How to Introduce a New Kitten to Your Cat
Getting a new kitten is a lot of fun, but not every member of your family may be as excited as you are.
Kittens are just plain fun to have around. Their playful personalities and hilarious antics will keep you entertained for hours. But if you already have a feline family member in residence, you should introduce them to one another slowly and carefully to ensure they get along peacefully for the rest of their lives. Follow these simple steps to introduce a kitten to an established cat.
8 Expert Tips to Help You Introduce a New Kitten to Your Cat
1. Consider your cats’ personalities.
Before adding a new kitten to your home consider your current cat’s personality, age, and attitude. If your cat is in the prime of her life and has a bold, outgoing personality, she may enjoy having a fascinating new roommate to watch and play with. On the other hand, if your cat is getting up in years or has a reclusive attitude, adding a new kitten may just make the poor thing anxious and stressed. Most cats will accept a new kitten over time, but if you know your cat will be miserable, you might want to hold off on adopting a new kitten.
2. Introduce by scent first.
Start the introduction by giving your cat something that smells like the kitten, advises Zazie Todd, PhD, social psychologist, founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology and author of “Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.” “Show the cat something from the kitten’s bedding,” she says. “Then make sure to treat your cat.” Todd says that food as a positive association can help build the bond.
3. Provide the cats separate space at first.
Keep your new kitten in a separate room from your resident cat. That way, they can begin getting used to each other's scent without having to confront each other face-to-face. Then after a few days, put the kitten in a carrier or a room with a screen door so they can see and smell each other from a safe space. Don’t worry if your older cat hisses and yowls and runs away (some cats can be drama queens). Eventually curiosity will win out and your cat will slowly approach the kitten again.
4. Infuse calming influences.
During the introduction phase, you can smooth the waters by using a pheromone spray to calm both cats. “There is evidence that pheromones do work to help cats get along,” Todd says. She recommends the Feliway Multicat diffuser, which calms cats.
5. Be patient.
Never rush an introduction of your kitten to your cat. Cats are creatures of habit and may resent the intrusion of a young feline, but over time things will generally work out. It’s up to you to stay calm and positive and never try to force the animals together before they’re ready.
6. Feed your kitten at the same time.
Try feeding your felines at the same time from each side of the screen or kitten carrier. This way, your older cat will begin to associate the new kitten with a pleasant experience.
7. Give your kitten her own litter box.
Always provide your new kitten his own litter box and food and water bowls away from where your current cat dines and does her business. Todd says that kittens and cats should have their own everything. If each animal has their own dining and bathroom facilities, there’s less chance of disputes.
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8. Know when to play referee.
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. Remember, though, that kittens can be pretty clueless and may keep trying to play with and even jump onto the older cat. If this happens, redirect the kitten with a treat or toy and positive encouragement.