7 Steps for Successfully Introducing Your Cat to a New Kitten
So you’ve decided to adopt a kitten this spring, but you already have one (or more) at home - what next? You’ve likely settled on the purrfect match for yourself, but how do you ensure that your resident feline feels the same way? To help ease the process, we’ve compiled 7 steps to help you set your cats up for a smooth meeting and lifelong friendship. Please note that older cats may have an especially difficult time adapting to a new kitten and therefore may require some additional patience.
Step 1: Before adoption, set up a safe space
Due to the territorial nature of our feline companions, it is crucial that each kitty has their own “safe room” until they are comfortable sharing space. Set this up ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry with getting everything in order once you arrive back home. Ideally, your existing cat will maintain access to most of the house while the new kitten will be confined to a smaller area, such as a spare bedroom or bathroom. Be sure to include a comfortable bed or blanket, toys, food, water, and litter in each cat’s respective space. Keep in mind that you will need to maintain at least one litter box per cat and separate food and water stations for each cat in the long term.
Step 2: Take a trip to the vet’s office before bringing kitty home
If your new kitten has not already had a full exam and received all of their vaccines, it is best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian before heading home. After the appointment, your kitten will be ready to settle in and get comfortable once you get home without the interruption and added stress of loading back up into the car for a vet visit. Ensuring that your new kitten has all of their vaccines and is properly spayed or neutered will also protect the health and well-being of your resident cat.
Step 3: Help your new kitten get settled into their “safe room”
Once you make it home, it’s time to introduce your kitten to their space. Sit and play/cuddle with them for a while to bond with your new companion and help them get comfortable. Your existing cat may be stressed by the presence of a new kitten in the home, so you should pay them extra attention as well.
Step 4: Introduce your cats to each other’s scent
As you’ve likely noticed, the sense of smell is very important to cats. Allowing your cats to smell one another’s scent can go a long way in building trust and comfort. You can begin the process by exchanging an object such as bedding or by petting one cat and then allowing the other to sniff your hand.
Step 5: Try introducing the cats to one another visually
For this step, you should set up a space where your cats are able to see each other but not directly interact. Setting up a tall slatted gate is a great option. The cats will be placed on opposite sides of the gate and observed for the duration of the visit. Do not restrain either cat during this process as they can become agitated, thus slowing the introduction process. If they both seem curious and friendly, you can reward them with treats or playtime (while maintaining separation). If either cat seems angry or distressed, return them to their safe space and try again later. In this case, you may want to return to Step 4.
Step 6: Allow them to meet
Once both cats are behaving well and showing signs of positive engagement during Step 5, it’s time to let them meet face-to-face! Monitor them closely and separate them if either displays aggressive behavior such as hissing or arching. If all is going well, allow them to play and sniff one another. Treats are encouraged while they are playing well together. They should be returned to their individual spaces after a while, and this process should be repeated until they consistently do well together.
Step 7: Watch your cats go from purrfect strangers to best friends!
As time passes, the hope is that your cats will become inseparable and provide each other comfort and companionship. This extra companionship is especially wonderful when you have to be out of the home for a day or longer, but an additional cat is no substitute for human interaction and playtime. If you’ll be gone for a full day or longer, Meowtel is here to help connect you with a trusted in-home sitter.
With the proper process, introducing a new kitten to your home can be incredibly rewarding for both you and your cats. If all goes well, you and your resident cat will both have a new bestie for life!
Still anxious about the introduction? Here are some additional tips to prepare for a seamless introduction to your home.