Your Complete Guide On How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat
Planning to get a new pet (particularly a kitten) because your resident cat looks lonely and might need some company?
Unfortunately, the introduction process is not as easy peasy as you might think. Putting two cats, who are strangers to one another, in one room and forcing them to interact won’t work and will only worsen the situation.
If you haven’t noticed it yet, cats love doing things their way. Given cats’ territorial nature and my-way-or-the-highway attitude, conflict is sure to arise whenever something new (like a new cat) threatens to disrupt their day-to-day routine.
Thankfully, there’s a way around it. Feline Living is here to give you what you need – a few tried-and-tested tips on how to introduce a kitten to a cat.
But first, let’s talk about you and your cat. Are you both ready for a new companion?
Are You and Your Cat Ready For A New Friend?
Cats are loveable companions, and they can certainly take stress away. However, just like all pets (and humans too!), they need plenty of attention and care. So before everything else, here are some questions to ask yourself.
1. Do I have time for another cat?
2. Do I really want another one or am I just getting one for my cat?
3. Does my cat really need a companion?
If you answered no to any of these things, now may not be the time to get a new furball. And that’s fine. Your bored cat can get his or her entertainment from a lot of other sources, such as toys, a room with a view (give him a cat window seat, they’re great!), or take him with you on a daily walk.
But if you answered yes to everything and you’re sure that another kitty is the way to go, then congratulations on being a kitty parent for the second time around!
Some Need-To-Know Stuff Before Getting A New Fur Friend
Selecting a cat to adopt needs careful consideration. You don’t want to just get any feline, no matter how cute they may be.
You already have a long-time companion, so choosing a new kitty friend means that you have to choose based on your pet’s personality and age.
Here are some things you need to consider when adopting another feline.
1. Your cat’s age. Younger cats are naturally active, so your cat’s age comes into play in the selection process. If your pet’s young and active, he will enjoy having a kitty of a similar age or younger.
But if your cat’s older, he will probably get annoyed by a highly active kitten running around ruining naps.
It may be that the kitten can get your senior cat to move around more, but in reality, the situation could also prove highly stressful for your aging companion.
2. Your cat’s temperament. Cats have a natural pecking order in any household. It wouldn’t be wise to pick a cat that will clash with your cat’s temperament and challenge his status in the hierarchy (if he’s a dominant).
If your pet is a dominant one, look for a kitten that’s a little shy. The shy kitten may help your pet take his boldness down a notch.
And if your cat’s the shy type, a little daring kitty can help give him a new and fascinating view of life and play.
Since cats tend to mimic each other, their different temperaments should balance each other out.
How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat
So now that you’ve got your heart set on adopting a new kitten and you’ve carefully selected one that looks like the perfect companion to your furry friend, it’s time to get ready for the meeting.
The New Kitten Is On The Way: How To Get Ready
Your kitten is on the way, and it’s an exciting time for you and your family. But this moment is also life-changing for both you, your household members, and especially your resident cat or cats. As such, preparing for the new cat’s arrival is crucial.
Welcoming a kitten to their new home is somewhat similar to awaiting the arrival of a new baby. It’s not only about setting up your cat’s space, but more importantly, you need to prepare your resident cat emotionally and physically.
Step 1: Set Up Your Kitten’s Space
Bringing a new cat into your resident’s territory can be seen as an act of war by your cat. As mentioned, cats are territorial, and they’ll find introducing a new cat in their territory a threat.
To avoid any unwanted friction, make sure to respect your resident cat’s territory and give your new kitten its own spot.
Ensure that each other’s areas are kept as safe spaces where they can eat, sleep, and roam freely without having the other feline intrude on it.
Your resident kitty should have the ability to go anywhere he used to be able to except for that one place you’ve designated for the new kitten.
It can be a spare bedroom, your study area, the bathroom, or any area in your house that your curious resident cat cannot easily access.
Now, borrowing your in-house feline’s stuff for the new one won’t do. Keep in mind that in the cat realm, scent matters a lot. So, if your new kitty smells the scent of another cat in her belongings, your new kitty might also feel uneasy.
To make your kitten feel more relaxed, apart from keeping your kitten in a separate room, it’s also best to prep up your new kitty’s room using things they’re already using or with brand new stuff.
Here’s a rundown of all the things that you must include in their space:
- Water and food bowls
- Litter box
- Bedding or blanket for the sleeping area
- Scratching post or cardboard scratchers
- Play toys
- A hiding place like a cardboard box or a dome tent
- Litter box
- Water and food bowl
Step 2: Fill The New Kitty’s Place With Scent Soakers
Now that you’ve set up a designated area for your new kitten, it’s imperative that you fill it up with ‘scent soakers.’
These are usually soft things that absorb a feline’s scent when they rub against it. For example, blankets and cat beds.
It’s absolutely important that your new kitten establishes a notable comfort level in his zone before the all-important introduction happens.
We’ll explain more about this below.
Step 3: Make Sure Your Resident Cat Is All Prepped Up
Learning to accept a new kitten ain’t easy (physically and emotionally) for older cats, especially if your resident cat is an “only child” at home. To prepare them, make sure to add these to your to-do list.
Set Up An Appointment With Your Vet
Before introducing the new cat, make sure to get your resident cat or cats checked by a local veterinarian. Your cat’s vaccinations must also be up-to-date.
This way, you won’t have to worry much about your adult cat getting fleas, parasites, and the like if your kitten has medical problems, or vice versa.
Keep Your Pet Cat Calm Using Synthetic Pheromones
Apart from making sure that your resident cat or cats are physically prepared, you ought to calm down your cats’ nerves as well. One way to do this is by using pheromone diffusers, wipes, or sprays.
You can try using it at least a week before the kitten’s arrival. Apply some in the new cat’s room as well as in the adult cats’ favorite areas.
Step 4: Get Your Kitten Checked By A Vet
Apart from ensuring that your in-residence pet or pets are in tip-top shape, you also need to ensure that your kitten is feeling good inside out.
As such, getting your kitty checked on the same day after picking her up and before going home is ideal.
Also Read: Best Litter for Kittens
7 Tips On How To Make Kitten-Cat Introductions More Positive
The new cat’s home, yay! You and your family members might feel thrilled, but your adult cat may feel just the opposite.
Yes, introductions can feel awkward and stressful for both the new and old cat, but you and your family can turn this negative situation into something more positive. How? Just follow these steps:
1. Understand Your Cat’s Behavior
Understanding your cats’ behavior is key to avoiding unnecessary conflicts. It will also tell you if it’s time to make the initial introductions or if it’s time for your cat to retreat.
Of course, each cat is unique and different, your cat may act differently than other cats. But despite their personality differences, they will exhibit actions that will tell you if your cat feels friendly and comfortable or frustrated.
Here are a couple of tell-tale signs:
Signs That Your Kitten Is Feeling Right At Home
- Eats, drinks, grooms, and poops in their litter box without problems
- Plays with toys
- Rubs their face on the walls and furniture
- Sleeps without inhibitions (with their tummy exposed)
- Rubs your legs and purrs when approached by you or a family member
Signs That Your Cat/Kitten is Under Stress
- Paws or scratches the doors or windows
- Paces or rears up at the door
- Tries to get your attention when you leave the room
- Loss of appetite
2. Allow Your Kitten To Adjust to Their Surroundings
Let your new kitten settle in first. He’ll be a bit anxious with the change of location, so it’s important you alleviate his anxieties and fears first. Do not attempt to introduce the two cats at this point or let them lay eyes on each other.
This may take some time – from days to even weeks. Hiding behavior is also expected. Just let him be. Sooner or later, your new feline will feel at ease.
If your cat shows signs of frustration, you might want to consider giving him more space – space that your adult cat can’t access.
Allocating time together for play and grooming can also help improve the owner-cat bond and alleviate your kitten’s stress.
Apart from giving the new kitten some loving, you must also ensure that all your other pet cats get the same attention. After all, rivalry does not only happen among siblings. The same goes for pet cats.
3. Introduce Each Other’s Scent
Remember the scent soakers we mentioned before? This is where they come in. You can begin the introduction process by swapping each other’s scents. Have your pets familiarize themselves with each other without meeting physically.
One way to do this is by placing one of your resident cat’s belongings (like their bedding, blanket, or toy) in the new cat’s room, and vice-versa.
Another way is by letting your older cat explore the newcomer’s room while the new cat is safely tucked away somewhere out of sight.
You can let the new cat explore the other parts of the house while the older cat gets a sniff or smell of the younger cat’s room.
This is for the existing cat to get accustomed to the new kitten's scent. Keep doing this for a few more times.
4. Feed Cats At The Same Time
Do away with free-feeding and begin scheduling feeding times so that your pet cats can eat at the same time. As such, it’s advised to stop free-feeding your pets a week before your new cat arrives.
Feedings, however, should first be done apart, at either side of a closed door or a gate covered with a blanket.
Bowls are then gradually moved closer to each other. What’s important is that the other cat can sense the presence and scent of the other.
But how is this related to the introduction process? Well, eating food is always a pleasant experience. If your cats sense the other every time they eat, they’ll soon associate the new cat with something positive.
Soon enough, you could “raise the curtain” or get rid of the blanket.
5. Allow Them To Meet Eye-To-Eye
After your cats get a sniff of each other’s bedding, your cats will get used to each other’s scent. If they seem comfortable with each other’s smell or scent, then it’s time to introduce your cat visually.
This can be done behind a carrier or with a screen door or gate between the two cats. You could also open the door slightly for them to see each other.
This way, they’re able to see eye to eye without making physical contact. Your cats may make hissing sounds and arch.
Watch because these are common signs of aggression, although your established cat may just be asserting his order in the cat hierarchy. If it looks serious, it may be time to hide each cat in their separate rooms.
6. Grant Supervised Physical Access
You can proceed to the subsequent introduction step once your cats feel entirely comfortable seeing each other with the barrier.
Begin by removing the barrier quietly. It’s best to do this during feeding or while the cats are playing. You can attempt to encourage play by bringing in their favorite toy or some treats.
At this point, you must watch out for signs of aggression. Pouncing and batting are normal during play. But once the arching and hissing and growling sounds start, start watching them very closely.
A little bit of hissing and some mild swatting may happen if your new kitty does something unfavorable that your resident cat does not like.
This is completely normal so try not to interfere. Your older cat may just be teaching the new cat its boundaries. But if your cat hurts the new kitten, abort playtime immediately. You can always try again another day.
If your cat interacts with each other positively, don’t forget to reward them with some treats, a little praise, and a lot of physical affection. These would encourage them to continue the positive behavior.
For worst-case scenarios where your old cat can’t stand the sight of the new one, it’s best to be prepared. Here are some ways you can minimize the fight.
- Control the space. Make sure you introduce the cats inside a small controlled space with no exits they can run out from. (It would be hard to chase after the two all over your house in case they start fighting.) Make sure you also do it in an area that doesn’t have a lot of hiding spaces where you can’t get at them.
- Have a sight blocker handy. A sight blocker is anything that can be used to hide one cat from the sight of another. It should be big enough to hide a cat completely from the sight of the other (and therefore stop the fight from happening).
Keep a towel or blanket nearby. In case one or both are determined to fight it out, tossing a blanket or towel on one of the two cats in fight mode is the best way to stop the fight. Scoop up one cat and remove him from the area immediately.
7. Allow Short, Unsupervised Play Time
Unsupervised playtime can be given as long as your cats are consistent in showing good behavior. The time spent together can be increased over time.
Also be wary about cat bullying. Know when to intervene so that your elder cat won't bully the new kitten.
The introduction process between your new kitten and older cat may not be stress-free. In fact, it just might require a truckload of patience (plus some treats). Parenting, after all, comes with responsibilities.
A common mistake when introducing cats is rushing the process. It’s frustrating when things won’t work out as soon as you hoped they would, but taking the time can make the road to friendship between your new kitten and your cat that much easier.
Don’t give up if their first few encounters are anything but positive. Cats can take time to get used to another cat.
And they’re known to change their minds, so even if it looks like your pet hates his new companion now, wait awhile. They just might be the best of friends later on.
Know, however, that whatever you’re doing (whether you’re putting them in separate rooms, giving them food simultaneously, or swapping scent), you’re doing it not just to help your feline friends learn to live in harmony together. You’re actually letting your furbabies know how much you love and care for them.
How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new kitten?
It takes most cats eight to 12 months to develop a friendship with a new cat. Although some cats certainly become close friends, others never do. Many cats who don't become buddies learn to avoid each other, but some cats fight when introduced and continue to do so until one of the cats must be re-homed.
Can I introduce my kitten to my cat straight away?
Once you feel your cat has become used to the kitten's presence, you can introduce them in the same room. Just be ready to referee any potential disputes. But most of the time, the resident cat will either hiss and stalk off or greet the kitten with a quick sniff and then just ignore its existence.
What do I do if my cat doesn't like my new kitten?
Gradually get closer to the door, but take it very slowly, monitor reactions, go back a step or two if your cat gets aroused, and so on. Eventually, the cat may begin to feel more comfortable in the presence of your new kitten, and start to accept the kitten as a new member of the household.
Where should my new kitten sleep?
Kittens will look for warmth and coziness when they want to sleep. This means that the best place for a kitten to sleep is a secure spot, sheltered from draughts and warm enough is the best set up. It is a good idea to have the kitten close to you for the first few nights.