Bringing home new animals can be stressful to all parties involved. Pre-planning makes life easier for everybody.
If you don’t have any other animals, new kitties are easier, but still take your time getting them use to the household. I suggest you start with the carrier/bed in one small room for the first couple of weeks until you make sure the kitty is happily eating, drinking, playing and using its litter box correctly.
When you have other animals, it’s crucial to introduce a new kitty slowly and carefully. I suggest you put it in its own room in the house/apartment with its own food bowl and water dish placed far from its litter box. Make sure it likes the litter that you have chosen and is using the litter box correctly before any changes are made. Be sure to clean out the litter box daily and replace all litter once weekly in this crucial stage.
Feliway is a product made from “happy kitty” pheromones that has shown some success in reducing anxiety in cats and can be used as a spray or diffuser in areas in the house. Use it in the kitty’s new room and the whole house when introducing to the other pets.
I recommend leaving the kitty in its own room for 2 weeks while allowing the other pets in the household to sniff that area under the door and to get used to the idea of a new pet. You can take the kitten into your own bedroom for periods of time or into other rooms with you but only when the other animals are not present.
Meanwhile be sure to create areas that all pets will be able to retreat to on their own should they need them upon introduction. You can make these areas from things as simple as cardboard boxes to elaborate cat scratchers with different levels, baby fenced off areas, to custom made cat houses or shelves placed along the walls for kitties to jump up on. When you are with the new kitty alone in the house during the first two weeks, let it become familiar with these “hide outs” so it can use them when needed.
After two weeks of all animals getting used to the smells of the new kitty, you can allow the kitty into the living room or common area with one animal at a time in supervised visits. Have dogs on leash and under control. Be sure the new kitty has access to an area high enough to get away. Hissing is normal with first contact as is lots of sniffing and posturing. Yowling, growling or overt aggression such as an attack is not normal and both parties should be separated at once and you need to start the process over. Start with a few minutes and if things are going well allow an hour of introduction time, then back to their “safe zones”. Slowly increase time together if all goes well.
Happily Ever After
Reward good behavior on all animals parts with treats and play. Interactive play helps keep them distracted and focused on something besides each other.