Despite cats often being viewed as cold and hostile they are actually very territorial when it comes to their home and their owner. And there is often no more a confusing time for an old cat than the introduction of a new kitten in the home!
But it doesn’t have to be so difficult, and with the right steps you just might find that your old cat and new kitten can become purrfect pals. You’re setting up a great place for your new kitten, you’ve got them the best food and cat insurance - it’s time to get them acquainted with the old cat.
Keep them separated in the beginning
This is the most important thing: do not introduce your cat and kitten as soon as you bring the kitten home. Instead, keep the new kitten in a different part of the house, obviously providing it with food, water, a litter and bed. You can even put in the cat carrier and blanket that lined the carrier.
This period will allow the cats to get used to the idea of a new presence, as well as learning their smells and allowing the kitten to learn the smells of the home (which will make it more comfortable).
Allow them to know one another’s scent (& mix them)
Your cat and kitten have to know - and mingle - one’s scent to the other’s. A great way to do this is by petting your cat before petting the kitten (and vice versa). You can also take something from the cat’s bed and switch it with something from the kitten’s bed.
You should allow them to meet whilst separated
Your kitten and cat might not want to meet one another face-to-face, so instead you might want to introduce them through a partition or gate. This way the cats can meet but can back away and retreat if they begin to feel uncomfortable.
Your cats might not like each other at first, so if you witness some hostility like hissing then you might need to keep them apart from each other for a little bit longer, taking the same steps to ensure they can get more used to each other’s scents.
Provide them separate living spaces
Once you have introduced your cats face-to-face, they should still have their own personal space to retreat to if they become grumpy with one another.
Ensure that they have their own set of food and water bowls, trying to keep them separated or in a different part of the house (if possible!). They may eventually start sharing bowls, but this will be decided between them in their own time.
By providing separate living spaces, you will be providing a sense of comfort, control and independence in a way that will allow them to eventually become friends on their own terms.
Did we mention that cats are very territorial? Well, they are! And they need time to become comfortable in the presence of a new cat in their life. After all, your new kitten is coming into entirely new surroundings and your old cat is experiencing a new presence in what was already a comfortable home!
So, be patient with your cats: you know your old one well and you already adore your new kitten - you just have to give them the time to enjoy each other's company!