Cats are very territorial beings that care a lot about their personal space, environment, and habits they’ve got accustomed to. Therefore, any new situations going on around them and changes in the surroundings may put a lot of stress on them.
Adding anything out of the ordinary to their habitat has to be done with great attention and patience. This especially refers to the situation where you’re introducing a kitten to your older cat that might perceive the little one as an intruder and a threat to its firmly established daily routine and relationships within the house. In the following paragraphs, we’ll recommend you some widely-accepted methods to resolve this problem and make the introduction easier both on your pets and you.
Don’t hold your expectations too high
This certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily fail at integrating the new kitten into the life of the resident cat. If you actually follow the steps, you’re likely to be successful. However, you have to bear in mind that in most cases this process spreads over a few weeks.
The reason for this is that adult cats usually don’t like kittens and, as strange as it seems, can be more afraid of them than of their coevals. Cats up to 12 weeks old or even a bit older are still babies and aren’t familiar with the rules that govern the cat world.
At that stage of their lives, they’re pretty bold, intrusive and playful which is something that is not up to the tastes of the older feline that has already gotten far deep into the ‘’ways cats do things.’’ In other words, kittens are likely to bother the older cat by jumping on their heads while sleeping with the intention to play.
However, your older furry friend may not read this as a sign of ‘’play time’’ but rather as a threat, especially if they haven’t had experiences with baby cats. Then, your kitten might get hurt by the irritated resident cat due to the major difference in their physical strength. This is why vets and animal specialists recommend taking a cat of the same age as your resident cat because they already have developed personalities and behavioral patterns.
Safe room for the kitten
Under no circumstances should you try to familiarize your cats with each other the moment your new kitten gets into the house. This could leave both of them very distressed because, as it has already been mentioned, cats are not very good at taking in new situations in their environment rapidly. Moreover, the kitten might need some time to get accustomed to its new home. Therefore, you have to put it in a separate room where it will feel cozy and protected.
Provide the kitten with its own food container, toys, and beddings that will be in the room. Also, try to have some alone time with it. You need to create a bond between each other so that your kitten builds trust in you and shakes off the stress gradually. Remember that it may still be suffering because of the separation from its mother and other littermates, which is why you should be especially considerate to it.
Knowing each other by the scent
It goes without saying that scent is cats’ principal tool for perceiving the world. Therefore, having your cats get conscious of each other’s smell is imperative. There are numerous ways to do this. Take two towels and rub each of them onto the respective cats’ skin. Then leave the towels in the areas they mostly hang out in. By doing this you will add a new piece to their picture of the surroundings and will gradually get used to it.
If the older cat is upset too much with the new smell then you can mix your smell along with the kitten’s one by getting a towel rubbed both onto you and the kitty. A shirt you’ve been cuddling the kitty in can also be helpful. Just put it in front of the older cat and have it sniff the shirt. What you can also do is getting the resident cat into the kitten’s safe room.
While the old cat is roaming around, lock it in there for a few moments while the little one is investigating the other parts of your home where the older cat spent the most time in. Before you do this, baby-proof the environment so your kitty doesn’t end up hiding in some place where you can’t reach.
First visual contact
Getting used to the smell can last for a few days and even weeks depending on your cats’ reactions. Once you have the impression that they’re both ok with the new sensations, you can proceed to the next phase – having them see each other in person. First few sessions should last up to 10 minutes. The length depends a lot on the first reactions of the cats once they see each other.
If the older cat is hissing too much it is the best to have it see the kitten for just a few seconds While the kitten is in the crate, let the older cat in the safe room. It will probably go around and sniff around the cage and inspect the little one’s posture and overall behavior. Once it gets too angry halt the process and continues During the first visual contact, there shouldn’t be any physical contact whatsoever. It is still too early for that.
Gradually letting the ‘’free mingling’’
This step actually begins during the visual introduction. Have the 2 cats eat together. The kitten has to be in the cage and the older cat far away from it. As the resident cat is getting more and more comfortable try to bring its food container closer and closer to the cage until they are just a few feet away from each other. Once this goes well, you can go on to letting the kitten out of its cage.
You have to put their food containers far apart again so as to prevent any sudden reactions by the older cat due to the little one being let out. When you see them totally relaxed about being around each other, you can say you’ve overcome a big obstacle. Then you can have them be together for some time under your supervision. There will probably be a bit of hissing on the older cat’s part but as long as it is not prolonged it is ok. This is just a way it sets the rules and boundaries that the kitten still doesn’t know.
Don’t leave the cats unsupervised
Leaving your 2 felines unmonitored is too risky even after you’ve conducted a successful introduction. Sometimes the most tolerant cats can snap and turn to aggressive behavior. In this case, due to the great difference in strength, the kitten could get severely hurt. Baby cats just love wrestling and any sort of play fight which annoys older cats. They see them as their ‘’mock prey” on which they can practice hunting and that is definitely not the case.
Therefore, when introducing a kitten to an older cat, you might want to teach the little one how to play with stuffed animals of its size so its attention is averted from the older cat to something else. This way, you’ll save your kitten from the resident cat’s wrath.