Kittens can be hard to resist, and if you’ve seen the perfect little face peeking up at you and decided that you have to have him, congratulations!
You are now the brand-new pet parent of a mischievous, cuddly kitten. However, if you have an adult cat at home, they may or may not be so thrilled to hear about the new arrival.
Cats all have their own different personalities, and some adult cats might love the idea of having a new kitten to mother (and boss around), while others might be absolutely put off by the idea and it will need a lot of careful introduction.
As you prepare to bring your new kitten home, here are some tips to help you get things started on the right foot between your kitten and older cat.
Keep them Separate
Don’t just put your kitten and older cat in the same room together and hope that they get on. Chances are, it’s not going to happen like that.
Your older cat will have already marked their territory around your home and as very territorial animals, cats can get quite upset if another feline decides to start getting comfortable in their spaces – even if it’s a kitten, although this may be less of a threat. You can try The best thing to do is to preparinge a room for your new kitten to live in for a while when you first bring them home, and try to divide your time between the two.
Try not to leave them both alone, and ask family members to help out and keep them company when the cats need to be sepearated. Not only will this help to ease your older cat into the transition of having another cat in the home, but it’ll also help the kitten adjust to the massive change they are going through in their life right now.
Once your kitten is set up in their room with food, a litter tray, water, a comfy bed and loads of toys to play with, you might want to start a process known as scent swapping with your kitten and older cat. This helps both pets get used to each other’s scents before they meet each other in person, so by the time they do meet, they already kind of know each other. This is easy enough to do – you can simply pet the kitten and then let the older cat sniff your hands, and vice versa or you might want to swap blankets and beds around.
Introduce Them Carefully
Once your kitten has started to settle in, it’s time to think about introducing the cats to each other carefully. Never force this and don’t be disheartened if they are not best friends immediately – chances are both are going to be a little shocked to see another cat in front of them, and the kitten might be a little scared.
A good way to do this is allowing them to see one another in different rooms; you can put a safety gate or another barrier between the doors so that they can see and sniff each other from either side of it, but aren’t able to physically touch one another. The way that they both react will help you determine how things are likely going to be between them.
Knowing how to read cat body language can help you determine the dynamics between your kitten and older cat. For example, if your older cat is rolling, over, showing his belly, and seems relaxed, this is a good sign that he is accepting the kitten and inviting her to play. On the other hand, a swishing tail, raised back, or pinned back ears can spell trouble, and you will need to be more patient in helping the cats get used to one another.
Bear in mind that your kitten might still be scared, even if the older cat is accepting of them, so don’t force them to interact with the older cat and let them get used to it on their own time.
When it comes to helping your older cat and kitten get on, there are plugins that you can buy and install easily in your home. Feliway is one well-known brand; they offer plugins that release ‘happy’ cat pheromones to help both cats relax and feel more at home with one another. If you decide to use a plugin, get one as early as possible so that it can start having an effect before you introduce the cats to one another.
Make sure that both your older cat and your kitten have some safe places to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed or need some space. Even if they are getting on, cats do tend to need some space alone from time to time, and your adult cat will appreciate some perches that are high up that the kitten can’t get to, especially if you have a playful kitten on your hands who’s always wanting to frolic about with your older cat when they just want a rest.
It’s a good idea to make sure that you have separate litter trays, food bowls, and water bowls for your adult cat and kitten so that they don’t get tempted to start fighting over resources. Cats that have to use the same litter tray can easily get upset about it and end up doing their business on your floor. As a general rule of thumb, you should have one litter tray per cat plus one more. – so three is a good number. They might choose to share a litter tray, but it’s nice for them to have the option.
Finally, be sure to supervise your adult cat and kitten together until you can trust them to get on. There might be some scrapping and fighting in the early stages, so make sure that both are covered with cat insurance that will take carecan help cover of vet fees in the case of any injuries. Everypaw offers a range of cat insurance options depending on your needs. In the event of a claim, payments can be made directly to your vet.
Some bickering may be necessary to establish boundaries, and this will not usually be accompanied by hissing and growling. If you notice your cats fighting, a loud noise will usually break it up, and then you can keep them apart for a while to cool off.
Introducing a kitten to an older cat successfully takes a lot of time and patience. Spend time with both cats and provide them with a happy home and a stable routine.