While introducing a new kitten to the family dog can be rather straightforward, having her meet the resident adult feline can be another matter entirely!
Being pack animals, a dog will more readily accept a new kitten “into the fold” as a welcome addition to the family.
Cats on the other hand very much dislike a disruption in their routine and hate change!
The good news is, chances are high that your cat will accept the kitten, and may even begin enjoying the company of another feline in the house!
However, it will take some time to begin introducing a new kitten, because surprising your cat out-of-the-blue is asking for trouble!
How to Begin Introducing a New Kitten
Proceed Slowly: One of the best things you can do is to get your adult cat used to the smell of your kitten before they ever even lay eyes on each other.
While your new kitten spends her first several days to a week in her “safe room,” bring out one of her toys or blankets for your adult cat to investigate.
He may even be able to sense her presence in the room, if there is a gap underneath the door to the kitten’s room.
The scent of the new kitten may be upsetting to your cat. If he doesn’t like the kitten smell, or sees her moving on the other side of her safe room, he may hiss and run away.
Don’t scold or punish your cat for this behavior!
When introducing a new kitten, make sure you allow your cat to seek refuge for the “extreme trauma” you are subjecting him to, but also make sure you give him plenty of love and attention as well.
You can also try giving your cat some treats on his side of the door to the safe room. He may then start to realize that this new little stranger makes “good things happen.”
If there is a gap under the door, a 2-sided cat toy connected by a string is a great way for them to begin playing with each other as well—as one pulls, the other chases. They may even begin to play “footsies” together. This is a fun way to begin introducing a new kitten to your cat.
When Should I Begin Introducing a New Kitten to My Cat Face-to-Face?
You can’t keep your new kitten confined forever, so even if your cat hasn’t stopped hissing or growling at the newcomer under the door, he will have to face the music sometime with some “kitten immersion therapy.”
Bring the kitten out and place her on the floor in front of you, but not close to your cat.
To start introducing your new kitten, pet her or play gently, but keep it low-key. Your kitten may even notice your cat and want to run up to him and play!
Your cat is more likely to hiss and run than attack your kitten, although he may swat at her. Let him escape if he needs to.
He may decide to investigate and study her from afar. Keep bringing your kitten out for longer and longer periods of time, and eventually your cat will at least get used to her presence.
My Cat Still Hates My New Kitten!
Don’t try to force the issue.
If you feel your kitten needs more time to explore the house than your adult cat is comfortable with, you can try letting her out when you know your cat won’t come in contact with her.
It’s important to start introducing a new kitten to her new home just as much as to your resident cat.
You can begin these explorations when your cat is snoozing in an upstairs bedroom, for example.
Eventually though, do try to have them meet at least a few times a week.
If You Don’t Have a Separate Room for Your Kitten
If you live in a small apartment or have another situation where having your kitten closed off in a separate room isn’t practical, you can purchase a medium- to large-sized dog crate to keep her in when you are not around to supervise.
Keep in mind, this may be more immersion for your cat than is ideal, but it’s the next best thing to a safe room.
Also, you cannot keep your kitten confined all day long, and it can get very cramped and boring in a small confined area, so do make sure your new kitten gets out for supervised play as often as possible.
How Long Before They Will Play Together?
This depends entirely on the personalities of your cat and kitten, their ages, temperaments, and even genders can play a factor.
Keep in mind that after introducing a new kitten to your home, they may never become best friends or cuddle buddies. In many cases, they will grow to merely tolerate each other.
Less frequently, an adult cat can remain fearful or aggressive towards a new arrival long past several weeks. If this is the case for you, you may need to seek the help of a professional pet behaviorist to bring peace to the household.