Your Complete Guide On How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat

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? If your answer is yes, then keep on scrolling.

Unfortunately, the introduction process is not as easy peasy as you might think. Putting the two cats 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. Want to know how? 

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.

Making the entire process a bit more bearable and a little less stressful for both your new kitten and your long-time feline friend. 

Also Read: How to Play With a Cat in Safe and Awesome Way

How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat

The New Kitten Is On The Way: How To Get Ready

Yes, the thought of bringing a new kitten home is really exciting. But, this 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

If you think that your resident cat and your new kitten can work out their differences right away, think again. 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 cats’ territory and give your new kitten its own spot.

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 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 brand new stuff.

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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: 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 cats’ vaccination 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.

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 3: 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
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7 Tips On How To Make Kitten-Cat Introductions More Positive

On the day you have to introduce a new kitty to everyone, you and your family members might feel thrilled, but your adult, existing 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:

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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

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Signs That Your Cat/Kitten is Under Stress
  • Paws or scratches the doors or windows
  • Vocalizing
  • Paces or rears up at the door
  • Tries to get your attention when you leave the room
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding

2. Allow Your Kitten To Adjust to Their Surroundings

If you plan to introduce a new kitten to an adult cat, make sure to do it slowly. Keep the kitten in a separate room and let your new cat get accustomed to all the new stuff and people.

This may take some time – from days to even weeks. Hiding behavior is also expected. Just let them be. Sooner or later, your cat will feel at ease. 

If your cat shows signs of frustration, you might want to consider giving her more space – space that your adult cat can’t access.

Allocating time together for play and grooming can also help improve the parent-cat bond and alleviate your kitten’s stress.

Apart from giving the new kitten some lovin’, 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.

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3. Introduce Each Other’s Scent

Once the new kitten is feeling all comfy in their area, you can begin swapping scents. This way, your pets can familiarize themselves with each other’s scent or smell 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.

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, later on, be 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 there are common signals of aggression. If this happens, it’s time for you to keep your pet cats hidden 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, abort the physical contact. You can always try another time.

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 with the positive behavior.

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.

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Final Thoughts

Accept it; the introduction process between your new kitten and older cat is not going to be stress-free. In fact, it is going to require a truckload of patience (plus some treats). Parenting, after all, comes with responsibilities.

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.

  • Updated September 16, 2021
Mary Nielsen

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.