There are few things in this world as cute and exciting as a new kitten. Well, maybe to you, but maybe not to your cat who has been running the show since you originally brought them home. Kittens are curious, mischievous, and playful. They are often keen on getting to know everything and everyone in a new place. While they may be excited about their new home, it is important to realize the stress that they may have on your older cat (or cats) in the house. We’ve compiled a list of important kitten introduction do’s and don’ts to help you prepare everyone for the new kitten’s arrival.
When you first bring your kitten home, you will want to be sure you have a separate room or space that you can keep your kitten and cat away from each other. Take this time to make a cozy little haven for your kitten where they can relax and play comfortably. This will allow your older cat to sniff at them occasionally through a closed door.
Take some time to let your kitten explore the house, especially in the areas that your older cat has been. While your kitten gets to do some sniffing around, let your older cat hang out in the kitten's room with the door closed. This will help your older cat be more familiar with their smell.
3. DO plan for supervised visits
When both you and your cats are ready, plan a few supervised visits with plenty of toys available. You will want to be sure you watch how both your kitten and cat interact with each other. Some play fighting is okay but be cautious of aggressive behavior.
4. DO provide treats
Treats are a great way to distract both of your cats. They are also a great way to get them comfortable being in close quarters. Use treats as a reward for both your kitten and older cat when they behave nicely towards each other.
Forcing an introduction between a new kitten and an older cat is never a good idea. You will not know how either cat will react. One of them may seriously hurt the other, which could result in an emergency trip to the vet.
If more aggressive behavior does arise, you may think discipline is the only way to stop it before it continues. Cats often don’t respond well to discipline when it is done incorrectly, and it may cause them to feel even more distressed. Instead, distraction with toys or treats is always the best course of action before separating each of them and trying to safely reintroduce them.
3. DON’T take away hiding places from your cat
You may think that less places to hide means your cats will get comfortable with each other faster. Taking away hiding spots is like forcing your older cat and kitten to interact. In fact, having hiding spots for both cats is extremely beneficial and allows your cats to have safe places to establish boundaries from one another.
4. DON’T introduce a sick kitten to your older cat
You should always be sure you are only introducing a healthy kitten to a healthy older cat. This will ensure that things, such as eye infections, are not spread to each other. A visit to the vet’s office for both the new kitten and older cat should be done prior to any introductions to avoid compromising the other's health.
Patience is the key when introducing a new kitten and older cat. Be sure you have the time to allow a smooth, slow introduction. Both cats should adjust to one another’s company after a week or more. Keep in mind that each cat may get used to their new family member differently, so it is important to allow for flexibility in your schedule if more time is needed.
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