kitten

Kyle and I went on our first date in March 2001. We were both in college in Oklahoma and had made plans to hang out during Spring Break. He was staying with his parents in Tulsa so I drove down for the day. It was a perfect first date – the kind that ends up lasting the entire day but at the same time goes by way too fast. One memory I’ll never forget is when Kyle took me to meet his parents at their house. They weren’t home yet when we arrived, so he instead toured me around and personally introduced me to each of the 3-4 cats that were living there at the time. As I soon learned, he’s always had a soft spots in his heart for cats – an affection that apparently goes back to his toddler years: 

Adorable, right? Anyhow, Kyle has always wanted to have a cat of his own but we never lived in feline-friendly housing until we bought our own home. At the time though, it didn’t make sense to get a cat with a serious fixer-upper and golden retriever puppy to contend with. So the idea went on hold.

Ok, truth be told, I’m not a huge cat person. I like them fine and had a few great cats growing up, but I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’re going to get a cat, why not just get another dog? I know, that doesn’t make any sense.

Anyhow, I figured that someday the right opportunity would present itself and we would finally own a cat. So last week, when my friend Jenny sent out an e-mail looking for someone to adopt an abandoned kitten, I forwarded it on to Kyle with the disclaimer:

“I might regret this…”

Jenny brought the kitty over Thursday night for a trial run to see how she and Bailey would get along. We weren’t really worried about Bailey being aggressive with the kitten, but that the kitten would be aggressive towards Bailey. And that’s more or less what happened. For the first day or so, she’d let out a soft hiss anytime he got within a 3′ radius. Dumbfounded, Bailey kept his distance, tail wagging the whole time. I can’t say I blame her though, Bailey must come across as some type of urban lion and hissing is about the only defensive action she’s got.

After a few days together and some forced bonding time, the two are getting along a little better. There’s definitely less hissing, but they’re not exactly spooning or playing fetch with each other.

We haven’t completely made up on our minds yet. We still have a few concerns about the long-term relationship between cat and dog as well as the long-term relationship between cat and furniture.

Anyone have experience introducing a new kitten to a large dog? Is there any type of cat psychology that will help us tell her that even though he’s at least 20x her size, he’s completely harmless? We really want them to be BFF’s and it would crush us if Bailey was constantly being bullied. (I know, you’re probaby rolling your eyes, but this is Bailey. And I’ve known some snarky cats.)

Also – cat training? We have serious apprehension about our furniture, wood surfaces, etc. Any tried and true methods for keeping cats off of these things? (We’ve been squirting her with water which seems to sort of work.)

But she’s super cute right? I’ll even admit to that.

Comments

50 Responses to “kitten”

  1. Dawn Moore says:

    Trust me. They’ll figure it out. And yes, Bailey may be cuckolded at first, but he’ll find his way. She’s a KITTEN and figuring it all out – what do you expect?? I love the “forced bonding” moment! Adorable!!!

  2. Nicolen says:

    An interspecies household is the source of all happiness! Stick with it, give them time, let them sniff each other. As for damage to furniture, make a soda can filled with pennies or rocks to shake at her when she does a bad thing. The sound will scare every living thing in the house, your significant other included. Good luck!

  3. MildlyCrafty says:

    – Cats are awesome!

    – You just have to yell REALLY LOUD and wave your arms about whenever the cat does something you don’t like, eg get on the table, use the furniture as a scratching post, chew your powercords, etc, etc, you’ll look like a crazy lady but they very quickly learn what not to do.

    – the major trouble we had with our cat when he was a kitten was that he was incredibly hyperactive and the dog would chase him around and around the house and on each lap he’d run up and along the back of the leather couch and gouged holes in it 🙁 He doesn’t get on the couch at all now though (must’ve been all that yelling I did!). So I don’t recommend kittens and leather couches if it can be avoided.

    – Our cat and dog get along like a house on fire and when I was a kid we always had cats and dogs and they all got along fine. I think because you’ve got a kitten and she’ll grow up with Bailey it’s unlikely she’ll bully him, that’s more likely to happen if you introduced a fully grown cat I’d expect.

    • chezerbey says:

      Thanks Amy! I have yelled a few times – the only problem is that Bailey thinks it’s directed towards him and cowers in the bedroom!

  4. Lauren says:

    Tips! I have 3 cats and also manage cat only vet clinic…

    1. “forced bonding” – you need to be very careful here. Some cats get traumatized very easily and never forget. Trust me, she’s probably already pretty stressed out with the change of scenery. It will happen, just give it some time.

    2. furniture – is your goal to just keep her off? That will be very, very difficult. If your goal is for her not to scratch, then you’ll need to make the adjustment to your home to accommodate her. None of my cats have ever scratched. The key is to find something she should be scratching and redirect. For example, keep a scratching post near the furniture, and if you ever see her scratching then redirect her. Squirting with water will help some, but really isn’t fair because it’s a natural need. Make sure that you find the right kind of scratcher. If she begins with furniture or ignores the scratcher switch kinds – rope, carpet, cardboard as well as vertical or horizontal. You just need to spend a little time finding what she likes and be patient and then she will never touch your furniture. The other side of this is that you need to begin clipping her claws RIGHT NOW. Do it once every few weeks. If you get her used to it now it will never be a problem. Pick up a good pair of guillotine clippers from the pet store. Just do it in a well lit room, have Kyle hold her and you can do one claw at a time. Gently push out the claws and you can see where the quick is so you don’t cut it. If she gets used to it now you will never have a problem. As she is abandoned, she may not know how to keep her claws cared for. This could lead to accidental snagging which could hurt her as much as your furniture. If you keep her claws clipped regularly she will rarely feel the need to scratch. Oh, and you can also add catnip to the designated scratcher.

    3. vertical space – give her plenty of space… an awesome cat tree would be great, and a great project for Kyle! perhaps a cat ladder or shelves just for her, she needs places where she can escape from Bailey and feel comfortable. This is essential to her adjustment. If you are squirting her with water when she gets on the furniture, she probably has no place she feels she can comfortably escape from him if she needs to.

    4. Just be patient, she will need extra love since she doesn’t have a mama around to teach her what she needs to know.

    • Dusa says:

      As an owner of 6 kittehs (yes, I’m that woman) and a former vet assistant, I agree completely with Lauren. Bailey and the kitten will be best buds eventually, and the kitten will rule, mark my words. LOL!

    • chezerbey says:

      Thanks for all of the great tips Lauren! We’ve been careful to introduce them slowly together and only bring the cat super close to Bailey during moments when he’s totally chill (like in the photos). Our main concern is keeping her off the kitchen counters and tables but everything else is more about keeping her from scratching. We definitely plan to clip her nails (or maybe try to the soft paws!). I have a feeling that once she’s big enough, the cat will *love* the loft and loft ladder. Maybe it can serve as a giant cat tree!

  5. Amy says:

    If they’re tolerating each other this well so early (even if it’s just for some photo moments), that’s great. I brought a kitten into the mix a couple of years after I adopted my dog (a doberman). There was some initial adjustment (his excitement, her hissing), but now they get along fine. The only excitement is when she nips at his ankles/neck/ears (she’s the mischievous type), but big dogs are good at ignoring that kind of thing.

  6. knirkus says:

    Oh, thats an adorable kitty. Your dog too by the way 🙂
    You should just give them time. They’ll end up best friends.
    We’ve just been through 3 intensive weeks of kitty/labrador bonding, and there is still some rare hissing, but so much more talehunting and purring.

    And kitty vs. furniture?
    Just add some lemonjuice in the water then the squirting the kitty will work as a charm, just make sure the kitty has some special place to put it’s claws.

  7. For saving furniture, I cannot recommend the softpaw claw caps enough. (http://softpaws.com) I thought they were going to be a pain to get on or maintain, and I now I can’t believe I went so long without using them.

    My cat almost always sits in my lap when I’m at the computer, so I keep the caps in a desk drawer and every couple of weeks when one or two fall off replace them. It takes like 90 seconds, and they protect carpet, furniture, drapes… everything.

    • AM says:

      I’m going to double the softpaws endorsement. Those combined with a corrugated cardboard scratching post keep my kitty happy. The softpaws are great because they are really easy to put on for both kitty and human, and they still allow kitty to get proper stretching and exercise for important back muscles. And all without furniture damage or kitty being unhappy or uncomfortable.

    • chezerbey says:

      I think we might give this a try…good thing she’s a girl. =)

  8. Cait says:

    I have no cat wisdom (I’m allergic, and pretty much a dog person anyway, so I can totally relate to “if you’re going to get a cat, why not just get another dog?”), but she seems cute! Hope they’re getting along for more than just these photos!

  9. Britten says:

    I was apprehensive about how my 125 lb malamute would get along with a 2 lb kitten. The dog was slightly curious but mostly indifferent to the new household addition. The kitten needed a few weeks to adjust, She preferred to wait for him to fall asleep to sniff him and figure out what he was. Two years later he’s still indifferent but she loves him, followings him all over the house and sleeps next to him whenever she gets the chance. Just give your kitty time and she will adjust to Bailey.

  10. Karen says:

    We just introduced a kitten to our big German Shepherd/Husky X. The dog was enthusiastic from the start but kitty was a wee bit apprehensive. We kept kitty sequestered when we couldn’t be around to supervise – he was in a room with a closed door and then a baby gate closing off the hallway. We didn’t want doggy to be bothering kitty when we weren’t there.

    It didn’t take long but pretty soon kitty was running up to the dog and batting his tail, saying “the chase is on” and they wrestle. Big time wrestling that has gotten more active and rougher as the cat has gotten older. If kitty is bored, he’ll just go up to the sleeping dog, put his head in his mouth or grab hold of an ear, lip etc.. to instigate a wrestle. Just make sure that kitty has plenty of hidy-holes and escape routes.

    Also, they sleep together. There have been plenty of mornings when I’ve gone to let the dog out of his crate and the kitty has come out too, having been un-noticed the night before at bedtime so he got locked in too.

    As for scratching, we have done just as Lauren suggested and we’ve had two cats with no scratching issues at all. We also keep the claws short so that helps. My sister uses softpaws on her cat and swears by them. It looks pretty cute to have a cat with pink nails!

  11. Carly says:

    I have 4 cats, a dog and a rabbit… here’s all the advice i can offer to you 🙂
    1. you will never be able to keep her off of the surfaces. anywhere cat’s can get to, they will. however, it’s nothing to worry about- with four cats walking all over the place, we have no problem with scratch marks (retractable claws remember!) and the only inconvenience is in winter when they moult (however, nop problem if you buy a sticky lint roller)
    2. although my dog’s quite small, they treat her as more of a slight annoyance than anything serious. i have a few friends who’s cats have a great relationship with the dog, but if they’re never (as you so wonderfully put it) spooning, i wouldn’t worry. although, because your kitten’s so young, i’m sure she’ll learn to love bailey!
    in case you’re wondering, the bunny chases my cats around the house. it’s great to watch 😉
    hope i could help x

  12. dcgm says:

    Took about 2 months for the stray kitten we adopted to fall completely in love with our 40 lb adult dog. But you’re off to a much better start that we were — took about 3 weeks before she’d allow the dog as close as your critters are in the photos. Once she grew a little and understood that the dog was just a big goofy ball of fur, with no malice, she fell in love. It does take time — and space. Make sure the cat has a “cave” (box or furniture of some sort) she can hide in to safely avoid the dog, when she’s had enough. (Now we have the opposite problem as our doggie past away and we recent bought 2 puppies into our home. That same kitten, now an adult cat, has a lot of trepidation about the pups, but she’s an indoor/outdoor cat and can avoid them as she pleases. Given her love for our first dog, we remain optimistic that these guys will all work it out… perhaps before it starts to snow?)

    As to furniture — water (kid’s toy water guns work well), noise are great, but I also found tape — sticky side out — works well. If you wrap some packing tape around the furniture (not the whole piece, but a band or two around the bottom and at the arms/back), sticky side out, it ruins the pleasurable sensation she gets from scratching. It doesn’t take too long as the cat gets impatient pretty quickly — so your home won’t look plastic furniture covered for long! A friend said you can get similar results with that plastic wrap which movers use when packing – the stuff that is sort of like Saran wrap and binds to itself without any sticky adhesive. Hope this helps

  13. You’ve gotten some great advice already! Definitely start clipping the claws early on and get a good scratcher (they are all hideous, but it’s easy to make one!).

    I was stumped for a long time about how to keep my kitty off the kitchen counters. We would shoo her off and spray her with compressed air or one of those air-squirter-bulbs used for cleaning camera equipment, which worked fine when we were around, but as soon as I’d leave, she would jump up there again. I finally discovered the SSSCat, which is an air canister with a motion sensor. We set that near the spot where she liked to jump up, and it worked! (You can get one for about $30 on Amazon.) It also works brilliantly for scaring humans, too. 😉

  14. John Meyer says:

    You might have to try a few different kinds of scratching posts/things to find one she likes. What I didn’t see mentioned, though, was positive reinforcement. When she first scratches whatever post/pad/device you end up getting, reward her with a treat as well as petting and praise. Eventually you can phase that out and it’s likely she won’t scratch anything else.

    We had good luck with this post: http://www.superpetstuff.com/superpetstuff/ultimate-cat-scratching-post-3832-ff808181207a31c00120c2333bbc47a9-p.html

  15. Oh, I would LOVE to see you build a gorgeous, modern, design-y cat tree. Then I could stare at it and be jealous. 🙂 As for scratching, my 20-month old kitty doesn’t scratch my couch much because I made sure to get her a scratch post that was a) sisal (feels better on their claws than carpet) and b) taller than her. That second point is key: cats feel good when they can streeeetch up as well as scratch. This is what I use: http://bit.ly/oIZ6MO And for good measure, I made tailored sofa arm covers in the same fabric as my couch, so they look invisible but protect the couch while she learned what not to scratch. Another tip: lay out some tinfoil over anything you don’t want her to sit on (e.g. back of the couch). Cats don’t like the sound/feel of tinfoil, and if you prevent her from getting used to a spot or piece of furniture, it may not be as appealing later when you take the foil off.
    Good luck!

  16. Leslie says:

    We just brought home a kitten to a big, mellow dog and I can assure you that they will be just fine. Kittens and cats take a while to warm up, but they will learn quickly that Bailey is not a threat and will soon be trying to play with him. I have always loved having a dog and a cat together- I think that they really enjoy having each other around and are really sweet with each other. Enjoy!

  17. Leslie says:

    Oh, and there is definitely a market for an aesthetically pleasing cat scratching post! If you build it we will come!

    • Kyle Z says:

      I’m on it 😉 also thinking about an aethetcially pleasing kitty litter box that is hidden into a piece of furniture like a side table or something similar. I have a feeling kitty is going to love the loft ladder and loft when she gets bigger.

      • Saffy says:

        There is some really cool cat furniture out there already (and it’s awesome!)
        http://www.etsy.com/people/modernistcat

        Btw – I’m a catsitter and unfortunately all of the kitties that I know religiously devote all of their free time to chewing off their soft paws. It may work for some kitties but not all.

        Praise and reinforcing good behavior has always worked for my kitties, but we also don’t have too many rules – good scratching, no harassing the older kitties, and stay away from the stove (dangerous!). At a certain point, you just have to pick your battles.

  18. No advice. But those pictures are great 🙂

  19. gingo says:

    awhhh!! They’ll work it out! She is so cute! I can’t wait to meet her! xxoo
    Aunt G

  20. Lisa Zerbey says:

    I can tell They are going to be good friends! All they need is time.

  21. LauraC says:

    Could you have a cuter post? Um, no.

  22. Jenny says:

    Oh hooray for all of the of the kind words and encouragement for sticking it out with Bailey and kitten! She has come so far since Thursday! I can only imagine things will continue to improve. I hope you guys have gotten to take some kitten-only breaks and see her sweetness shine through. I wonder if she will ever grow into those ears?! I just hope it continues to work out – I couldn’t of hand picked a better home for “other kitten”! So cute.

    • chezerbey says:

      She already crawls in my lap when I’m on the computer. It’s pretty stinkin’ cute. Now we just need to come up with a name!

  23. Jenny says:

    Oh, and clean modern cat accessories could be your gold mine. Just sayin’.

  24. Shannon says:

    the mud bay on 1st and lenora has some cool modern scratchers that are $$$ but may be good inspiration for you DIYers. There are modern litter boxes out there also but again super spendy. If you start a cool cat accessories line, I’m in.

  25. http://www.moderncat.net/ has some really nice ideas for litter boxes, cat trees and scratching posts.

  26. Little Edie says:

    We place hundreds of rescued golden retrievers a year in homes and the question of cats comes up all the time. Our organization’s observation is that it is often the cat making the calls – and that a dog may be cat friendly with one cat and chase another. Time and patience always works where the family will trust in it.

    The kitten should be given all the space and time it needs to become comfortable with Bailey. Do slow intros. You have a huge advantage in that you have a young kitten that can easily be molded. Some of my fondest memories are of seeing my Golden, Tucker, and his tortoise tabby kitties, Fargo and Moorhead, all curled up together like peas in a pod. That did not happen instantly – Moorhead ran away for a week when Tucker first arrived – but in time they were completely bonded.

    You will be totally in love soon! Good luck with kitty.

  27. Oksana G says:

    I am both dog and cat lover, BUT I am also a realist and a young(ish) wife and work-at-home mom of 2.5-year old person now.

    CONSIDER and RECONSIDER this one very well IF you have any baby plans in the foreseen future at all. Because it becomes absolutely an extra unnecessary chore on top of all the other tone of things to do.

    There was a period in my life when I was craving to bring more kittens into mine and my former boyfriend’s condo. For me.. it was never about a KITTENS and always about the BABY. I understood it the hard way few years later, already married to the love of my life and with toddler, AND stuck with 2 cats on top of my already adult dog in the house. I had to give one easy to care for cat to my parents and another (VERY hard to care for) cat to someone else.

    Cats are NOT the same as dogs (like labs) around kids. Most cats will not tolerate abuse of little explorer and WILL hurt baby either with claus or they will bite! Cats are VERY different in the amount of care they ask for and their character. And they WILL add more on your list of things to take care of in a given day (aka: CLEANING MORE!).

    Again, it only applies if you are planning expending your family in a near future – I would absolutely recommend you against getting a cat…

    Very cute pics though! :o)

    • Lauren says:

      Sorry, but your experience is yours. I have a multitude of friends with cats who have no problem at all caring for kids and cats both. You make a commitment to care for an animal and that stands kids or no. It isn’t the animal that makes the burden heavier, it’s the child.

      There are many, many people who would disagree with your statement regarding cats being more work than dogs!

    • Lauren says:

      and one more thing: no baby should be left alone with any animal. Any animal, cat or dog, will react to mistreatment (purposeful or no) from a baby. If your baby doesn’t know how to act around an animal they should never be left vulnerable- cat or dog. That’s just bad parenting.

  28. Kyle Z says:

    UPDATE ON KITTEN! just took her to the vet and it turns out the she is actually a HE! so I can name her duCATi after all. still thinking about other boy names though;)

  29. Jenny says:

    Hahaha! Soooo funny! Hope HE got a clean bill of health otherwise. I’m having a tough time coming up with anything better than duCATi to be honest.

    • Kyle Z says:

      Jenny, we’re keeping him! Ducati will be his middle name. Right now I’m leaning toward Felix for his first name, after my late granpa Felix, also felix is just an awesome name for a cat right? Thanks for your patience. Kitten was trying to nurse on Bailey this morning;) then they just commenced to nuzzling, that was fast.

  30. Jenny says:

    Such great news! Hooray! Felix Ducati Zerbey. I like the sound of it. I’m so happy that he and Bailey have officially become friends. It just warms my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better home for him. What a lucky kitten. Thank you for rescuing him!

  31. brandy says:

    Congrats! You guys already have a lot of good advice. I’d just like to add that I’ve retrained 2 yr old “second-hand” cats to use a scratching post and not the couch, it can be done. I completely agree that you need to find the scratcher that fits the cat, I’ve had cats that only use vertical scratching posts, especially when they’re full grown, as it’s hard for them to fit on many of the floor scratchers.

    Positive reinforcement is huge too, catnip and treats are only given on the scratcher. We clip nails, while crooning and saying good boy, then he runs to his post for treats. Our cats will run to their post when we come home, scratch, watch us and wait to be loved on. Organic catnip is preferred by our boys, I can smell a difference too, and Whole Foods has little fish shaped treats in their pet section that are a hit with our cats.

    I saw someone mentioned tape, and I do have something new to add, Carpet Tape, it is AWESOME. Duct brand has some repositionable ones that shouldn’t hurt your couch (test 1st of course). When we get a new cat I put the double-sided carpet tape on the corners of the couch, top of arm rests etc, keeps them off, stays on way longer than packing tape.

    Kyle, It’s also great to have carpet tape around for parts hold down if you want to use your router for template cutting.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    In my experience, the small scratching posts that sit on the floor are a waste of time and money. One good pull and they’ll fall over on the cat, and that’s it.

    I think one reason cats scratch on furniture (aside from marking their territory with the scratches, which I don’t think I saw mentioned) is that furniture is generally sturdy enough to let the cat really get a good stretch and scratch. I highly recommend a floor-to-ceiling scratching post/cat tree with places for the cat to climb, sit, nap and scratch.

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