How to introduce your cat to a new kitten
How to introduce your cat to a new kitten
The interesting thing about cats is that we know so much about them, but there is always an element of mystery surrounding their behavior. That makes things interesting! Take, for example, a situation where you want to introduce a new kitten into a home where you already have an established cat, and that cat feels like he or she is the master of the realm.
Very often the cat will happily accept a new kitten, but just as often there may be a war. Some cats have a much stronger sense of territoriality than others and will feel threatened by a new cat. Others don’t mind sharing living space with a new feline companion at all.
Whatever the case may be, if you’re looking to introduce a new kitten into your household, it’s wise to do it the right way to prevent what could turn into a never-ending turf battle and a horrible situation where your old cat never does not accept the new kitten.
It’s up to you to set the tone of the introduction and make it a non-threatening situation. So you may want to start by placing the new kitten in a sort of “safe room” complete with its own litter box, food, water bed to sleep on, and so on. Do not allow your established cat to have free access to this room.
Have no doubt that your older cat will focus like a laser beam on this room. He or she will sniffle under the door, there may be a little hissing, and there may even be some fearful paws under the door! Do not worry. It’s normal. This will be a safe way for the cats to pick up each other’s scents, which is a very important identification marker for both of them. For a cat, smell is a big deal. They have to learn each other’s smell and get used to it.
Then watch for a random close encounter between the new kitten and the original cat. Let them sniff noses, maybe even give them some space to check each other out without touching. If fights break out, nip them in the bud and have each cat return to their respective corners or space.
It’s a good idea to get the cats to switch places. Place your older cat in the room where the new resident has set up shop, allowing the older cat to check out all the scents and presence of the new cat. The new cat will in turn increase the size of the original cat’s kingdom.
Eventually, you will have to get to the point where you can let the cats mix freely together. After a few days in separate rooms, take the plunge. You can make this much easier by associating the reward with them being together. This means feeding them both at the same time so that both cats associate “good times”, ie “tasty food”, with being together. You should probably feed them on separate plates so there’s no point in competing for the same food stash.
If you’re lucky, the two cats will get along pretty quickly. If you’re not, you just need to keep the observed together times longer by making them together as enjoyable as possible with food and play.
Many people notice that if you put two kittens in a situation against one established cat, it almost always goes smoother. The reasons are complex, but in general, an older cat can’t focus all its anger on just one object when there are two to look at.
Here’s an important point: cats are extremely sensitive to your emotional energy, body language, and tone. In short, you set the tone for how everyone feels. If you react with fear and act upset if the two cats fight, then you are making a big deal out of it and so the cats will think it is a big deal too.
Rather, be carefree. Adopt the calm demeanor of a supervisor. If the cats get into a bit of a hissy fit, don’t react so quickly as it won’t get too rough. Gently separate them, pet them and praise them in each other’s presence after they stop fighting.
Talk, talk, talk. The human voice has a definite and proven relaxing effect on animals of many species, including cats. A cat may not be able to understand exactly what you’re saying, but it will pick up on the tone of your voice and, shall we say, subconsciously understand how you want this situation to play out.
So patience, a gentle voice, a little judging for the first few days, some tasty kitty treats and soon everyone will be one big happy family, cats and humans living together in harmony.
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