As most dog owners know, introducing two pups to one another can have amazing, if not hilarious results. However, there is a stigma associated with introducing cats, let alone kittens, to one another. We’re here today to break the stigma and set the record straight: it can be done, and it’s far easier than you may think…
So, how would one even begin to introduce a new kitten to their already settled King/Queen of the house?
Deciding on a kitten:
As kittens grow older, certain personality traits will begin to become apparent. The kitten you pick will have their own wants and wishes, as well as their own likes and dislikes. So, it makes sense to choose a forever-friend whose personality compliments your first forever-friend. Put simply, picking a playful kitten will surely aggravate an already settled cat, so you should choose a playful kitten for a playful settled cat!
Getting your kitten home:
After getting your new friend home, it’s wise to err on the side of caution. We normally recommend that you allow your new kitten to have the run of the place; keeping your settled cat separated for now. Once your kitten is used to your home, you can then start allowing your settled cat more freedom. If you’re feeling confident you can allow your kitten and cat to come into contact through a door. This gives your cat a chance to get familiar with your kitten’s new scent. It can also help to alternate the areas that your cat and kitten have access to, solidifying their familiarity with the other’s scent — this is a process formally known as scent transfer.
Gauge their progress safely:
If you have an old baby gate or a screen door, you can introduce the two cats to the point where they can see one another. This allows you to assess how they both react in the presence of the other. Should one of them react poorly, you can end the activity and allow them to settle. On the contrary, if they react positively you can allow them to greet one another properly; however we still recommend caution. You should continue this process until your settled cat either doesn’t mind the presence of your new kitten or until you can sense a positive air between the two.
Eat, pray, love:
Following on from the previous point, when you feel that your two cats have spent enough time being introduced, you can progress to allowing them to interact together. It’s preferable to do this with some form of common positive activity, like feeding, playing or giving treats; that way your cats will associate the other’s presence with a good thing, rather than a bad. Should things go awry, separate the two and allow them to cool off — it’s good practice to keep a barrier or cat crate close by for emergencies. After a few days of this, you should encourage play by using a prey-type toy like a feather or a rope. If all has gone well up to this point you should expect one of two things to happen: one, your settled cat doesn’t acknowledge the presence of your kitten, or two, they’re inseparable.
Vigilance is key:
While you may be patting yourself on the back and telling all your neighbours that you’re the cat whisperer, keeping a close eye on your cat’s interactions with one another and their behaviour alone is vital. A cat that is stressed will have trouble going to the toilet, groom themselves to the point of hair-loss and try to hide as much as possible. These tell-tale signs generally mean that your two cats aren’t getting along or perhaps are frightened by one another’s presence. This process can take a long, long time and patience, with yourself and with your cats, is absolutely key.
We hope that this, albeit short, guide is knowledge enough for you to get a kick-start on socialising your new friend with your old mate. As we’ve said, these things can take time and patience, but if you run into any trouble, you can always give us a call or drop us a line via email.
For now, cat-fans, we say ciao!