at her because I think she wants to play. But still
    occasionally will try to put her mouth on Zoe
    y. I lay Zoey on my body and pet them at the same time. I am nervous still about Gracie putting her mouth on her but encouraged with the licking and calmly watching Zoey play. Where do we go from here?
    Reply to this
    1. 11/11/2013 8:45 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      You have done a phenomenal job with Gracie.  Nonetheless, and I'm really sad to say this, I have to recommend that you not keep any of the kittens.  From what you have described, I believe it would be asking too much of Gracie.  I can tell how terrible you would feel if Gracie hurt a kitten and that seems like a real possibility.  I hope this additional perspective is helpful even though I am certain it is not welcome news.  
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  • 11/13/2013 8:38 AM Nancy wrote:
    Dear Gracie's mom, I'd like to share with you our experience in introducing our Rottweiler/Lab mix, Bear, to our kitten, Mo (previously named Binks). I think you should take Dr. Nelson's advice over mine, but in case you do decide to press on and keep the kitten, here is what we experienced. Five months ago we brought a little 3 month old tuxedo kitten home to be company for Bear. We followed Dr. Nelson's advice exactly. Mo had a safe room, we introduced Bear and Mo very, very slowly with Bear on a leash for very short intervals of time. We even brought Mo out in the cat carrier for Bear to sniff, which drove Bear crazy! As time went on and we spent more and more time with Mo and Bear out in the house after we graduated Mo out of his safe room, things did improve. It seemed that once the kitty wasn't 'forbidden fruit' anymore Bear calmed down a bit. We were also very, very sure to keep Bear's routine....he kept his daily walks, rides in the car, where he ate and slept and was given a lot of extra love to stem jealously. What gave me courage was when a friend told me that it took a full three months for his golden retriever to learn to live in harmony with their chickens and baby chicks. We always made sure that Mo could run to a safe place and he wasn't given the run of the house for a couple of months. Very slowly, Bear learned that Mo wasn't a snack and we expected him to treat Mo as family, not prey. They do chase and lately we've noticed that Mo chases Bear! The mouthing scared me too but another friend told me that their dog does this to all three of their cats all the time. When Mo would flop on his back and Bear would push him around with his paw and mouth him, we stayed close and put our hand at his mouth. He doesn't use his teeth, just an open mouth all over Mo. When Mo tires of this he'll either run away or squiggle under a chair where they can still play but he feels that he has some control. Many times, Mo will bite at Bear's lip and Bear doesn't seem to mind. Now, 5 months later, Mo and Bear play and even fall asleep together sometimes. Most of the time Bear just watches Mo, like he finds the kitty amusing. So, please listen to Dr. Nelson, follow all of her advice and if you decide to keep the kitty, have patience, lots of love and stay very, very close while going through the getting to know you process. Good luck!
    Reply to this
    1. 11/26/2013 5:47 PM Cindy wrote:
      Nancy, thank you so much for replying here. We have followed all Dr Nelson's advice. I was very disheartened when she responded to not keep any of the kittens. This is the advice we haven't followed. Zoey has a safe room but she comes out for a couple of hours of supervised playtime everyday. Gracie has gotten better with her over time. Zoey pats Gracie on the face and Gracie has no problem with it at all, shoving her face back at Zoey to do it again. Zoey also pounces on Gracie's feet and tail, we try to discourage this because she bites. But Gracie has not once growled or acted aggressively. We are still monitoring very closely. But they seem to enjoy eachother's company. We will continue to take it slowly. I do think Gracie realizes Zoey is part of the family and not prey. I'm guessing Dr Nelson's advice for us not to keep the kitten stemmed from the fact that Gracie puts her mouth on them, like your Bear. I have witnessed this very closely. And Zoey runs back for more! I believe with much more slow interaction they will be lifelong friends.
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  • 11/30/2013 11:54 AM Nancy wrote:
    Dear Cindy, I'm so glad that our experience has helped you!!!! Again, if you decide to press on, and it sounds like you're going to.......lots of time and lots and lots of love and courage!!! I do feel we've found harmony in our house. I never knew I could fall in love with a kitty. When I was a kid, my sister had outside cats. Seeing Bear and Mo together makes me love them both even more!!! Bear does give a little growl once in a while, but it's more 'please don't lay behind my head and annoy me when I'm trying to sleep' than 'I want to eat you'. In the same time period, both Mo and Bear were on a bed and Mo slowly crept up to Bear and nestled himself into the curve of Bear's body. He stayed there for a few minutes and they both seemed very comfy until kitty lost interest and had to move on! There are so many sweet moments and now I think I see them looking for each other and seeking the other out! I think once your kitty isn't 'forbidden fruit' that Gracie will calm down and you might find harmony as well. Good luck to you and your babies!!!!
    Reply to this
    1. 1/17/2014 5:36 PM Cindy wrote:
      Gracie and Zoey play together everyday now. Gracie also has an occasional growl when she doesn't want to be bothered. They run through the house playing, when Gracie gets to rough or Zoey has had enough she runs away and that's the end of it for awhile. Quite often Zoey is found smuggling up to Gracie. I'd say we have been successful in integrating her into the family. We plan to continue to foster and if the right baby comes along we just may have room for one more.
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  • 1/19/2014 12:19 PM Nancy wrote:
    I'm so, so happy to hear about your Gracie and Zoey!!! Just like my Bear and Mo!!! It gets better too, the more you trust them with eachother!! Bear (Rottweiller) and Mo (10 month Tuxedo) can frequently be found snuggling on my bed. Sometimes the kitty annoys Bear and Bear will give a little growl, but then they'll play. I love watching their friendship. We're still careful to not let Mo walk too close to Bear when he's eating a cookie but even that is handling itself. I'm so glad for your babies and your family that you stuck it out!! Congrats and be well!!
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