Introducing kitten to a cat for the first time can be quite stressful both to you and your resident cat. We have mentioned it in our previous blog that felines tend to have abrupt changes in their behaviour when exposed to too much stress. As such, you have to be very observant for signs of stress and anxiety to address the problem early on. These signs include aggressive behaviour, decreased appetite, excessive vocalisation (meows, growls, and chatters), and hiding.
Concerns like “my cat doesn’t like my new kitten,” or questions such as “when will my cat stop hissing at new kitten?” were raised. Apparently, we cannot force the kitten and the cat to like each other right there and then. But with the question, “will my cat accept a new kitten?” the answer is yes! With the following simple steps, you may have your older cat living harmoniously with your new kitten in a span of a few weeks or months.
1. Provide them with their own separate spaces (at least at first).
One should set up a separate “sanctuary” for the new kitten and the resident feline. It should have all the necessities they need including their own food, water, litter tray, scratching post, toys, and a bed.
Be sure to give the newcomer enough time to get to know her new surroundings without feeling threatened. Spend time with your new kitty, but be sure not to ignore your resident cat.
2. Non-visual introduction through scent
In your cat’s world, smells are more important than the appearance. Once ensured that both are happy with their new spaces, let both cats get used to each of their scent. This should be done before moving on to visual introduction. Here are ways of passive introduction:
- Swapping of blankets or beds
- A gentle rubbing of flannel to both cats on their cheek
- Switch both cats to each other’s room.
Do these things with your supervision. The goal is to get introduced to each other’s scent to familiarise new scents and to be prepared when the right time comes.
3. Face-to-face introduction
When the non-visual introduction was done with ease, you may proceed to the gradual face-to-face introduction. It should be done gradually to avoid signs of fear and aggression.
How do you get your cat to get along with a new kitten? Associate each other’s presence to a positive one by using food and treats. During mealtime, place food bowls on each side with a sanctuary door in between. If your resident cat or the kitten refuses to come close within five to six feet of the door, give them time to adjust. Instead, gradually move each bowl closer and closer to the door. As soon as progress can be seen, allow them to be near without a barrier with your supervision.
4. Face-to-face interaction
Ensure that the former steps went down smoothly before proceeding to step 4. The first few interactions should be kept in short sessions, then gradually increase the amount of time spent together. As an owner, you should never allow both felines to fight as an introduction. If any of the two starts to act aggressively, it is best to take a step back in the process.
5. Let it all play out with your supervision.
Supervision is as important as giving positive experiences with one another on its first few weeks or months. Know that the introduction takes time considering that cats naturally live a solitary life. They can be territorial and difficult when it comes to sharing their resources such as food, sleeping areas, and personal places. However, if you are having further problems concerning their behaviour you may get in touch with animal behaviourists (Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) or cat expert vets.
Things to remember when introducing kitten to cat
- Make sure to provide litter trays for each cat and an extra one.
- Make sure to provide all felines with a “safe place” they can retreat to when their mood calls in.
- Introducing cats to each other quickly with or little preparation can lead to cats feeling scared. This can cause cats to perceive each other as something threatening. As such, a careful and gradual introduction is always the key.
- A new kitten can be less perceived as a threat to a resident cat. However, kittens with an outgoing and playful personality can be stressful for older cats.
- If your decision is set to introduce a new cat at home, make sure that you can provide enough space and resources that all cats can share harmoniously.
- If playful cat fights become aggressive ones, you need to start with the introduction all over again or you may need to ask professional advice from a vet or an animal behaviourist.