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Introducing Your New Kitten To Your Cat: How To Prepare

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Kaitlyn is an award-winning freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the American Kennel Club, Betterpet, and more. As a lifelong pet lover, she is passionate about educating dog owners.

A new kitten is an exciting new addition for any family, but introducing your kitten to your resident cat will take some time. Bringing home a new kitten means preparing your people, space, and current cat for your new family member. Here, we’re sharing some tips to ease the introduction process and help your favorite felines become good friends.

1. Prepare for your new arrival

Before you bring your new kitten home, get your space ready for them. Start by placing new kitten’s supplies around your home to let your other cat know they’re going to have company. If you can, introduce new items that already have your new kitten’s scent on them, so your current cat starts to adjust to their new roommate. 

Allow your cat to smell these items but not use them. Though you likely already have some of these, it’s important to get your new kitten supplies of their own. Some items you’ll need:

  • Food bowl
  • Scratching post
  • Litter box
  • Cat bed
  • Collar
  • Toys

2. Gradually introduce new scents

The first meeting between your current cat and your new kitten should be through scent alone. Place your current cat in a separate, safe room behind closed doors before bringing your kitten home for the first time. Your kitten will enjoy the chance to explore their new environment (and pick up your current cat’s scent) without the involvement of other four-legged friends.

Next, put your new kitten in a spare bedroom and let your current cat explore. They’ll want to scent out the new kitten’s smell and will be curious about this new feline. Praise them by giving them treats or their favorite cat food during this process to create positive reinforcement.

3. Introduce your cats face-to-face with caution

The first time you introduce your cats face-to-face, you should put your new kitten safely secured behind a barrier. Whether it’s a pet carrier, a baby gate, or a screen door, your cats should be able to see each other but not get too close.

Adult cats or older cats who are territorial in nature might be initially haughty, grumpy, or even aloof. They may react with aggression or with hissing to show that this is their home.

Conversely, new kittens may be skittish and scared of your other cat and their new environment, which is why introducing them properly is so important. 

Remember to stay patient, as both cats will need time to get to know each other. Keep initial introductions short and end them as soon as you have cause to worry about a fight. The introduction process may take a week or even longer depending on your cat’s breed and how friendly they are

On the flipside, the introduction could go over super smoothly! Your cats may be curious and eager to meet each other, but initially, it’s best to proceed with caution.

4. Create separate spaces for alone time

After you introduce your new kitten and cat a few times, you should give them separate spaces for a while. Each kitty will need a safe space of their own away from the rest of the house. Cats need solitary time away from family members – four-legged and otherwise – where they can retreat and be left alone.

Your kitten’s space should include a litter tray, water bowls, and some toys for playtime. If you don’t have a lot of room, cat perches and condos are a perfect place for cats to retreat as they adapt to their new surroundings.

5. Supervise them during play and watch for warning signs

Never leave older cats around new kittens unintended. Even when you think they’re feeling at ease with each other, this can change in an instant. When they’re together, pay close attention to each feline’s body language to monitor how well they’re getting along. You’ll hear hissing and growling when cats feel threatened and fearful, and that’s your cue to separate the felines.

You’ll also want to watch for signs of anxiety in cats. Symptoms of anxiety and stress in cats can include:

  • Hiding
  • Being less active than usual
  • Destructive or aggressive behavior
  • Trembling 
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss

Your cat’s tail and ears will also give you clues as to how they’re feeling. A tucked tail reveals anxiety while a swishing or lashing tail shows fear and anger. Upright, relaxed ears show happiness while erect ears show alertness. 

6. Have plenty of treats and toys on hand

When your existing cat and your new cat begin living together, they may compete for your attention, as well as food, treats, and toys. To quell this competition, it’s important to introduce new treats and toys to them at the same time. 

Before you know it, they’ll begin playing and lining up for treats together. Normal feline playtime will include lots of pouncing and swatting, but if you begin to see warning signs of stress or aggression, take one cat to a separate room.

7. Be patient

If it seems like your cats will never get along, don’t be discouraged. The truth is it takes time for cats to get used to each other! Remember, progress isn’t linear – some days your cats will seem like good friends, and others they’ll seem like total enemies. The important thing is that you stay consistent with socialization practices and help your cats feel comfortable and safe along the way.

Even if you’re putting your best foot forward, your cat(s) may show behavioral problems like anxiety or aggression. Cats exhibit a whole slew of behaviors that are hard to understand, so when in doubt, speak with a veterinarian or a behavioral specialist to help your cats adjust to their new life together. 

While your cats learn to cohabitate, behavioral issues can arise and accidents can happen. Pumpkin’s cat insurance plans can help pay up to 90% on covered vet bills, so your cats can get the care they need now and furever.

*Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy.Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-license.

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