According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), nearly half of all households in the U.S. include at least one dog or cat.
However, the ACAAI has also found that many pet owners -- 10 million, to be exact -- are actually allergic to the animals they own and love. Some of allergy-prone animal lovers address the issue by opting for so-called hypoallergenic pets, or breeds that tend to shed less, even though no cat or dog breed is truly 100 percent hypoallergenic. Others try to minimize reactions through grooming. Though it won't completely eliminate pet allergy problems, this approach can prove to be helpful, says Dr. Karen Halligan, director of veterinary services at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (spcaLA). The key is in knowing what you're up against and how proper grooming techniques can help.
Root of the Problem
First, it's important to understand what causes pet allergy symptoms. Halligan, who is also the author of "What Every Pet Owner Should Know: Prescriptions for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs," puts it this way: "People who are allergic are reacting to proteins that are produced by the pet's skin or saliva, which are also found in the hair, hair root, mucous, urine and dander of both cats and dogs."
The protein acts as an allergen -- a substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies -- to allergy-prone people. These allergens become airborne during the animal's natural shedding process, and end up everywhere: on carpet, drapes, blinds, furniture -- even on clothes. For someone who has pet allergies, coming into contact with these allergen-dusted items can trigger everything from sneezing, watery eyes and rashes to difficulty breathing and, in severe cases, an asthma attack.
The goal of grooming is to keep your pet from shedding as much, so that the allergens don't make their way onto all of your belongings. "With regular brushing and bathing, you decrease the amount of dander/hair present, which will in turn lessen allergic reactions to these highly antigenic proteins," Halligan says.
Brushing (and Washing and Wiping) Your Cares Away
The specific grooming practices you should follow may depend on the type of pet you have, since some breeds are more high maintenance than others. In general, though, a good rule of thumb is to implement a weekly routine that starts with brushing. This will not only benefit the people in your household who have allergies, it will help the animal as well.
"The skin is the largest organ on a dog or cat's body, so it's important to keep it clean and healthy," Halligan says. "Brushing your pets regularly helps spread their natural oils in the skin, gets rid of dirt, loose dead hair, and dander, and it prevents matting, which can lead to skin infections. Plus, it makes them feel good." There are a number of different brushing tools on the market; some made specifically to handle coarse or fine hair. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on which one would work best for your pet.
Weekly grooming should also include bathing your pet or even just wiping him down with wet paper towels. There are some bathing products, such as anti-dander pet shampoos, which claim to help fight pet allergens, but the effectiveness of these options is still in question. However, even if you don't use a specialty product on your pet, the washing process itself can be helpful.
One final note: While regular grooming can provide some relief for people who have animal allergies, it's best to leave the actual task to someone who is allergy-free, whether that's another person in your household or a professional. The grooming process will kick up the very same allergens you're trying to avoid, so if you have pet allergies, keep yourself -- and your eyes, nose and lungs -- out of harm's way by surrendering brushing and bathing duties to someone else. Then just sit back and enjoy the results: some sneeze-free time in the company of your favorite pet.
Our cats are living longer than ever, which leads to the question, “What should old cats eat?”
If we’re talking about cats who are truly nearing the end of their lives, I think the answer is “whatever they want.”
Cats become extremely finicky eaters as their quality of life declines, so I consider it a great success if we can get them to eat anything at all. Before we reach that point, however, there’s a lot owners can do from a nutrition standpoint to maximize their cat’s health and longevity.
A cat’s digestive physiology changes as it gets older. Around the age of 11 or 12, the ability to digest fat starts to decline. Fats contain more calories per gram than do either proteins or carbohydrates, so this can have a major effect on an older cat’s ability to extract calories (energy) from food. To make matters worse, research has shown that around 20% of cats over the age of 14 have a reduced ability to digest protein. Put these two conditions together and without dietary intervention, a cat will lose both fat and muscle mass. The loss of muscle mass is especially concerning because these individuals are at increased risk of illness and death.
Most older cats also have some degree of arthritis and are at heightened risk for kidney disease. Advanced age also increases the production of free radicals within the body. A free radical is “a group of atoms containing oxygen and electrons that can alter and damage the chemical structure of cells or other compounds.”
Free radicals essentially “steal” electrons from whatever is nearby. When another molecule is forced to give up an electron, it often becomes a free radical itself, which continues the cycle of cellular injury.
Based on all this, a good diet for an older cat has the following characteristics:
These recommendations can certainly change if an older cat suffers from a disease that is managed, at least in part, through diet. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine which particular food might be best for your cat based on its individual needs.
Ever wonder what fleas feed on or how long they can live?
Well, wonder more. Here are 10 curious facts about those pesky fleas.
1. Fleas have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, biting adult.
2. Fleas feed on the blood of their host -- humans, birds, reptiles, and wild and domestic animals.
3. The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.
4. A flea can live more than 100 days without a blood meal.
5. The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily.
6. A flea can jump up to 8 inches high, or approximately 150 times its own height. That's like if you could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
7. Pets with fleas may develop anemia, tapeworms or intense bouts of itching (pruritus).
8. Some pets may develop an allergy to flea saliva, which causes severe irritation and itchiness.
9. The best way to check for fleas is with a flea comb.
10. Even though there are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas, one flea species -- the cat flea -- accounts for most of the dog and cat flea cases found in the U.S.
We all strive to be the best pet parents we can be, but we often accidentally encourage those naughty behaviors that drive us nuts. Sometimes these behaviors develop slowly as your dog matures, while other times, it’s just a single episode where your dog learns that the behavior “works” that sets it in stone.
It’s challenging to stop a behavior with a strong reward history. For example, if your dog has been getting goodies off of your plate every time he whines for months, it could take double the time to “un-train” the behavior as it did for him to start doing it. The following are some of the top pet-parent encouraged problems, along with tips to make them go away forever.
This behavior can creep up on you, because at first, getting jumped on seems sort of cute. A dog that leaps up on you is very clearly demonstrating his unbridled affection for you, and we like to be on the receiving end of all that love. So we nurture it with pats, laughter and encouragement, and our dogs learn that we like it when they hop all over us. Then, something changes — be it a growth spurt from puppy to adult dog, a job change that requires wearing nice clothing every day, an injury, or a new baby in the house — and suddenly, the jumping up is not only a nuisance, it can also be dangerous. But try to tell that to your dog, who loves interacting with you this way!
To curb a dedicated jumper, simply stop acknowledging the behavior (a warning: it’s not as easy as it sounds). Any attention counts, so refrain from even scolding your dog when he leaps on you. Wait for a moment of calm when your dog has four paws on the floor — it might be literally just a moment at first — and interact with him at that point. If he jumps up again, turn your back until he stops, then resume contact. Leash your dog and step on the midpoint of the leash if he likes to jump on your guests. That way he can mingle with people without delivering a paw to the gut.
They call them “puppy eyes” for a good reason. It’s hard to resist them when your dog gives you that look that seems to say, “I’m starving to death,” so of course you give in and share whatever is on your plate. Our desire to give our dogs bits of people food comes from a place of love, and while that generosity is kind, the reality is you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of splitting your food with your dog.Instead of sharing, give your dog his own delicious treat while you eat. Find a treat-stuffable activity toy or bone that will keep your dog happily occupied during meal time. If your dog finishes before you do and resorts to begging again, ignore him. (Again, if you have a persistent dog it’s not easy to do!) This behavior, like many of these problem behaviors, will likely go through what’s called an “extinction burst,” which is a temporary increase in the begging behavior before it goes away. It’s a challenging but predictable part of the re-training process, and usually an indicator that you’re almost at the finish line, so don’t give up.
Dogs have places to go and things to pee on, and if your dog is a puller, you’re just an anchor keeping him from the next adventure. Pulling is another “creep up” behavior because we often allow our dogs to pull now and then, not realizing that if we let the pulling continue, we’re going to end up competing with our dogs’ muscle memory. Dogs very quickly learn that “a tight leash means I go forward,” and that feeling of tension around their necks becomes the set point for walking.
The goal is to teach your dog that pulling never works, and a loose leash is the way to go. When your dog pulls, stop walking every single time (you really have to pay attention during this exercise). When he circles back to you, or even looks back at you, offer him a reward right next to you, so that he has to come close to get it, and continue walking. Give your dog intermittent treats for remaining by your side as you stroll, so that’s he’ll soon understand that walking close to you is the best place to be.
A dog that barks and expects to get what he wants, whether his dinner or a ball that’s rolled under the couch, is a bossy dog. And if you give him what he’s asking for, you’re keeping the pushy behavior alive. Demand barking tends to work because at the heart of it, we just want the noise to stop. The problem is that it teaches your dog that causing a ruckus is more effective than asking politely.
To start the retraining process, instill a “say please” program, where your dog has to sit for everything he wants. Get him to sit before you toss the ball, or put his food bowl down, or open the door to the yard. At the same time, teach your dog that barking never works. If you’re prepping his dinner and he “yells” at you to hurry up, put his bowl down and walk away. If he barks at you to throw the ball, drop it and do something else. Your dog will soon learn that barking makes you do the opposite of what he wants.
Nipping and Biting
Puppies pass through a predictable nippy stage when they’re teething. This is an uncomfortable rite of passage for puppy parents, but typically ends within a few weeks when the appropriate steps are taken. However, sometimes we allow piranha mouths well past the acceptable expiration date, and end up with an adult dog that thinks it’s okay to communicate with teeth on skin. It might happen because the pet parent has a small dog and thinks it’s fine because the nips don’t hurt. Or maybe it’s because the pet parent is a tough guy and likes to play rough with the dog to get a nippy response. Whatever the case, allowing an adult dog to communicate with his teeth blurs the lines of acceptable behavior.
Although curbing an adult nipper isn’t as easy as tackling it when the dog is young, the way to go about it is exactly the same. Mark the exact moment that your dog’s teeth touch you with a shrill “ouch!” and then walk away for thirty seconds. If your dog mouths you while you’re playing with him, mark the infraction by saying “ouch,” drop the toy and walk away. The combination of the “ouch” marker — to let him know when he crossed the line — and the withdrawal of your attention will soon help your dog understand that you don’t want to hang out with a bitey buddy.
A breath of fresh air can do wonders for both you and your pet. Outdoor activities not only provide exercise and mental stimulation, but also help curb bad behaviors by giving your furry friend a chance to release excess energy. So set aside the remote, step outside with your pet, and have some fun al fresco style - we've got plenty of ideas to get you started!
Organize a Play Date
Play dates are a great way for dogs to keep their socialization skills sharp. Find a dog park in your area to meet and greet with other pups, or if you have your own fenced-in yard, invite friends or family members over with their pets for an afternoon of backyard fun. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand along with bags to clean up after any messes, and keep a close eye on the group to make sure everyone plays nice. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Ning can also be a great resource for finding a doggie meet-up in your area, even ones based on specific breeds.
Get Active With an Activity
Whether it's in your own back yard or at a local dog park, you can up the outdoor ante with a game of Frisbee or fetch. Most dogs love to hunt and retrieve, and you can also use these types of games for training opportunities as well. If you don't have access to a confined space, consider biking with your pup. There are a number of leashes made specifically to attach safely to a bicycle - never try this by holding the leash in your hands while steering, as this practice is an accident waiting to happen. Start slowly and teach your dog to keep pace with a steady trot, and build up the distance gradually as well. You can also search for canine biking classes in your area.
Take a Hike
Even if you take your dog on regular walks in your neighborhood, hitting the hiking trail can provide a challenging, refreshing change of scenery. You can vary between a leisurely or more intense pace and even mix up the length of your outings, from short stints to an all-day excursion. Before you head out, make sure your pup has adequate protection from ticks and fleas, pack enough water for both of you, and don't forget a collapsible bowl and a few treats for your pup. Need tips on tracking down a trail? Check out Hike With Your Dog for the most dog-friendly locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Visit an Outdoor Café
Pet-friendly dining is becoming more and more popular with establishments that offer outdoor seating, from coffeehouses to full-fledged restaurants. If you have a well-behaved pooch, it can be a great opportunity to relax and bond. Make sure your dog relieves itself before settling in, and keep extra bags on hand just in case. Keep your pup out of the way of other diners and the wait staff, and attach the lease to your chair, not the table - your weight makes a much better anchor than plates can provide. Speaking of plates, feeding your pooch from your own is a big no-no - keep treats on hand instead. Dog Friendly provides a list of restaurants across the U.S. that welcome four-legged friends, but it's always a good idea to call ahead first and double check.
Test the Waters
Water sports can be a great way to cool off your pup on a hot day. Though many dogs are natural swimmers, getting a Coast Guard-approved pet life preserver is worth the investment to play it safe, whether you're in your own pool or a nearby lake or stream. There are a number of waterproof, buoyant toys available as well that can make splish-splash time even more enjoyable. If you live near a beach and you're an experienced surfer, why not take your dog along for the ride? Make sure your pup is comfortable in not just calm waters but waves as well, and consider a foam surfboard for starters, as this will provide an adequate amount of standing room and grip. Also consider taking your furry friend along for a canoe or kayak ride, but make sure you're both outfitted in the necessary safety gear.
Here, Kitty Kitty
Contrary to popular belief, outdoor fun isn't just for dogs. With the right preparation, cats can get in on the action, too, even if you have a cat that primarily spends time indoors. If you have a yard with a high fence, you can take your kitty out for some supervised exploring. Also, fence-type, portable kennels made for dogs work just as well for cats, and many offer adjustable shelves and ramps to enhance playtime. While most cats don't take to a leash naturally, some will with a bit of training, or you can explore the stroller option, which gives kitty a moving but safe view of outside sights and sounds.
If your dog seems to worry when you're heading out, destroys stuff when you leave the house, follows you from room to room when you're home, goes berserk when you come back and seems to be eyeing you suspiciously even before you leave—you may be dealing with a case of separation anxiety.
Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit distress and behavior problems when they're left alone. Some of the most common ways are:
What causes separation anxietyIt's not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don't. But remember, your dog's behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn't trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!
These are some of the scenarios that can trigger separation anxiety:
How to treat minor separation anxiety
How to handle a more severe problem. Use the techniques outlined above along with desensitization training. Teach your dog the sit-stay and down-stay commands using positive reinforcement. This training will help them learn that they can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another room.
Create a "safe place" to limit your dog's ability to be destructive while you’re away. A safe place should:
How to cope while your dog learns to be calm. It can take time for your dog to unlearn their panic response to your departures. To help you and your dog cope in the short term, consider the following interim solutions:
If you need more assistance resolving your dog's issues, consult a professional animal behavior specialist.
Most of us understand that this affects how we go about our day, and the intrepid make the necessary adjustments so they can continue their normal activities without problems. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who still fall short in the common sense department.
I took my dog Brody for a hike yesterday, starting early because I knew the day was going to hit 80 degrees before noon. When we parked I saw a huge sign out front with a heat warning and a message for people to be sure to bring enough water for themselves as well as their pets. The park ranger told me it’s not uncommon for them to see at least several dogs a year die of heat stroke on the trails, which are remote enough where there is no easy access out other than the way you came in. And it’s tragic because it’s so preventable.
Fortunately, the signs seem to be helping. On this hot day I saw plenty of dogs and people carrying lots of water. We stop at least every 30 minutes to let Brody drink, and he plops himself face first into the bowl with glee. We also picked a trail that curves around a lake, so halfway through he was able to take a dip and then enjoy the cooling evaporation process on the hike back.
Because dogs don’t have sweat glands the way humans do, they are limited to panting as their major cooling effort. (They do have some sweat glands in their paws, though they are not the principal mechanism for cooling.) This, coupled with the insulation effect of their fur, means they are prime candidates for heat exhaustion, particularly if they haven’t been building up to longer walks—which is why the weekend warriors are the ones who so frequently run into trouble.
Everyone should know the signs of heat exhaustion and impending heat stroke in dogs: sluggishness, very heavy panting, bright red gums, hypersalivation (which can progress to the opposite: dry tacky gums), vomiting or diarrhea, and collapse. In the later stages, death can occur rapidly if not treated in an ER.
Certain dogs are especially prone to heat stroke: overweight pets, brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds like pugs and bulldogs, and dogs with dark coats. If you have any suspicion that your dog is showing early signs of heat exhaustion, stop, spray your pet with cool water (NOT ice!), and call an ER for guidance.
Of course, the best solution is to prevent it from happening in the first place by being aware of the risks. Avoid walks during the hottest periods of the day, acclimate your pet to longer walks, and make sure you take plenty of water breaks. And for goodness sake, don’t leave your pet in the car on a hot day. But you knew that one, right?
As we head into the hot months, remember with a little planning there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the great outdoors. Have fun and stay safe
With a new bundle of joy on the way, the "to do's" might seem endless, but if you've already got a four-legged "baby" at home, preparing for the transition is an important item to add to the list. Dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to any changes in routine and surroundings, including sights and smells, so you'll need to plan accordingly. Know what to expect from your pet when you're expecting - check out our tips before the big day arrives, and make sure keep your household remains a happy one!
Basic Training:Use the next nine months to address any obedience concerns, or even just to reaffirm the basics. What might have seemed like minor infractions before, such as jumping up on the couch or on guests, will be an even bigger no-no once the baby arrives. Best to nip any lagging behavioral issues in the bud now - and don't be surprised if you have to make a return visit to the trainer down the road as well.
Intensive Workshops:Many local humane societies offer special workshops for pet owners who are now parents-to-be. These sessions provide in-depth guidance on the best methods and techniques for acclimating your pet to the impending change in the household, along with an intimate group setting where a trainer can address any specific concerns you might have, such as how to handle the transition with two pets. Visit the ASPCA to find a workshop in your area.
Check-up:Take your dog or cat in for their annual exam before the baby arrives to make sure your pet is in tip-top shape and void of any dangerous parasites or bugs. While you're at it, stop at the groomer's as well and get pups a "pet-icure" to avoid any accidental scratches.
Set the Stage:Be sure to set up the nursery well in advance of the little one's arrival to give your pet time to get used to the furniture. Bring in some of basic supplies as well, such as baby powder and diaper rash cream (kept out of reach, of course) - this will give your pet a head start on some of the new smells that the baby will bring. Consider introducing a baby sounds CD for brief periods throughout the day in the time leading up to your due date to give your pet an idea of the audio impact as well.
Dress Rehearsal:If you have friends or family members with infants, see how your pet reacts to their presence. Never allow your pet to show any signs of aggression, and heap on the positive reinforcement for any and all good behaviors around any "practice" babies. If you're short on friends with kids, try using a baby doll wrapped in the blanket you intend to bring home the real deal in - it may feel a bit odd at first, but it's a tried-and-true trick that works!
Meet and Greet:Meet and Greet:Once baby is born, first have a family member or friend bring home something such as your infant's blanket or beanie to familiarize your pet with his or her scent. For the initial face-to-face meeting, your pet will likely be most eager to see the new mommy first, so have the proud papa hold the baby during this reunion. This might also be a perfect opportunity to bring home a new toy for your pet, to further mark the special day in a positive way.
Poop Proof:It's commonly known that expecting mothers need to avoid the cat litter box as the feces can be dangerous, particularly if it's carrying a parasite called toxoplasma gondii, which can result in toxoplasmosis. While this disease does not pose a serious threat to adults because of their established immunity, children who are born with it or contract it as infants can suffer greatly, including hearing loss, mental retardation and blindness. Cat owners must continue to take precautions once the baby is born - always wear gloves when changing the litter, wash hands thoroughly and, of course, always keep your baby away from the cat box. Also make sure you dispose of diapers in a pet-proof container - otherwise they could easily become a new play toy for your pet and make them sick or, at the very least, create a big mess!
Private Pet Time:Once the baby is born, it's particularly important to make time JUST for your pet every day, even if it's only a 15-minute play break, belly rub or one-on-one walk, sans the stroller. This will help curb jealousy and bad behaviors that could come as a result. And remember above all, positive reinforcement goes a long way - praise your pet each and every time they exhibit good behavior with your baby (and on the flip side, correct any bad behaviors immediately). The repetition will catch on quickly, and condition your pet to recognize that minding its manners yields the most rewards!
Pain it isn’t always obvious to others when you’re experiencing it. Unless it’s a broken leg twisted at a 90-degree angle or a big bruise on your arm, pain is a condition with no obvious external manifestations. Sure, some people are good at going around making sure everyone knows they’ve stubbed a toe or pulled a groin muscle, but other people are more like cats—you’d never know anything was wrong.
Cats are renowned for their ability to mask pain and discomfort. This is a great advantage when out in the wild around a predator, but it’s a big problem in a home when pet owners are unaware that their pet has a problem.
Cat Pain: What We Know Veterinarians have come a long way in understanding pain in pets. With that understanding comes the knowledge that we are very likely undertreating pets for pain they are commonly experiencing. Arthritis, dental disease, urinary tract disease, bone disease, and cancer are just a few of the common feline medical conditions that are known to be painful. Pain management specialists have a mantra they often repeat: “Assume pain.” If you diagnose a painful medical condition, pain management should be part of the treatment, every time.
Cats may not speak, but they do communicate their pain in their own ways. Although they can’t come up to us and say, “I’m hurting,” cats do exhibit behavioral changes that can indicate they are experiencing pain. The American Animal Hospital Association has pain management guidelines that can help owners and veterinarians manage feline pain.
Recognize the Signs of Cat Pain
CHANGE IN ACTIVITY LEVEL
A change in activity level can indicate discomfort. Cats might become less active and sleep more hours than they used to. Stiff, arthritic cats may be reluctant to change positions, or no longer jump onto high surfaces. Conversely, cats may become more active: restless, repetitively getting up and down, and seeming to have difficulty getting comfortable.
While many people associate biting and licking with allergies, pets in pain often repetitively lick and bite at painful areas. They may do it so often that they cause secondary trauma to their body in the form of skin infections and hair loss.
Most of us know that a hissing or growling cat is an unhappy cat, but did you know meows and purrs can accompany pain as well? Some cats purr when they are frightened or hurting, and it does not always indicate contentment. This is particularly true for cats with an easygoing or gentle personality.
CHANGE IN DAILY ROUTINE
A cat whose appetite suddenly drops may be feeling too much pain to eat, or may be experiencing nausea from a disease process. Cats who have an abrupt onset of soiling in the house after years of using the litterbox may be too painful to get in and out of a box with high sides, or too sore to get to where the box is located. A lap cat who suddenly can’t stand being held may be experiencing pain when they are touched or pet. Any of these changes in their usual personality and preferences may be medical in origin.
Cats do a version of the “little old person shuffle” when they are stiff; they walk very gingerly and avoid the usual athletic leaps we are accustomed to seeing. Cats with abdominal pain may have a hunched back, tucking in their abdomen in a protective posture. You may also notice a cat being protective of a certain area of their body, not wanting to be touched or scratched; they may also limp or hesitate to put weight on a sore limb.
Granted, facial expression can be difficult to gauge in a cat, but certain giveaways can indicate pain or discomfort. A vacant stare at nothing in particular, or a “glazed” expression is common. Cats in distress can also have dilated pupils—part of the stress response in the body. Unlike in dogs, cats do not normally pant. If you notice a panting cat, particularly when she is at rest, you should get her evaluated as soon as possible.
Some cats are naturally surly for their entire lives. It can be hard to tell if they are escalating their level of aggression. However, a normally friendly cat who is suddenly hissing, swatting, and biting may be a cat in pain. Out-of-character meanness is a cat’s way of asking to be left alone.
POOR COAT CONDITION
Cats are expert groomers, spending up to five hours a day on maintaining their silky coats. However, pain from arthritis can make it difficult to contort themselves into their normal grooming positions, and pain in general can make a cat too uncomfortable or worn out to maintain their normal routine. A cat who stops grooming and starts to look unkempt may be in pain and needs to be evaluated.
Upon arriving at home, place the kitten in a small, quiet area with food and a litter box. If the kitten is very tiny, a small litter box with low sides will be necessary at first. If possible, duplicate the type of litter material that was used in the kitten’s previous home.
Kitten Proofing the HomeSet up a safe and secure area where you can leave your kitten when you are not available for supervision. This location should have a food bowl, water bowl, litter box, play toys, a scratching post, and a resting area. Make sure the space is big enough to accommodate all of these things.
Since it is advisable to feed your kitten multiple small meals throughout the day, you may choose to also provide a feeding area in this room. All kittens and cats will need time to investigate their new surroundings, but make sure to inspect the area for nooks and crannies where a kitten might hide or get stuck. For a new kitten this is a more manageable task if you limit the available space initially. Be sure that any area where your kitten is allowed to roam has been effectively cat-proofed, which includes anywhere the kitten can jump or climb.
Potentially dangerous items like electric cords and items that might be chewed or swallowed, such as thread, rubber bands, paper clips, or children’s toys, should be kept out of reach. After your new kitten has had some quiet time in a restricted location, slowly allow access to other areas of the home, under your supervision.
Kittens are natural explorers and will use their claws to climb up onto anything possible. In the first few weeks, slow access to the home will allow for exploration as well as the ability for you to monitor the kitten's behavior.
Introducing the New Kitten to Your Other PetsAlthough some kittens may show fear and defensive postures toward other pets in the home, most young kittens are playful and inquisitive around other animals. Therefore, it is often the existing pets that can pose more of a problem. If you know or suspect that your adult dog or cat might be aggressive toward the kitten, then you should seek professional behavior advice before introducing the pets to each other.
The kitten should be given a safe and secure area that provides for all of its needs (as described above) and introductions with the existing family pets should be carefully supervised. At the first introduction there may be no immediate problems, and reinforcement of desirable responses may be all that is required.
Introducing the New Kitten to Your DogIf there is some mild anxiety on the part of your dog, the introductions will need to be controlled, gradual, supervised, and always positive. Begin by placing your new kitten in a carrier or on a leash and harness so that it will not provoke the dog or make the dog feel defensive. Using a leash to control your dog, use favored rewards and training commands to encourage your dog to sit or stay calmly in the presence of the kitten.
Dogs that are not well trained to settle on command may need their training reviewed and improved upon before introduction to any new pet. Alternatively, a leash and head halter may be used for more immediate control and safety. Calm investigation should then be encouraged and reinforced. Any initial anxiety on the part of the dog or kitten should soon decrease.
If the dog is prevented from rough play and chasing, the kitten should quickly learn its limits with the dog, including how to avoid confrontation by climbing or hiding. Initially it would be best to keep a dog and a kitten separated unless supervised by an adult. If there is still the possibility of aggression or injury after the cautious initial introductions, then a behavior consultation would be advisable.
Introducing the New Kitten to Your CatMost adult cats are fairly tolerant of kittens. Keeping the kitten in its own area and then allowing introductions when the cats are eating or playing should help to decrease any initial anxiety. A crate, or a leash and harness, can be used to control one or both of the cats during initial introductions. A synthetic cheek gland scent, either as a spray or diffuser, may also be useful for easing introductions. Most cats and kittens will soon work out a relationship on their own without injury. However, if there is a threat of aggression, a gradual introduction program will need to be followed.