Introducing a senior cat to a new kitten can be tricky. The difference in ages, energy levels, and physical conditions can create tension. But it doesn’t mean that your two cats will dislike each other forever.
Introducing your cats to one another the right way will build a strong foundation for their relationship. And there are ways of presenting your cats that will keep your older cat from becoming stressed, but you will have to prepare before you bring your new kitten into your home. We’ll take a look at the best way to introduce your cats to one another and what exactly you can do to make the transition as easy as possible.
Something to Think About First
As a cat owner, you’re probably aware that routine is vital to a cat. Introducing a kitten disturbs this routine and your senior cat’s established territory, which can be stressful. There are various ways your cat will show it is stressed, but some of them are not obvious. If you see any of the following signs1, your cat might be communicating how stressed it feels:
- Eating/drinking less
- Crouching and looking tense
- Excessive meowing
- Exaggerated swallowing/licking their nose
- Less tolerant of people
- Reluctant to use the litter box, the cat door, or sit with you
- Scratching the furniture
- Withdrawn/hiding more than usual
Hopefully, your cat won’t show any of these signs, but it’s always best to know what to look out for in case. Preparation is the key to a successful introduction when it comes to bringing a new cat to your home. Ensure you give your senior cat enough time to adjust to this change.
Consider Your Cat’s Health & Temperament
The first thing to consider is the health and temperament of your senior cat before you bring home a new kitten. Kittens are prone to respiratory diseases, and you should ensure that your senior cat’s immune system is ready to tackle whatever your kitten brings with them. Kittens are full of energy and will show they want to play indelicately, which can be stressful and painful for an older cat that can’t keep up.
The cat’s temperament will also play a significant role in your decision or at least how you introduce your cats to one another. Mild-tempered cats won’t mind the extra company as much, but if your cat has a temper, your kitten might get a bit of a feisty welcome. You, of course, know your cat best, and there’s no doubt you will make the best decision for your senior cat and new kitten.
Potential Benefits for Your Senior Cat
Kittens are full of energy, which might be the perfect motivation for your senior cat to get off the couch and join in the fun. Light exercise is vital for your senior cat, and playing with the kitten is the perfect way to add playtime into its day. This will also please the new kitten.
As your cat ages, it will likely experience some level of cognitive decline, and what better way to keep young than hanging around with someone young, right? For all those times that you’re out of the house for work or seeing friends, your kitten will now be there to keep them company. If your senior cat ever feels separation anxiety, this is the perfect solution.
How to Introduce Your Cats to One Another
So, we’ve talked about preparing for your kitten’s arrival, so how exactly do you do that?
Pheromones create a calm environment for a cat, and you could make great use of them in the weeks leading up to your kitten’s arrival. Sprays, diffusers, and wipes are all available and will help your cat feel relaxed without having to turn to drugs. Your veterinarian is a fantastic resource for recommending effective and safe calming supplements, so it’s worth checking with them before you try a pheromone product.
Prepare Your Home
You may be thinking about everything you need, but make sure the new food bowls, beds, and toys are placed in the house before the kitten arrives. That way, you’re not cramming too many new things into one day, and your senior cat can get used to these new items before the kitten comes into their life. This will also mean you’ll be less stressed on the day of arrival. If you are stressed, your cat will pick up on it.
Prepare a space for the new kitten for when they arrive, like a spare bedroom, where your kitten can spend the first week or so. Make sure your older cat can get to the door of this room, so they can hear and smell the kitten but not interact with them.
Cats are also easily stressed out when they can’t access necessities, like litter boxes or even you. You should have a litter box for each cat, plus an additional litter box, distributed throughout the house. Make sure you carve out some time for you and your senior cat, so they don’t feel left out.
Building a Bond
When it comes to your cats getting to know one another, you want to encourage play sessions to help them get along. But there’s a fine line between encouraging time together and forcing interactions. Let your kitten explore the house under your supervision, and allow your senior cat to observe their exploration or retreat.
A fun way to get them together is to give them treats at the same time from separate bowls. Your senior cat will want to interact with your kitten more if it associates it with positive things.
Your older cat might also establish boundaries with the kitten; try not to interfere when this happens. You’ll notice your senior cat hiss and swat at the kitten if the kitten does something they don’t like. This is normal, and as long as it doesn’t go beyond hissing and swatting, it’s perfectly fine.
At the end of the day, your senior cat and kitten might not become the best of friends, but most cats will accept and even occasionally appreciate another feline around. The trick is to be patient and avoid forcing them into one another’s space. If your senior cat is particularly aggressive with your kitten, speak to your vet for some advice.
Senior cats and kittens can get along. It can be stressful for an old cat to get used to the energy a kitten brings, and the change to its routine can undoubtedly be challenging. It’s essential to prepare before your kitten gets there and ensure you’re patient. Not only can your pets become friends, but it can also benefit your senior cat to have some company around the house!
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay, Pexels