How to introduce a kitten to an older cat

Welcoming a new kitten into your home is undoubtedly one of the best feelings there is. 

If you already have a cat living with you though, a little extra care will need to be taken when making introductions.

It doesn’t matter how well behaved or how pleasant your older feline friend is, introducing a new kitten into the fold can bring about an unenthusiastic reaction. 

Cats, by their nature, are territorial animals. A new member of the family, therefore, can be seen as competition rather than a companion. 

This is why it’s a good idea to spend time working on developing your cats’ relationship.

After all, they could be housemates for a good number of years.

5 steps to take for a happy introduction

  • Create a safe space for both cats. Set up a room solely for your kitten away from any existing pets, and fill it with all the things they’ll need – food and water bowls, bed, litter tray, scratching post etc. This will give them time to adapt to their new surroundings, their new owners, and any other pets, without becoming overwhelmed too quickly. A separate safe space for your older cat should also be considered as this offers them a place to retreat to if things get a little much while they get to know the newest member of the family. 
  • Provide plenty of room should either cat want to leave. As you begin to let your cats venture out from their safe spaces, ensure there’s plenty of room around the house for them to explore. Cats tend to avoid each other until they are completely relaxed, so the last thing you want is for them to be trapped in confined spaces. Perches are a good idea as these will give your older cats the opportunity to stay out of reach of the kitten. Cats like sizing things up, so affording them time and space to observe until they become more comfortable should help. Another option is to place a stair gate across the door to your kitten’s room. This will allow for some quality face-to-face interaction without the worry of unwanted physical contact. Ensure they can return to their safe space whenever they want. 
  • More food bowls, litter trays and scratching posts. Your older cat may not be best pleased if asked to share food bowls, litter trays, scratching posts or toys with the new “intruder”. The sudden change of circumstances could even result in them feeling threatened and subsequently stressed.  Ensure your cats have all their own amenities, placing them a good distance away from each other, at least while they are becoming acquainted. Providing more litter trays to cats is also a good way to reduce anxiety among felines living in the same house. 
  • Take your time. It may take days, weeks, even months for a kitten and an older cat to become at ease with each other. Be patient. Keep face-to-face encounters brief at the beginning. Older cats can take time to adjust to changes in routine or circumstance. It’s never a good idea to force interaction between cats. This will only result in unnecessary tension, and possibly even displays of aggression. Try playing with them both at the same time in order to encourage mutual engagement. Once your cats begin to get to know each other more, you can then allow further interaction. Monitor until you are confident they can be left alone. 
  •  Keep your older cat calm. If you suspect your cat may become stressed or anxious upon the arrival of a new kitten, work on creating a more relaxing atmosphere for them. Pheromones are useful for this. In the weeks leading up to the big arrival, start using pheromone diffusers, sprays and wipes around the house in order to help your cat feel even more safe and secure. Gradually introduce the kitten’s scent into the household as well by placing scented objects, such as blankets or cushions, around the home. The kitten’s appearance should hopefully be a little less of a shock after this. 

Is there a chance my older cat never takes to my kitten?

There is never any guarantee that two cats will get along. 

No matter how much time you spend carefully orchestrating introductions, repositioning litter trays and creating safe spaces, sometimes an older cat may just not take to a kitten.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can expect a cat fight every time you walk through the door. 

The likelihood is your older cat will simply keep themselves to themselves, choosing instead to co-exist with the new addition rather than become best friends.

Remember, older, domesticated felines may have spent a large portion of their life living in an isolated environment, not socialising. 

The change in dynamic brought on by the arrival of a kitten is bound to be a little bit unnerving.

Remember not to rush the process!

Time is undoubtedly one of the most important factors when planning your kitten to cat introductions,

Rushing the process or losing patience will only serve to undo any good work you may have done in creating an environment where both cats feel at ease. 

Humans can take time getting to know each, so why should it be any different for cats?

More often than not, the older feline will just be a tad scared of our little newcomer. As soon as they come to learn that the kitten is not a danger, the frosty reception should hopefully begin to thaw. 

One way of encouraging bonding is through the use of healthy snacks.

Giving your cats treats at the same time will promote positive interaction while also showing your cat that they and the kitten are no different. 

Pet and praise your older cat at the same time as well. This act of positive reinforcement will reassure them that they are not being replaced. 

Encore has three tasty treat flavours – Mackerel Fillet, Whole Tuna Loin and Chicken Fillet With Rosemary – that are not only full of flavour, but are also completely natural, so you know your cats are getting nothing but the best.

If, even despite all your best efforts, your cats are continually fighting, it’s best keeping them apart until you can obtain professional help.

How to introduce a kitten to an older cat
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