Bringing home baby - Introducing a Kitten to your Resident Cat
If you are anything like me, there is nothing better than a house full of cats and kitten season is completely irresistible. I get to be a hero rescuer and bring home a new puff ball of kitten awesomeness?!?!?? What could be better?!?
Well….there are a few things to consider before bringing a new kitten home to your resident cat.
1- Your resident cat might never forgive you or accept this new kitty into his/her home. Cats’ social structure is very different than ours. Cats are solitary survivors, not pack animals. Cats in nature may live in social groups, but these are related groups of mothers and kittens. Cats are very territorial, and are not innately programed to accept new cats into their territory.
2- No matter how hard you try to do everything right, It might not work. About 50% of all new cat introductions to resident cats fail. This is upsetting and frustrating - when all you wanted was for your cat to have a friend.
3- For the best chance of success, you are going to have to take your time.
Still want to try? Ok. Here are the slow and steady steps to a positive new kitten introduction.
Before you bring home your new kitten
- Prepare a kitten room with a litter box, water, hunting feeders/food, beds, climbing tree and a scratching post. This room should have a door that shuts and holds.
The Big Day
- When you bring your new kitten home, go straight to the kitten room and shut the door. Make sure to schedule adequate time every day to hang out with, and play with your kitten, as well as the resident cats.
- Let your new kitten and the resident cats sniff each other and interact with each other under the door.
- Once your cats are relaxing and acclimating to the new smells and sounds of each other, you can go to the next step. You can exchange beds between the kitten and the resident cats to make sure everyone gets lots of opportunity to smell each other and have their scents co-mingle.
- This is as far as you should go for about a week or more – until there is only positive interaction and no stress around the door
After a week or so
- Put up a baby gate at the door to your kitten room. When all cats are relaxed, open the door and allow them to interact through the gate. If there are no signs of aggression, you can allow them to interact for 15- 20 min at a time while you supervise, and then shut the door. If there are signs of aggression, close the door and give it a few days before trying again.
- Gradually increase the supervised visits until all cats are relaxed and happy. This should occur over a few weeks.
- Remove the baby gate and allow the cats to co-mingle when you are supervising. If there are signs of aggression, go back to step one.
Really think about bringing a new kitten into your resident cat’s life. You might get lucky and create feline bliss, but there is a 50/50 chance that your resident cat will prefer to be alone.