Saturday, January 18, 2014

Advice On Introducing A Kitten To Our Rambunctious Pooch?

The sky is gray, and the clouds threaten more snow with their swiftly moving swirl pressing down on the world below.  We had a beautiful snowfall last night, with flakes the size of golf balls coming down at one point while I was standing on our front porch with the pooch during a yard visit.

It was a bit on the warmer side, though, yesterday, and the accumulation is on the spare side of an inch, if that.

The birds have swamped our large feeder outside the sun room, and the two smaller mesh hoppers on either side are really earning their name this morning as well.  It is a seedy, feeding frenzy.

It is good to be inside and snug.  This morning, I am especially grateful that we brought the new kitty inside, for it has warmed up to 13 degrees at this point, and it would have been a wretched night outside.

Instead, "Sheldon" (his name at the moment and likely to stay that way -- guess which girlie is a Big Bang Theory fan?) got to snuggle on top of The Peanut's bed, nestled and sleeping on her cozy blankets and come up to chirrup for scratches periodically in the night.

It is love at first sight for the both of them, and we couldn't be more thrilled. 

Everyone but Roxie, our westie, that is.

We are taking their introduction slowly.  At times, Roxie seems like she's accepted Sheldon, giving little licks through the kennel when we put them together.  Sheldon has been in the kennel around Roxie for his protection, and that way Roxie gets the run of the downstairs while still having Sheldon's scent be part of her day to day.  They are beginning to be more and more used to each other, and while Sheldon ignores her for the most part, Roxie is seriously curious and gets agitated and growly on occasion, wanting this new furry "thing" to play with and snuffle.

We put up a baby gate on the stairs and have allowed Sheldon free range up there.

Because the pooch can't get over the gate, it's a safe haven for him to stretch his legs.  So far, that is working out well, but we know that eventually they will be in the same space at the same time and that needs to work. Safely.

This weekend we are going to start face to face interaction, with Roxie on a leash inside for a while (held by me or Mr. ReddHedd, since she's submissive with both of us) in case Sheldon needs an immediate escape.  We think that is the safest way forward for Sheldon's sake.  Please, please, please let it go well:  that's where I am at the moment.

Terriers have a vise-like bite at the neck and hard shake that is bred into them for handling prey (usually stoats, weasels and other things that make unwanted holes in sheep fields in Scotland, back in the day, for westies).  It is instinctive and not something I want to take a chance with for a smallish kitten.  We have seen Roxie do this with squeaky toys quite a bit, so we know her hunting instincts are in there somewhere. 

This would have been easier had we had the kitty first, and then introduced the pooch as a puppy, but you don't get the chance to order your life the way it is easiest, now do you?

Roxie is up on my lap as I type this, nuzzling at my fingers and keyboard, trying to get my attention away from the computer and onto her.  She's getting extra love from me to try to compensate for her worry over the new furry thing in our midst.  I so hope that this works out well -- if we can just keep Sheldon safe and sound and Roxie happy until the kitty gets big enough to fend for himself, we will be in good shape.  If we can get Roxie to accept him as part of the pack and family, then we'll be over the moon.

I'd just like to avoid a demonstration of Wild Kingdom if we possibly can.

We initially had Sheldon's food and water with him in the kennel, but Roxie got agitated every time he ate or drank because she couldn't get to the food through the kennel.  We've moved the food and water upstairs and out of her sight as a result, and things seem a bit calmer.  I didn't want Roxie associating that food jealousy with the kitty, so we'll see if that changes the overall mood.  So far, so good.

If folks have gone through this with their own pet introductions and have some advice, I would love it.  Especially if there is something that you did to make things work well.

The photo above was taken by me while we were on the Wanyama Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.  We were so close to this fellow, that you can see the leaves on his muzzle from where he was munching at the tree and feeding station as we were driving by him.  It was a magical experience, and one that I would do again in a heartbeat.  It is so cold here this morning, and this picture was a nice reminder of the warmth and fun of our recent vacation.  Thought you all would enjoy the picture -- the look in his eyes as he was curiously observing us in the safari jeep, driving by and curiously observing him -- it was amazing to have that kind of close-up connection opportunity. 

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