In this article we are going to show you how to introduce a kitten to an older cat. Bringing a new kitten into your home to meet your current cat can be a stressful and nerve-racking experience for the both of you. It’s no good just bringing the kitten back and hoping for the best, as this will not end very good. You will need a plan of action.
Fortunately there are some great techniques you can follow when introducing a kitten to an older cat. We all know how unpredictable cat’s can be so all cat’s will react different, but the step-by-step process we provide you in this post will make the procedure go as smooth as possible. There’s also a great video for you to watch at the end of this post.
Is It Okay To Introduce a Kitten To An Older Cat?
Cat’s are instinctively very territorial creatures, so you may be asking “is it okay to introduce a kitten to an older cat?” Any cat owner will always be nervous about doing something like this as it could trigger negative reactions such as jealousy. The jealousy is because they are no longer getting all of the attention, and this could cause aggressive behavior.
With that being said, there is absolutely no reason not to bring a new kitten into the family. It’s perfectly okay to do this and eventually build a great bond and friendship between the two of them. All it needs is a little planning and a lot of patience.
How Long Does It Take For a Cat To Get Used To a New Kitten?
From doing a bit of research, the ASPCA have stated that it takes between 8 – 12 months for two cat’s to develop a friendship. This is why we said you will need a lot of patience, as there is no real way of telling exactly how long this process will take. Some cat’s may love each other right from the start, with others it may take a whole year of fighting before they eventually tolerate each other.
To continue what we started talking about above, let’s now take a look at a cat’s social behavior. When compared to humans and dogs, cat’s have very different social needs. Cat’s are very happy being the only cat in the home and very rarely feel the need for a new furry friend.
As long as there is no competition for things such as litter trays, food, and sleeping areas, then everything should be pretty peaceful with no problems. The way in which you introduce the new kitten into your home will be the difference between success and failure, which is what we are going to show you in this post.
How To Introduce a Kitten To An Older Cat Step-By-Step
#1 Calm Your Older Cat
You will know your cat better than anybody else, so if you feel like your cat get’s stressed or anxious very easily, this is a great first step to take. There are some excellent products available which will help calm a nervous cat such as sprays, wipes, and diffusers. Here are some of our top picks:
- Relaxivet Natural Cat Calming Pheromone Diffuser: More info here
- Comfort Zone Diffuser Kit for Cat Calming: More info here
- Feliway Animal Health Feliway Wipes: More info here
You should be using these a few weeks before you bring your new kitten home.
#2 Preparing Your Home For Seperation
Before you even bring your new kitten back home, you must first create separate living areas for your cat’s, especially for the kitten. This is a great idea, not only before the initial introduction of the two cat’s, but also for the safety of the kitten. Here’s a quick checklist of things you will need to consider when creating a kitten-proof room:
- Tape down or cover all electric cords
- Remove breakable items
- Remove other hazardous items
- Cover up any holes
- Control access
- Provide a light
- Remove any plants
- Fresh water and food
- Warm bed and blanket
- Litter box
We wrote an article called “Are Kittens Okay to Be Left Alone?” which goes into way more depth and detail on how to create a separate zone for a kitten and all of the essential things you will need.
This process of separate should last at least a few days, but could also last way longer. Just judge it on how your cat reacts, if you feel you need more time then do not rush the process. It’s important to keep your eyes out for any signs of stress or anxiety which are:
- Aggressive behavior
- decreased appetite
- Becoming more vocal
If this kind of behavior continues for more than a few days, then it’s always advised to seek professional help from a veterinarian. The best way to keep your older cat stress free is to make as little changes as possible to their environment. Cat’s are creatures of habit and do not like change so the less changes made the better the situation will be. This should be pretty easy to do as your kitten will be in their kitten-proof room.
#3 Get Your Cat and Kitten Used To Each Others Scent
The next step is in how to introduce a kitten to an older cat is to allow them to smell and hear each other. Before you do this visually (which is in the next step), you will have to do this in a passive manner which means they cannot see or touch each other. Cat’s always associate food as something positive, so a great way of doing this is feeding them at the same time on opposite sides of a closed door.
This will allow them to associate food as a positive sign in the presence of another cat. It will also allow them to know each other is there, but without visually seeing or touching each other. Do this for a few days, and then do the exact same process, but switch the cat’s over, so the adult cat is now in the kittens room and vice versa. This will allow them to explore each others belongings and get used to each others scent.
#4 Introduce Them Visually
The next step is to allow your cat and kitten to see each other visually. What you you don’t want to do just yet is allow them to fully get to each other, as that could lead to fighting. The best way to go about this is to use a barrier such as a tall stair gate. You will obviously have to supervise, as your cat can jump high and will get over the gate, but this process allows them to see and smell each other without directly meeting.
When doing this, consider a location that is easy for both your cat and kitten to have easy access back to their own areas should they wish to. Also don’t force the situation, allow them to approach each other in their own time rather than picking either cat up, this could just create more stress. Just be very patient with this step. Don’t forget to have some tasty treats handy which will create a positive association with them meeting.
Here are some other points to keep in mind:
- Keep the first meeting short and increase the duration slightly over time.
- Always end the meeting on a positive note using treats if needed.
- If they hiss or moan, it’s a sign to take things very slowly.
- Try keeping the kitten in a crate for extra safety and security.
#5 Supervised Playtime
This is a big step in the meeting process as your kitten and kitten will now be within touching distance of each other with no barriers. Let’s break this down into some simple tips you can follow:
- Start off with short sessions.
- Increase the duration over time.
- If either cat doesn’t behave, take a step back then go very slowly.
- Never allow the cat’s to fight.
- When the two of them are getting along, reinforce good behavior by using treats.
- Be very patient. This could take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
#6 Understand That It’s Going To Take Time
It’s important that you remain very patient with the whole process and do not rush things. The slower you go, the better. If you do run into any serious problems when introducing a kitten to a cat, you could seek the help of a behavior expert.
How To Stop Your Cat From Attacking Your Kitten
If you want to prevent your cat from attacking your kitten, here are a few tips you need to follow:
- Never let them fight: If your cat attacks your kitten, interrupt using a loud clap of your hands.
- Neuter your cat: Male cats who are intact are prone to being aggressive.
- Don’t try to calm an aggressive cat: If your cat get’s aggressive, it’s best to give them space and allow them to calm down.
- Reward: Always use treats to reward good behaviour when you see your cat’s getting along.
- Separate their resources: Resources such as litter boxes, food bowls, and beds should be separated to reduce competition, which will also reduce any chances of fighting.
Hope you enjoyed this post on how to introduce a kitten to an older cat. If you have ever had to do this, let us know in the comments below how you got on and how long it took. Here’s a great video you can watch on the subject of introducing a kitten to your cat.