For some cat lovers, one fuzzball isn’t enough. A second addition to your family can double the love and cuddles in your life. However, you also have to consider how other pets will react to a new feline in the home. Adopting a new kitten may sound like a great idea, but not to your resident cat!
Introducing a new kitten to your resident cat takes time and a whole lot of patience. After taking the appropriate steps, two kitties that started off as strangers can become the best of friends. Here’s everything you need to know about bringing a new feline friend into your home.
Give the kitten a separate room
Before your cats can meet each other, the new kitten needs a few days to get acclimated to their new environment. Put your resident cat in a closed room, then bring the kitten into your home with a cat carrier. Don’t allow them to explore the entire house just yet. Instead, prepare a small room the new kitty can have all to themselves.
Pick a room your resident cat doesn’t usually visit, such as a bathroom, laundry room or guest bedroom. Make sure it has a door to close off the area along with all the essentials—food, water, bedding, litter box, toys and a scratching post. Keep the new kitten confined to this room for the first few days.
Exchange scents with both cats
Before your felines can meet face to face, they have to learn each other’s scents. Cats harness their powerful sense of smell to gather valuable information about other household pets. When they eventually meet each other, the cats are less likely to become aggressive because they’re familiar with the other’s scent.
Spend time with the cats in separate rooms. Allow one cat to pick up the other’s scent on your hands and clothes. You can also rub a blanket or towel on the cat’s cheek since the face contains many scent glands. Place these items in the opposite cat’s environments and sprinkle them with treats or catnip to create a positive association with the other cat’s smell.
Trade the cats’ living spaces
Ramp up the scent exchange by allowing the cats to explore each other’s environments alone. Contain the resident cat to a single room, then give the new kitten free roam of the house. This will give your new kitty the lay of the land without having to deal with a potentially aggressive resident cat.
Next, allow the resident cat to sniff around your new kitten’s room. This allows the resident cat to learn about the new kitten’s presence while retaining control over the rest of the house. Swap their living spaces several times a day for about 15 minutes per session.
Let them play near each other
If all goes well, it’s time to let the cats see each other for the first time. Let the kitties come face to face, but keep them separated in case either one displays aggressive behavior. Draw the resident cat to the door with a teaser wand, then get the new kitten’s attention by wiggling it beneath the door. The cats will be able to sniff each other while remaining separated. If both cats appear calm, open the door a couple inches to say hello!
Once they’ve mastered this step, put a baby gate in the door way to let them see each other for longer periods of time. Encourage the cats to play or eat near the baby gate so they get used to sharing the same space. Go back to playing behind a closed door if either one becomes aggressive.
Monitor short meet and greets
The final step is to put both cats in the same room. Choose a neutral room the resident cat doesn’t visit very often. Provide food, treats and toys to distract the cats and prevent aggressive behavior. Keep these sessions very short (5 to 10 minutes) and practice them several times a day. Supervise the cats at all times, and be prepared to separate them with a pillow or piece of cardboard in case things go south.
If the cats play nice with each other, you can graduate to longer supervised sessions. Try leaving the room for a few minutes to see how they handle being alone together. Gradually increase the time spent unsupervised until you can leave the home feeling confident they’ll be safe in each other’s company.
Move through these steps at the cats’ pace. Acclimating to a new kitten can take days, weeks or months. Force the introductions too quickly, and your cats might never get along. If one cat appears fearful or aggressive, go back to the previous step. Taking it nice and slow will help them become buddies—or at the very least, tolerate each other!