I have a new kitten. Her name is Roxy. She is pretty awesome. My husband and I look at this sleek black cat and wonder — how are we going to screw you up?

It’s just a matter of time.

We are being thoughtful as we integrate Roxy into our lives. Here’s our process-driven list.

1. We created a home base for our new kitten. Roxy is currently sleeping in a spare bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. It’s roomy. She spends her days in a heated and carpeted room above the garage. If I’m home, I let her around the other cats for supervised play. We want her to sleep with us and play with the cats, but I’m in no rush. Kittens are spazzy. We want her to develop confidence while having a safe space to eat, sleep and chill out.

2. We are lavishing a ton of attention on our other cats. Jake is my first husband. Molly is the queen. Scrubby is a nerd. Emma is my baby. They were here first. I run a union shop based on tenure around here. Seniority matters.

3. We’re using good litter and teaching Roxy how to use a scratching post. I recommend Kitten Attract. And we have multiple scratchy surfaces — both vertical and horizontal — in her suite. Roxy is developing her core competencies, right now, and I don’t want to mess this up!

4. We are washing our hands like crazy. Roxy came to us pretty healthy; however, cats are sensitive to smell, and I don’t want to snorgle Emma and drive her crazy with Roxy’s scent or germs. It’s just good hygiene, too.

5. Site-swapping works. For a few hours each day, I’m letting Roxy into the room over the garage where the kitty crew plays. I put a litter box in there, and she has a new place to play. I’m letting our older crew smell her bedroom, too. Slowly but surely, they’ll get to know one another’s smells without freaking out. And I get a few hours to shower, clean up Roxy’s bedroom, etc.

Finally, I’m not rushing things. Roxy will live with us forever. Integrating a new cat is a delicate process. If it takes a few weeks to earn her place among the rank and file Ruettimann kitties, it’s worth it. Plus she’ll gain some weight and confidence in the process.

I want her to be in a good weight class when she does tuff roughs with Scrubby.

Wish us luck!


  1. With the most recent cat introduction at the Kugler Base Camp, we tried nearly a month to introduce them slowly and they still hissed and spat at one another for the first week. We tried everything, rubbing scent socks on one another and letting them play with them, swapping rooms, playing underneath the door, EVERYTHING! I just think my cats are misanthropes.

    That being said, Roxy looks like a sweet little kitten, and I’m sure she’s going to be tough and stand up for herself with the other Ruettimann kitties. I wish you all the best in this endeavor!

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