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How to Introduce a Kitten to a Cat (10 Must-Know Tips)

Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for any cat owner, but if you already have a cat at home, you’ll need to think carefully about how to introduce them to their new furry friend.

Follow our 10 must-know tips to make sure that those initial meetings go without a hitch. Before you know it, your cat and kitten will be more than happy to spend time in each other’s company. They may even become the best of friends!

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1. Create a safe space for your new kitten

kitten lying_Suakabkaew Tiger, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Suakabkaew Tiger, Shutterstock

Before you even bring your new kitten home, make sure you have a dedicated space for them in your house. This needs to be somewhere that you can shut off and that your existing cat won’t have access to. Choose somewhere that your cat doesn’t spend much time, like a spare room. Your kitten needs to have somewhere that they can feel safe to sleep and get used to their new home without being overwhelmed.

Make sure your kitten’s new zone has everything that they need to stay comfortable. You’ll need to include:
  • Cat bed
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter box
  • Toys
  • Scratching posts
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2. Take your kitten for a vet check

Veterinarian examining a kitten_didesign021_shutterstock
Image Credit: didesign021, Shutterstock

Next is booking a health check with your vet. Don’t start introductions between your cat and kitten until you’ve been given the all-clear from the vet. They may want to vaccinate your kitten or treat them for parasites and fleas before allowing them to mix with your cat.

Also, make sure to ask your vet about the appropriate time to spay or neuter your kitten.

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3. Start with scent

kittens playing_Mariamichelle, Pixabay
Image credit: Mariamichelle, Pixabay

Cats can be territorial, so it will take your existing cat time to get used to sharing their territory with another cat. The best way to start this process is before you even allow your cat to meet the new kitten eye-to-eye. Cats use pheromones as scent markers, so the first step in introducing your cat and kitten is to allow them to get used to each other’s scent.

After your kitten has been home a few days and has had all their health checks, place a fleece blanket, cat bed, or another soft item in their room. Do the same with your cat. This item will become impregnated with the scent of each cat. After a few days, swap the items between the cat and kitten. All you need to do is place it in the room and allow your cat or kitten to investigate it in their own time. Don’t be tempted to put the item in their bed and expect them to want to sleep in it, as first, they need to become familiar with the scent of each other.

If either cat has an extreme reaction to the item, like hissing, keep repeating this process and swapping the items between rooms until your cat and kitten are less reactive. You can also use pheromone diffusers to help your cat and kitten feel less anxious.

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4. Allow the cat and kitten to see each other

cats playing_birgl_Pixabay
Image Credit; birgl, Pixabay

Once your cat and kitten are used to each other’s scent, it’s time for their first face-to-face meeting! Aim to keep this short and sweet. You could install a plastic screen in a door frame so they can see each other but not yet interact.

The goal here is to simply let each cat observe each other for a short amount of time. Depending on their personalities, they may be instantly curious or fearful. Watch both cat’s reactions closely, and don’t move onto the next stage until they seem comfortable seeing each other.

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5. Introduce short meetings

cat and kitten playing_Wanda_Lizm, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Wanda_Lizm, Shutterstock

Once your cat and kitten have got used to the sight of each other, it’s time to allow a closer face-to-face meeting. Again, keep the first meetings short, and watch both cat and kitten for any signs of stress or aggression. Older cats can take longer to come around to the idea of accepting a new kitten into their home, so this stage may take time.

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6. Feed your cat and kitten together

Cat and kitten together eating cat food
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

As your cat and kitten get used to spending short amounts of time together, you can start feeding them in the same room. This is a good way to get them used to spending time together doing something pleasurable: eating!

Place the food bowls somewhere that your cat and kitten can see each other, but not so close that one cat or kitten is tempted to eat the food from the other bowl! Keep these short meetings supervised, and allow your cat and kitten to go back to their own spaces once they’ve finished their food. If they want to interact at this point, that’s great! Just make sure you stay with them as they get to know each other.

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7. Watch for signs of stress

mother and kitten_ vargazs_Pixabay
Image Credit: vargazs, Pixabay

As your cat and kitten get used to spending more time together, keep an eye on their behavior. Warning signs that you need to go back a few steps include:

  • Urination in inappropriate places
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Aggression
  • Abnormal grooming

If you’re concerned, speak to your vet, and ask them if there’s anything else that you can do to reduce the stress or anxiety in either or both cats. You may find that your cat and kitten will start to try and work out where the boundaries with each other are. They may play fight, spend time pouncing on each other, or compete for their toys.

Watch that none of these interactions escalate into violence. Hissing and puffing up their fur is an indication that your cats may start fighting, so at this point, end the interaction and allow them both to go back to their own safe spaces before trying again later.

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8. Offer plenty of treats

Cat eating chicken_Mcability, pixabay
Image Credit: Mcability, pixabay

Treats almost always help! Make sure you have enough for both cats. When you see them interacting nicely with each other, offer a treat to help reinforce this positive behavior. If you’ve already been training your older cat using positive reinforcement methods, it’s a great idea to do the same with your kitten.

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9. Maintain a routine

feeding cats_Dora Zett_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

A routine can help both your cat and kitten feel more confident and secure about their day-to-day life. Try to schedule things like meal times, and stick to a routine with meetings between your cat and kitten. They’ll both need time to relax on their own after meetings, so make sure you let them have plenty of time to do so. Keeping to a routine can also help minimize stress.

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10. Stay patient!

cat_ Ling_Chen, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ling_Chen, Shutterstock

Introducing a new kitten to your cat can feel like a big step, and it’s true that you need to prepare in order to make this a success. But with a little planning and patience, you can look forward to spending time with both your cat and kitten as they get to know each other.

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Featured Image Credit: Gosha Georgiev, shutterstock

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