Many of our kittens go to homes with existing pets. We are often asked how to best handle introducing a new kitten. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to give advice that will work in all cases and for that reason we want all our customers to feel free to call us if they have any concerns during the introduction time that we don't cover in this article. Here are some tips based on past experiences, but each transition will go a little differently.
It is pretty standard for our kittens to become very close friends very quickly with dogs. We are always amazed by this, since our kittens have never had any contact with dogs at our home. It is always wise to introduce your kitten slowly to your dog. Let them see each other and smell each other through a pet gate or with you there holding the kitten as protection. You will be able to judge from the first meeting whether there needs to be a strict separation for a while or if they can coexist immediately. We usually recommend only allowing them contact with each other while you are present for the first few days so you can see how they are doing with each other. When you are gone from home you can put the kitten in a separate room with their litter so they have a safe space. Once you are sure that both the kitten and dog are comfortable, you can start allowing them time together when you aren't home.
Most of the time older cats are not initially happy about a new kitten, but occasionally a kitten and cat are best friend immediately. In the majority of cases there is a little adjustment time while the kitten and cat are getting to know each other. The length of this transition is dependent on the personalities involved. We always recommend that our customers be prepared for this transition time. We recommend having a room for your kitten with litter and food where you can let your kitten slowly get comfortable with their new home. Give the kitten some time in this space to smell around and learn about their new environment. At the same time, give your existing cat something that smells like the new kitten (i.e. the carrier the kitten came home in or a toy the kitten has played with). After both have had time to become comfortable with the new smells, introduce the cat and kitten. We often have a toy handy to play with them together. It is very common for there to be some growling or hissing at first. Even a little swatting if the kitten gets too close can be normal. This is how cats learn to get along and should not be punished. The existing cat and kitten need a little time to figure each other out (are they a threat or friend?). If there is a full out attack separate them right away, but otherwise give them time to meet each other, growling and hissing and all. After some time has passed, separate them again. Make sure to spend normal amounts of time with your existing cat so they don't feel pushed out by the kitten. For the first few days, keep them separate when you are away and allow them time together when you can be with them. Once you are sure they are mostly getting along, allow them more and more time together. It is often very helpful for them to have play time together and eating time together. Also make sure that each has snuggle/cuddle time and even try to do snuggle/cuddle time at the same time so they can hear each other purr and be relaxed around each other. It is common for cats to develop a hierarchy that we often do not understand. If you see your cat biting the kitten's neck while on top of them, this is what is going on. A dominate cat will often make a kitten feel unwelcome sharing your lap or sleeping on your bed. If you notice this there are many tips I can give to help, so feel free to email and ask for advice. Return to the Library index...