Sunday, June 23, 2013

So Your New UT Tyler College Room-mate has a Pet?

(Also, you have a pet.)

Last week our communications team-mate, Carver, offered great advice on the responsibilities behind owning a pet while going to college. This month I have endured a similar yet very different experience- introducing an existing pet with a new, younger pet.

*Please note that if you want to own a pet, you must be living in one of the campus apartments. No mammals, reptilians, crustaceans or ichthyoids are allowed in the dorms. Sorry, fish enthusiasts.

No Ichthyoids allowed

This story began last month. As soon as summer hit, I had an insatiable desire to get a kitten. And how does one quench the urge to adopt an adorable kitten? Well, for me it was simply to adopt a kitten. I’m not particularly patient, so naturally, there were a couple issues upon bringing my new bundle of fluff home that I hadn’t really given much thought. Namely, I hadn’t thought about the more established canine member of my and my girlfriend’s apartment: her miniature dachshund, Diesel.

Burnadette: fluffiness and cat-stealth
Deisel: spirited lap dog, barks a lot


Needless to say, having two pets (of different species, what!) was definitely awkward at times. Deisel didn't like having a new animal absorbing love in the apartment, and because he got really excited around the kitten, we had to separate them for several weeks, which wasn't fun for anyone. Knowing now what I should have known then, I can offer the following advice: ie, you have to keep reading to get the advice. *wink

  1. Old habits can become worsened.  Adding a pet can cause your pets to exhibit nervous habits due to stress from new animal. On our end, Diesel often engaged in vengeance poops in certain areas of the house (say, the floor by my side of the bed) in rebellion to the new kitten.
  2.  Establish “fellow pet” status immediately.  If the pre-existing pet is older and larger than the new pet, it could consider the new pet a toy, something to play with and chew on. If the older pet shows extreme excitement instead of curiosity or playfulness around the new pet, slow the introduction until the older pet is more comfortable and relaxed in the presence of the newbie.
  3.  Know the boundaries.  The younger pet may not know the boundaries of the older animal yet. Items like food and special toys that the older pet associates as their own need to be removed whenever they are both in the same room to avoid territory issues with the pets.
  4.  Plan for separation.  The pets cannot be left alone together for at least a week unless they become quick friends. Prepare for methods of separation that allows both to have food, water, litter box, toys, bedding, etc. I found that an infant gate was perfect for my situation.
  5.  Choose a calm week to introduce.  Try not to add a new pet during the most stressful part of your work month or semester- dogs and cats can pick up on stress cues that you emit very easily, and they will associate it with the new addition. Plus, the more time you can spend supervising the two animals together, the sooner they will adapt to one another.

The most important aspect to consider when you are thinking about getting a pet would definitely be whether or not the new member will be safe in your house. With these little tips, which I learned from friends and with just plain experience (and plenty of patience), we now have three adorable pet-habitants to our home! Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention we have a pet hermit crab with a batman shell named Bruce. He's molting, though.

Now if this doesn't make you want to watch
Milo and Otis, I don't know what will.

P.S.   I don’t care what any skeptics say about Cesar Millan, that guy has some great advice on ANYTHING animal related. His technique is all about exuding good energy and being the Alpha animal of the house. And who wouldn't want to be the Alpha animal? Exactly. 

P.S.S   You know what smooths over the fact that both of your animals are slightly angry that they have to deal with another animal? Pet treats and toys, duh. I've found that treats and toys buffer most sore feelings between your pets and you. So be generous, and they will love you forever. 

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