There’s nothing more heartwarming than adopting a sweet, little kitten and watching him grow before your eyes. But as thrilling as it is for you, your other cats might not be as happy about it — at first, anyway. Preparation and patience are key to blending your growing cat clan. Here’s what you need to know about introducing kittens to your other cats.
If you already have cats, you know firsthand that cats are territorial creatures who do not enjoy changes in their environment. Part of this tendency is a throwback to their wild days when cats were hunted by other animals, and their food sources and other resources were threatened by other neighboring cats. Introducing kittens is hard because a new kitten is seen as an interloper by your cats, and a potential threat to their food and napping places.
Don’t be surprised to hear hisses when introducing kittens to your other cats. My friend Linda recently brought home a new kitten named Paws. While there were no hisses from her adult cat, Kizzy, he did give Paws a smack on the head to let him know who’s boss. Now they are cuddle and play buddies.
Once you get your new kittens home, they may feel overwhelmed and scared, and they may try to hide under a bed. After all, they’re in a new place with strange people and new sights, sounds and smells. The sight of your other cats may also scare them, especially if they’re hissing at the newbies.
Start the kittens off in a small room, such as a bathroom, where you can visit with them and they can’t hide. Bring toys and treats, talk in soothing tones, and let them adjust to their surroundings and feel comfortable with you before you let them explore the whole house. This could take a few hours or several days. Don’t let adult cats near the kittens at this point.
You may begin to notice your kittens and cats playing footsie under the door to the kitten’s quiet room. This is a good sign that introduction time has arrived! Begin introducing kittens to your other kitties with short supervised sessions, where you hold the kittens and let the adults come over to meet them.
Nose touches are a good sign! You may hear a hiss or two, or you may get lucky. When I brought Simon home, Boo-Boo kitty demanded to meet him immediately, and right away they started chasing each other up and down the hallway. Instant pals!
Until your cats get along well with the kittens with no hisses or threats, have them together only when supervised. Be patient. It takes time for everyone to adjust and establish the cat pecking order in the household.
Having kitten buddies to roughhouse with one another will enable them to use those natural play behaviors on one another instead of on you or your other older cats. Your fingers and toes will thank you!
Spoil your new kittens, but also give your current cats time with you, too. Otherwise, jealousy and behavior issues may pop up. Soon cats and kitten(s) will become buddies with one another, and you’ll have one happy crew.
Thumbnail: Photography ©kozorog | Getty Images.
Devoting her entire life to cats, Rita Reimers is founding owner of JFCATS.com, a feline health and wellness company. JF CATS has been providing cat behavior services and cats-only pet-sitting for the last 15 years. Rita and her business partner, Linda Hall, are also starting a line of USA-made cat toys and bedding called Gracie & Esther. You can reach Rita directly on Facebook and Twitter @TheCatAnalyst and on Instagram @RitaReimersTheCatAnalyst.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.