There are loads of reasons to adopt a kitten, but you’d be right to pump the brakes if you already have a cat at home. Given abundant time, space and encouragement adult cats or aging seniors can definitely adapt to a new addition. However, their acceptance and tolerance of an interloper/new pal typically do not develop sooner than a few months.
The best ways to introduce a kitten to your resident cat will require preparation, steadfast dedication, and a few of our go-to tips.
Creatures of Habit
It might not be a stretch to think that your senior cat is lonely, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to share their hard-won territory, either. Younger adult cats can be equally tricky to convince that a new kitten doesn’t mean any harm.
Everyone Else Is Happy
Prior to bringing home a new kitten, see if you can bring home their scent via their crate, a blanket or toy. Encourage your cat to smell the object while soothing them and giving them rewards. They will begin to make positive associations with the new kitten’s scent.
Separate, Don’t Alienate
Your resident cat likely has the run of the entire house. In order to boost their sense of territory, create a new space for the kitten in a room not favored by your cat. Prepare this room for the short-term with bedding, litter box, food/water bowls, scratching posts, climbers or perches, and lots of toys.
When you bring home the new kitten, be sure that your resident cat is behind a closed door to their preferred room. When the kitten is settled you can let your cat freely roam the rest of the house. Allow your cat to smell your hands and shirt while giving them loads of praise and affection.
To best introduce a new kitten to your resident cat is to sort of exploit the good feelings experienced at meal times. Start to feed both cats at the same time on opposite sides of the same door to cultivate positive associations.
Pause for Paws
Over the next couple of days you can switch out the food/water bowls of your two felines. Try to also get them to use the bedding and toys of their counterpart. Once you notice that they aren’t refusing the items used by the other cat, you can open the door of the kitten’s room just enough so they can see each other.
Some owners find success in placing two weights on either side of the door, controlling how much room to give the cats to see and smell each other. Otherwise, set up a baby gate (or two, if you have jumpers!).
Introduce a New Kitten
Expect to see and hear some posturing, hissing, and even growling as they figure out this new dynamic. Watch them carefully during this period and intervene if you notice escalating tensions. Continue to separate and reunite them as you see fit, depending on how much you think they can tolerate.
Don’t forget that treats, toys, and lots of affection are antidotes to negative reactions.
As always if we can assist you with any questions or concerns, we’re always here for you two-cat family at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.