52–55 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten
How to Introduce a New Cat to Your Resident Feline
How you handle the introduction of a new cat can make or break the relationship the two cats you have, so it's crucial that you plan and execute the introduction in a way that keeps the tension as low as possible.
First, create a sanctuary room for the new cat. Make sure it has everything he needs--food, water, litter box, toys, and soft places to sleep. Keep the door to the sanctuary room closed. When you bring the new cat home, bring him right to the sanctuary room. Set the carrier in the corner and open the door. The new cat will explore when he's ready.
Leave the sanctuary room and pay attention to your resident cat. Play with her, pet her, and maybe give a treat. She may not show much interest in anything but what's behind the closed door, though. Don't be alarmed if she hisses and growls. Pay lots of attention to the resident cat, but don't be clingy about it. Let her get used to the idea of a newcomer.
When you go to visit the new cat, try to do so when your resident is eating, sleeping, or in another room.
The next step is a scent exchange. Take a pair of socks and rub one on the newcomer, being sure to get the sides of the head and along the mouth. Then leave that sock in the resident cat's territory. Take the other sock and rub it on the resident cat and leave it in the newcomer's territory. When that's going well, do a “room exchange” - let the resident explore the newcomer's room and the newcomer explore the resident's territory. Do this a couple of times a day for about a week.
If this is going well, open the door and let the two cats meet each other face to face. Be sure to have some toys and play with both of them so that the introduction is associated with something fun. If either cat gets really aggressive, you'll have to back up and go to closed-room exchanges.
Once the cats are sharing the house, be sure to have two litter boxes in two different places, not next to each other. Make sure there's enough territory for both cats --extra window perches, beds, food bowls, and the like-- so that the two cats don't have to share until they feel really comfortable with each other.
Advice from Other Cat Owners
Before You Adopt That Kitten
Before you bring that cute kitten home, please take a good look at your life and ask yourself some questions, particularly if you are young (the highest demographic for pet surrenderers is females, age 18-25).
Remember, cats live for 15-20 years and will need regular vet care for their whole life. Ask yourself, what will I do when I move? Am I willing to go the extra mile to find pet-friendly housing and take the cats along? (Even if your job sends you across the country or into another).
What will I do when I get married? What if my spouse is allergic to the cats, has big unfriendly dogs, or just doesn't like cats? How will I deal with that? What happens when I start having children? Will I be willing to help the cats make that transition during that busy and exciting time in my life? Will I be willing to keep them seperate if my baby is allergic? What happens if I get divorced? (Statistics say that you will). Will I fight to keep my pets during this personal crisis?
These questions may sound ridiculous, but I assure you they are not. The answers to these questions mean the difference between life and death every day- to the tune of 20 million 'No' answers a year (the number of animals surrendered to shelters across the U.S. in a year). It is a big commitment folks, think about it!
~Alex K., owner of Breed Unknown
Introducing Your New Kitten to Your Older Cat
Kittens will most likely get along great because they are so young, although it may take a day or two. My two cats were about 10 months when I brought home two kittens and it didn't go smoothly at all. The young kittens were excited to meet the older cats but the older cats were petrified of them.
What I learned is that cats react to smell and it's best to introduce them that way first. The advice from a cat expert was: keep them separate and give them each something that smells of the other one (towel/blanket etc). Once that goes well, then introduce them physically. It was fascinating because when I presented my cats with the towel smelling like the new kittens, the cats hissed and swatted at it, then ran in fear. Eventually they started to investigate it. You may not need this step but I wanted to share it just in case.
~Cindy W., owner of Breed Unknown