An adult cat and a kitten by an icy window. Photography ©kozorog | Getty Images.

Introducing Kittens to Your Other Resident Cats

Introducing kittens to your other cats? Here are a few things to keep in mind to increase the likelihood that everyone gets along!
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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.

Cats are territorial

A cat and kitten sniffing each other.
When introducing kittens, remember that cats are territorial. Photography ©EEI_Tony | Getty Images.

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.

Prepare a quiet place

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.

Supervise when introducing kittens to your other cats

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.

Consider two kittens

Kittens are bundles of boundless energy, and having a buddy to play with will keep your kittens well-adjusted. Kitten play is how they teach each other good versus bad biting and play behaviors.

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!

One last tip when introducing kittens

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.

About the author

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.

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5 thoughts on “Introducing Kittens to Your Other Resident Cats”

  1. We have a neutered male who is trying to kill our latest adoptee. She was a stray and we started feeding her until we could catch her and have her spayed. She spent several days in a large dog crate in the middle of the living room where they could all get to know each other. We finally let her out and then the fighting began. She finally decided our bedroom and bathroom were hers and we set up her feeding station and litter box there. Its been two months, and the weather has been nice enough for us to let her outside. The male cat has decided he will try and kill or run her off. We also have 4 other cats that are in and out of the house. All are fixed. The oldest is 9, and the newbie is about 7 months. They have all been rescued off the streets or wandered in to us. I have always believed that your cats will find you, you do not need to go find one, unless you are pulled by some unseen force to a shelter to rescue there. I feel responsible for all of them.

    1. Hi there,

      We suggest speaking to a pro like a vet or behaviorist about this.
      Here are some other articles that might provide good insight:
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-training-introducing-new-cats-tips
      https://www.catster.com/kittens/introducing-kittens-to-your-other-resident-cats
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/how-to-introduce-new-cat-into-home
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-problems-tips-cats-aggressive-aggression
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-hissing-why-do-cats-hiss
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-growling-why-does-your-cat-growl-how-should-you-react
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/stop-cats-fighting
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-fight-cats-fighting-tips-how-to-stop-prevent-violence

      1. Thank you, I will give these a look. We spent the rest of this week monitoring them, and letting one in while the others were out etc. That seemed to work until today, when three of the residents were finally taking a nap on our bed. The new cat was out since we were in town. We let her in when we got home, and since she has claimed our bedroom as hers, that is where she goes. We were in the front room, and there was another huge fight. I think it was between her and the other female, and The big male thought he should join in until I got down the hallway, and he was going under the bed, and the new cat was going under the other side, and the other female went in the bathroom. My other male was kind of dazed and confused on the bed wondering what happened since he is a sound sleeper. At this point we are thinking about finding other homes for the big male, since he is kind of a bully, but I think we would still have the problem with the new female. WE have only been taking care of her for about three months, so we aren’t as attached, but she has really grown on us fast and hate to get rid of her too.

        1. So sorry to hear that! Yes, please take a look at our advice and please explore every option before rehoming. Please talk to a vet or behaviorist for the best advice on how to solve your issue.

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