As I mentioned, there are few things to watch out for as far as negative reactions, both from kittens, pets, and kids. Let’s take a look at each of them and what to do about it:
Your kitten is in charge of determining how fast or slow the introductions and explorations happen, and you need to make sure that you remember the importance of the kitten leading the way. Common signs of fear (for example, if you push him too fast) are:
- Running and hiding
- Fur going up on his back
- Growling, hissing, swatting or spitting
- Not eating/drinking
Scrambling to get out of your arms and hurry back into the room (assuming you force him out of the room by picking him up) If you see these kinds of behaviors, you need to back up a few steps, calm him down by leaving him alone or soothing him with just you being in the room with him, and remember that he’s a baby and needs to be given time to adjust to all of this huge changes.
Be patient with him and remember that it won’t be like this forever, he just needs space and time to understand how everything is changing. Stay on each step/stage until he stops all of these behaviors. Some kittens won’t ever show these signs, and some will show them on every stage. Be respectful of your kitten, he’s a person – er, cat – too!
Your kids often are going to be the hardest people to “train” in terms of behaving properly around your kitten because it’s soft and cute and they just want to pick it up and hug it tightly. Warning signs to watch for specifically for your children in terms of correcting their behavior would be:
- Chasing the kitten around
- Throwing things at him
- Trapping him in a corner/box/bag
- Picking him up by his feet/tail/neck
- Screaming at him
A lot of these things are normal in kids as far as their understanding, but you must remember that a kitten is a living being, too. If he feels he is being threatened, he will run in fear and hide (meaning a poor quality of life for your kitten), or he may even turn into “defense mode” and attack or go after your child.
It’s important to closely monitor for these kinds of behaviors for your kitten and child’s safety.
Both other cats and family dogs can have adverse reactions to a kitten joining the household, mostly around the idea of territory and jealousy. This is why getting the professional opinion of a vet and/or an animal behavior expert is so critical to making sure that your family will be inviting and safe for a kitten to join you.
As far as other cats go, here are some potentially dangerous signs to watch out for when you are working on socializing them properly:
- Growling or hissing
- Swatting or attacking
- Stalking the kitten
- Obsessively watching the kitten
- Stealing the kitten’s food
As I mentioned before, it’s normal for some negative “temper tantrum” behavior to occur while they get used to each other, but it’s really important to watch for this behavior in your adult/other cat because it means that they are looking to potentially injure your kitten, and you need to take action accordingly.
Separate them for a period of time and then try it again until this behavior stops. When it comes to dogs, there are similar behaviors that you need to be careful with and watch for as well, some of which can be harder to spot in a dog, and can often last longer in terms of adjusting to the kitten being around and his curious nature:
- Being protective of food
- Stealing the kitten’s food
- Pawing at the kitten
- Growling/snarling/barking at him
- Getting protective of his “master” (favorite human)
These are serious signs that the kitten is being a little too eager, and you need to try slowing things down and introducing them again a little slower.
Never leave a kitten alone with a dog – even if he doesn’t show these signs – until the kitten has grown up to a full size and can defend himself.