Last updated on December 12th, 2021
Bringing a kitten into the home is a great way to give your older feline a companion to play with, someone they can train and teach things to, and a friend to cuddle up with on cold winter nights, but when it comes to introducing a kitten to an adult cat, this can be stressful for pet owners, and sometimes difficult for the kitten, however, there are several ways to introduce a kitten to an older cat.
The information outlined below mostly applies to kittens that were adopted since older cats know that the mother normally comes around looking for her kittens and that it would be trouble if she caught them in the area so they’ll generally avoid all the areas that the kittens may be in.
In other words, older cats will stay away from kittens when their mother is around but how do you avoid the conflict and introduce a kitten without a mother to an older cat in the home?
You must know that adult cats usually have a difficult time accepting any new cat especially when they were the only feline in the household.
Older cats tend to accept kittens more readily when they would’ve had experience being around them in the past.
Here are the steps for introducing your kitten to an older cat and some tips every cat owner should know further below to help make the transition process easier for everyone.
- Create and prepare a small room for the new addition
- Confine the new kitten in the small room for a few days.
- Rub cloth and towels on the head and cheeks of both cats and place them where they rest
- Swap food bowls before every meal
- Regularly move your cats into one another’s rooms
- Place one of the felines in a cage and allow 2-3 minutes of visual introduction without physical interaction
- Install a screen door so that they can see and smell each other but not engage in physical interactions
- Time to allow short physical interactions between the cats under your strict supervision
- Pair these short visitation with treats as a positive reinforcement for good behavior
- Allow unhindered, unsupervised interaction only when
- The kitten is 16 weeks old
- If all prior steps were successful
- And also, be patient through this introduction process
Isolating Your New Kitten
Preparing the room
Before preparing the room that you want to confine the new kitten in, you’ll need to consider the following factors
- The number of cats in the home
- The room should be in a quiet area where other household members are walking so that the kitten can get acquainted with sounds of your footsteps as well as existing pets
- The contents in the room. It would be best to remove any tools or sharp objects
It’s recommended that you confine a new cat to a small room for the first couple of days and the reason why this is done initially is to not overwhelm the new kitten with new scents and new objects in the home.
A smaller room has fewer things so it’s less stressful for the kitten to be adjusted to the area, however, a bathroom will be an ideal spot for new kittens but fairly small for adult cats (if you had adopted a mature stray cat)
Take the time to bond with your new kitten so that you can get to know one another.
You should also include a litter box, a food bowl, a water bowl as well as a few toys to keep the kitten occupied in this new enclosed space.
Introduce Kittens to Older Cats Through Their Scent
This begins the process of a safe and smooth introduction because cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to identify people, objects, and other pets in their environment, so when you provide the scent from each cat to the other one and have it carried through towels, blankets or clothes, this can further solidify their relationship without the presence of the other cat nearby to feel threatened.
Mingling Their Scent
Refreshing and mingling their scents can quickly help them to have positive associations with one another since they’re part of the same household.
Swapping Food Bowls
When it comes to swapping food bowls, this is an effective way to familiarize the older cat with your kitten’s scent and vice versa.
Moving Cats Into One Another’s Rooms
Once you have successfully moved the kitten out of its room you can now let your older cat move around there and get acquainted with the other feline’s scent.
By using this room swapping method, your older cat can get accustomed to the other feline’s scent in the room while stimulating the scent glands in their forehead and cheeks to rub it in different places to scent mark the area as well.
You can view this as a non-interactive scent transference of each cat to the other one’s territory while enabling them to familiarize themselves with the marked scents in the area.
Introduce Kittens to Older Cats Through Visual Access
By placing one of the felines in a cage, you prevent any potential conflict while increasing the likelihood of your older cat becoming familiar with the kitten.
If you don’t have a cage, try giving both felines visual access through a slightly cracked open door with your supervision to prevent any unexpected dispute.
Visual Introduction Without Physical Interaction
Since there is a face-to-face barrier separating the kitten in the cage and the adult cat, only visual contact is available here between both of them so they’ll most likely spend their time sniffing at the bottom of the cage.
Time to Allow Short Physical Interactions
It would be ideal to keep this interaction to a maximum of 10 minutes because the kitten may start to feel overwhelmed or stressed by the presence of the older cat.
Creating Positive Connections
Over a few weeks, it would be best to gradually move their food bowls closer together.
Installing a Screen Door
Another face-to-face barrier that works well is screen doors and when you have them installed, your cats can only sniff and see each other from either side, it gives them a chance to become familiar with each other, without feeling threatened.
Aside from trying to introduce kittens to older cats, there are additional things you need to know about newborn kittens.
How To Stop Indoor Cats From Fighting
If you notice that the older cat is beginning to hiss and swat his paws at the kitten, you should through a light object like a pillow to distract them then move in to separate both felines.
You can also keep a water spray close by whenever you let the kitten out of their safe space to interact with the other feline.
Ensure that you are using a clean spray bottle so that it doesn’t contain any chemical residues.
Have a separate time-out area if one of the cats misbehaves.
Avoid petting either cat when they are in the same room as it may cause the adult cat to feel separated from their owner and resentful towards the new addition of the household.
If you have tried the steps from the introduction process above but your older cat is still displaying aggressive behavior towards your little feline friend, you should contact an animal behaviorist.