Kittens are cuddly, sweet, and adorable fuzzy creatures. The kitten stage is full of fun as they explore their new world with curious paws, learn to jump and climb, and bond with their humans for life. If you already have an adult cat, getting a kitten is usually a better idea than another adult cat. Adult cats are known to be generally more accepting of a kitten, as cats are very territorial. Research and careful planning may make all the difference between lifelong friends verses just coexistence or strife.
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Anyone who has ever loved a cat knows how unique they are, and how all have different personalities. Some cats will be excited for a new friend, and some are perfectly happy to be the only kitty in your heart. Whatever your cat's natural instinct of having a new sibling may be, there are ways to be more successful when introducing a new kitten to your cat.
The biggest issue with introducing a new kitten to your cat will be overcoming your cat's feeling of having her territory invaded by an uninvited newcomer. If possible, before bringing the kitten home, prepare a safe, separate space to keep the kitten in while everyone adjusts.
Provide each cat with their own food and water bowls, litter boxes, comfortable bedding, and toys. Plan to keep this setup for at least a few days, (and for when you are not there to supervise in the coming weeks) to ensure the kitten is healthy and adjusting to the new home.
Help to ease your cat's adjustment with Pet Relax, a natural flower remedy that helps anxious cats and kittens to be calm. It gently calms the cat's nervous system without making them drowsy, and is useful for reducing aggressive and destructive behavior.
Cats have an amazing sense of smell and learn through scents. Before they ever lay eyes on each other, introduce a new kitten to your cat by exchanging their scents. Even just petting one and then the other and allowing them to sniff your hand is great for exposing them to each other.
Swap bedding and blankets between the kitten and cats so they get used to each other's scent, creating a sense of familiarity.
Rubbing a cloth or towel on the kitten and then rubbing the scent onto the cat's furniture is another great way to infuse each other's scent to the separate spaces.
Keeping the kitties separate at first has another important benefit, ensuring the kitten isn't carrying any parasites or disease that could harm your existing furry family members. Boost your cat's immune system with our Immunity Support Supplement prior to the face to face meeting so they are in ideal shape to stay healthy in case any hidden parasites or illnesses are lurking.
Use crates to keep a safe barrier when introducing a new kitten to your cat initially, so that the kitten is safe from an unexpected poor reaction from your adult cat. Through the safety of the wire gate, they may sniff and see one another, and you will be able to see how your cat will likely react to the kitten.
Feeding each kitty on their side of the barrier will also create a positive experience to associate with one another. If your adult cat does not react well, and hisses or growls, it's not necessarily a bad sign! It just means to move slowly and help your cat to adjust and accept the newcomer.
If all is going well for a few days with the crated introductions, it's time to give the cats a chance to truly meet. If at all possible, have one person to intercede with each cat if needed. Keeping your safety in mind also, be ready to pop the kitten back to safety inside the crate if your cat isn't excited to interact directly face to face with the kitten.
Have treats at the ready (food is always great for positive reinforcement!), and keep your voice and demeanor calm, reassuring, and encouraging. Start with both cats being petted and held by a trusted human, slowly allowing them to interact if they seem friendly and curious.
If the initial face to face meet and greet is not met with happiness, go back to the crated introductions, as they may just need a little more time and space to adjust. Remember, a lifelong companionship is hopefully being formed, so there is no benefit in rushing the introductory time frame.
If things are going well with the guarded introductions, allow increased visiting times, being sure to very close by to be available for separating them quickly.
If the kitten gets too playful for your older cat's liking, or any other conflict arises, that could be dangerous or harm the budding relationship.
Plan to keep them separate for a while when you are not able to supervise, as even without an adult cat to adjust to, kittens need constant supervision to keep them safe and out of trouble.
Even if your cats seem to be getting along well or at least coexisting, your older cat may be feeling stresses or anxious with the new family member. Some signs of stress or anxiety in your cat may include hiding or being withdrawn, less desire and excitement for meals, or being more vocal than usual. Your older cat may start sleeping in different places or possibly not using the litter box as they should, or just other unusual behaviors for your kitty.
Pay close attention to both the kitten and your older cat to be sure they are both eating and drinking enough, and are showing individually and together, that the adjustment is going well.
Cats love routine, and will often tell us when it's time to wake up for the day or be fed. Keeping your cat on her normal schedule for play time, sleeping, and eating will help her adjust to the new kitten and feel less threatened.
Establishing routine for the kitten will likewise set you up for a successful new relationship with your new furry family member.
Whether things start off great, or take longer to work out, keep your end goal in sight! As the Greek Proverb says, “ One Minute of Patience, Ten Years of Peace”. Realistically, expect for the cats to need at least a few weeks to warm up to the other's presence. Keep alert to any changes in behaviors as they get older and your kitten matures. These kitties depend on you for their safe and loving environment, and with care and preparation, they can live a long harmonious life together.
To be sure you are set up for success, also read our blog Cat Litter Box 101: Everything You Need to Know for the Right Set Up, and be sure to have our Pet Relax on hand to be ready to help your kitties to navigate any stress during the adjustment period.
For more pet care tips and resources, visit our BestLife4Pets blog or feel free to contact us with any questions. From pet training advice to health tips, and everything in between, we have you covered.