Getting a new kitten can be exciting, but having an older cat as a current resident can also be a little bit daunting. You probably can’t help but think, “What if they don’t get along right away?” or “What if I have to keep them separated at all times?” That’s okay, that is why there are a few steps you can take to introduce your older cat to your new kitten. Like all other animals, proper introductions are important so that they feel comfortable around each other. Another factor to keep in mind is that not all cats like to be around other cats or animals in general, so make sure to take your time and look into alternatives.
Make sure your new kitten feels comfortable
Making sure your kitten feels comfortable is very important so that they can adapt to their new home with ease. Doing this also enables your new kitten to feel relaxed and safe rather than on edge or stressed. The stress your kitten could face in an improper environment could make the introduction process more difficult to implement. So making sure your new kitten has their own setup with enough room, the right furniture, water, and food is very important during this process. Your home is a completely new environment for them so you want to make sure you are prepared to give them an easy transition.
Here are a few ways you can make sure your kitten feels comfortable and safe:
Give them a room to themselves
Introducing your kitten to their new home is exciting, but with an older cat around you want to make sure they are in a cat carrier when you first bring them in. Bring them to a confined room in the carrier to make sure there aren’t any issues such as your older cat sensing an intruder. Give your new kitten a room entirely to themselves ensuring that they have room to explore a part of the house in. Doing this enables them to put their scent on pieces of furniture which is a way for them to mark their territory and leave their scent. With that being said, making sure the room is clean and in an area where your older cat doesn’t explore or hang out too much is also important to keep in mind.
Give them brand new cat items
Buying brand new cat items for your kitten is also very important to keep in mind. This means there isn’t another cat’s scent on these items which allows the kitten to claim them as their own. If you do not implement new furniture, toys, litter boxes, etc the kitten may smell your older cat’s scent on them and this could potentially make them stressed and uninterested in the items given to them.
These cat items include but are not limited to:
- Water/food bowl
- Litter box
- Cat tree
- Scratching post
All of these items are recommended for your kitten to have in their area. Giving these items to your kitten ensures that they have their own space and gives them things to do and explore. Presenting their items like this allows them to become comfortable faster and helps them not feel so stressed or overwhelmed by their new environment.
Give them room to make themselves at home
Your kitten should be able to explore on their own once they are provided with everything they need. Giving them room will allow them to take in their new home and make themselves comfortable while doing so. Making sure that you don’t smother them with too much attention will allow them to feel their way around their new environment and explore. That is what cats do best after all.
But also make sure you are making time with them
Putting aside some time out of your day to hang out with them is also crucial. Bonding with your brand new kitten is important so they can feel comfortable around you. When your kitten feels comfortable and safe around you, it makes the introduction process a lot easier. This is also important regardless of introducing your kitten to your older cat because forming strong bonds with your pets should be a given! You want your kitten to love you and be able to be themselves around you.
Gradually introduce your cats’ scents to each other
Cats have pheromones
Cat pheromones are communicators that cats use to interact with other cats and the things around them. These communicators are secreted from glands in cats that create these pheromones. A majority of these glands can be found around their face and head.
Here are some ways you can identify when a cat is releasing pheromones
- Rubbing their head against furniture
- Putting their head against yours
- Scratching at items
The pheromones they secrete are to leave behind and serve as an I.D. but for cats. Other animals such as dogs also produce these pheromones that they leave behind.
Exchanging cat items
Take an item from each cat that has its scent on it and place it in each other's environment. Allow your kitten and older cat to get familiar with those items and be able to warm up to them. Doing this allows each cat to be comfortable with each other’s scents and creates a form of introduction. Some items you can consider swapping between cats are bedding and even one of their favorite toys!
Exchanging items between your kitten and older cat will create a foreshadowing of what they will expect when they come into contact with each other. Swapping your cats’ items is the beginning of the introduction process. If each cat seems to be comfortable with the items then you can place the items back into the original cat’s room, this can enable more scent swapping for each of the cats.
Introduce each cat to each other's environments
Introducing your kitten and older cat to each other's environments enables them to get to explore their scents better and become more familiar with the other cat. This is important so that they can exchange scents in their original environments.
Make sure your kitten is not present in their room when bringing in your older cat, and vice versa. Doing this is very important so that they are not suddenly coming into contact with each other and being startled.
Here are some steps you can take to do this properly:
- Bring your kitten into your bedroom or bathroom and keep them in there
- While your kitten is in a different room, bring your older cat into the room that your kitten occupies
- When your older cat is exploring your kitten's area, take your kitten and put them in the old cat's area to explore
- Allow your cats to explore each other's environments for a few minutes or more depending on how much exploring they do
- When putting your cats back into their rooms, put one cat in a separate room and swap them back
Introduce them face to face
Do a slow, supervised introduction
If your cats seem to feel comfortable with each other's scents, you can now begin the face-to-face introduction process. Doing this still requires a lot of precaution, so make sure they are supervised in the beginning. Slowly introduce your cats by either carrying one cat to the other while subtly introducing them or simply crack a door open so they can see each other but aren’t able to come into physical contact. Whichever you feel is most comfortable to start out with is fine, as long as you are most alert during this step.
If all goes well, introduce them in a room on the floor
If your cats seem to be interested or comfortable in each other’s presence you can put them into a room. This still requires supervision so make sure you are still alert and ready if something goes wrong. Allow your kitten and older cat to sniff each other and get to know one another. If they seem comfortable and calm around each other then that means they are getting along just fine.
If it doesn’t work out, consult a professional
Animals can be difficult, and they are all different. Some animals like to be around others or are able to and some would rather be the only baby in the house. Each pet is different and that is okay. If none of the previous steps worked then consulting a professional would be best and safest for you and your cats.