This is a guest post by Annie Anderson of Meowkai.
Introducing a cuddly kitten into your household when you already have resident adult cats can be a challenging task; especially if your cats are used to having the run of the house (and really, what cat isn’t used to being the boss of the house?)
Here are some tips on how to introduce your new furry bundle into your household, without alienating your adult cats.
- Remember that your new kitten may be shy and a bit fearful at first; after all, he’s in new surroundings and doesn’t have mom by his side anymore. When you first bring him home, put him a separate room and let him explore at his own pace. Slowly, within a few days, let him explore the rest of the house, keeping the adult cats away for now. Your new friend has to get used to his surroundings before being introduced to other pets.
- Although everyone will want to hold the little fur ball, it’s important to limit handling him for the first few days while he gets to everyone and everything. Introduce one family member at a time, so he doesn’t get overwhelmed or scared.
- Make sure that your kitten has a steady supply of food and water. An automatic cat feeder is a great way to do this. You may also want to invest in a water fountain as well. Eventually, your cats may be eating and drinking out of the same dish, so you’ll have to make sure there is plenty of nutrition available. Cats are natural snackers and will make several trips to their food and water dish. You might find, though, that each cat likes his or her own food dish and water bowl, so you’ll have to be the judge when it comes to how they like to eat their food (don’t worry, they won’t have any trouble voicing their preference!)
- Once the kitten has gotten used to his new surroundings, it’s time to introduce him to your other cats. With the kitten in a secured room, bring your adult cat to the doorway and let him or her sniff around. Give your cat some space to look around and notice the kitten and carefully gauge his response. If he starts to growl or hiss, then take him away and try again in a few days. Repeat this process with each adult cat, if you have more than one.
- After a few days, let your kitten explore and sniff around; he will smell your other cats, and allow them to come into contact with your kitten. They will sniff each other, and there still be some growling and hissing on the part of your adult cats, but they will eventually get used to each other. They may never be the best of friends, but they will learn to tolerate the younger cat; as he grows, he will be seen as less of a threat to your cats.
- Never leave your adult cats alone with your kitten until you are confident that they will get along (no hissing, biting, attacking or growling). This may take several days or even weeks, so be patient.
- Kittens are extremely playful and they can make adult cats nervous. Introducing your adult cat to your kitten when he’s in a playful mood may not be the ideal time. Instead, try making the introductions just after kitty has woken from his nap, or when he’s tuckered out from a big play.
Make sure all meetings are supervised and that all of your pets are in a safe and comfortable environment.
Give your resident cats plenty of love and affection – let them know they are still adored and are not being replaced.
Take your adult cats to the vet before bringing your kitten home to make sure they are healthy and disease-free. The same rule applies to dogs as well.
While adult cats aren’t nearly as playful as kittens, try to engage them in some activity: chasing a laser, a toy mouse or plastic ball will help them relax and show them that they are still a cherished member of the family.
Dogs can get aggressive with kittens, and kittens can scratch a dog’s face if left unsupervised. Watch them carefully to make sure they play well together.
It may sound like a lot of work and trouble to introduce your new kitten into the household; but with a bit of advanced planning, time and patience, all of your pets will be living in harmony in no time. Remember that each of your pets have their own distinct personality, so keep this in mind when making introductions and getting everyone settled. At first, it may seem that your adult cats don’t have the patience for a rambunctious kitten; but you may find that after a few weeks, everything will get back to normal.
Annie is the founder of MeowKai, where she and her associates write about cat behavior, health issues, and tips and tricks on how to get your cat to behave! It concentrates on creating the best life for you and your cat so you can enjoy each other’s company and build that trust that is so important between pet and human.