How to Introduce a Kitten to an Older Cat (2022)

Some planning must go into the process of introducing a kitten to an older cat. Friendly, single adult cats can have trouble adjusting to living with a new kitten. Often times the older cats will appear sad, reclusive, hiss a lot, and sometimes even stop eating if it isn't adjusting well to the new member of the family. These behaviors are because cats do not like change, especially when it involves their established territory. Introducing a kitten to an adult cat can cause a lot of stress in your household, but there are some things you can do to help make the introduction go more smoothly.

Preparation is the key to a successful introduction of a new kitten to your older cat. If you prepare your cat for the new arrival and make the changes seem less drastic, then it ismore likely to adapt to its new roommate. Give yourself (and your older cat) plenty of time to prepare for this adjustment with these steps.

Calm Your Older Cat

Pheromones are useful for creating a calm environment for any cat. The weeks before the arrival of a new kitten is a great time to make use of them. Diffusers, sprays, and wipes are all available and help your cat feel relaxed without the use of drugs. Try using pheromones for at least a few weeks before bringing home a kitten.

If you suspect your older cat will become stressed and anxious with a new kitten, consider nutritional supplements that are designed to calm a cat. These won’t drug your pet but will help it remain calm and relaxed. They typically work best if given a few weeks prior to the anticipated stressful event and can be continued after the new kitten arrives. The ingredients usually include L-theanine, Phellodendron, magnolia, whey or milk proteins, and other natural ingredients shown to be safe and effective for pets.

(Video) 5 Tips on Introducing a Kitten to an Older Cat

Get Your Home Ready

New items for your kitten, such as food bowls, beds, another litter box, and toys, should be placed in and around your home before the kitten comes home. Start putting these items in their new places about a week before the new arrival so your adult cat can smell them and get used to all the new things. If you can, try to include items that have the scent of the kitten on them already. Make sure you are ready for the kitten. If you are stressed out and unprepared, your older cat will be able to tell and be negatively affected by it.

Designate a small room, such as a bathroom, for your new kitten to retreat to and spend the first week or so in. Your older cat should be able to get to the door of this room in order to hear and smell them,but not have any interaction with the kitten. Place the kitten’s belongings in this room (such as a litter box and food bowls) along with a toy that belongs to your older cat.

Prepare Your Cat

Make sure your older cat is healthy. Added stress to an unhealthy cat will only make things worse and you want your cat not only mentally prepared for a new kitten but also physically ready to handle it. Take your cat in for a checkup with your vet to make sure it is healthy and that its vaccinations are current. Respiratory diseases are common in kittens and you’ll want your older cat’s immune system to be ready to tackle anything that comes into the house. If scratching or biting occurs between the cat and kitten, you’ll also want the rabies vaccine up to date to avoid any problems.

While older cats will occasionally take to a new kitten right away, they typically need a little time to adjust to the changes. Sometimes cats never fully accept a new kitten but will simply coexist, keeping to themselves away from the other cat in the house. You’ll want to make sure that no matter how your cat feels about the new kitten, that things stay peaceful and you have the best chance at creating a budding friendship from the start.

(Video) How To Introduce Your Cat to a New KITTEN!

Introduce Your Cat to the New Kitten

When you bring your kitten home, allow your cat to sniff it while the kitten is in a carrier or your arms. Go directly to the room previously designated and set up for your new kitten and allow the kitten to explore. The litter box, food bowls, bed, and some toys should all be easily accessible. Do not let your older cat have unsupervised access to the kitten.

At night, when you are not home, and whenever you are unable to supervise the kitten and your older cat, keep the kitten in its designated room with the door closed. As your cat gets curious, it may stick its paw under the door, sniff under the door, and listen to the kitten. Do this for about a week, depending on how your cat is acting with the changes. Don’t forget to provide a lot of attention to your older cat after playing with your kitten. It’ll need your attention and support and the scent of the kitten on your clothing will help it get used to the newcomer.

Encourage Time Together

After about a week, let your kitten explore the house under your watchful eye. Allow your older cat to observe this exploration and retreat if it wants to. Do not force interaction between your cat and kitten. If your cat has a favorite interactive toy, such as a feather wand or laser pointer, try playing with both cats at the same time. This will encourage mutual activity. You can also give them both treats at the same time and feed them at the same time from separate bowls. Be sure to leave enough space between the food bowls so your older cat does not feel threatened.

Encourage any positive interactions your older cat has with the kitten using praise, treats, and physical affection. You want your cat to associate the kitten with happy, positive things.

(Video) Introduce Cats & Kittens WITHOUT Separation/Isolation (Fastest Method!)

Allow Your Cat to Establish a Hierarchy

Cats need to have order and a new member in the home must know where it ranks. Your older cat may have a period of time when it tries to establish a hierarchy with the new kitten. Your older cat may hiss and swat at the kitten when the newcomer does something unfavorable. This is completely normal and as long as it is just hissing and swatting, do your best to not interfere. Your older cat is establishing its role as the dominant cat in the household and the kitten is being taught where its boundaries as the new cat are.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

Don't give up if the first encounters are not positive. Older cats can take time to acclimate to a younger cat. A common mistake is to rush the socialization between cats and then getting mad or frustrated when it doesn't work out. Keep calm and work in increments to bring the cats together. Try timing your interactions and slowly increasing the amount of time together. If your older cat is especially aggressive toward the new kitten, speak with your vet or a behavior specialist for tips.


How to Introduce a Kitten to an Older Cat? ›

Before your cat and kitten meet face-to-face, it's a good idea to introduce them to each other's scent. Use an old tea towel or similar for each cat. Stroke each cat with 'their' tea towel, paying special attention to their face and cheeks. Next, swap tea towels by offering the kitten's tea towel to your older cat.

How long will it take for cat to accept new kitten? ›

It takes most cats eight to 12 months to develop a friendship with a new cat. Although some cats certainly become close friends, others never do. Many cats who don't become buddies learn to avoid each other, but some cats fight when introduced and continue to do so until one of the cats must be re-homed.

What is the best way to introduce a kitten to an older cat? ›

  1. Start to prepare before the kitten arrives. ...
  2. Introduce your cats by smell first. ...
  3. Let them see each other. ...
  4. Support a calm, patient introduction. ...
  5. Give treats. ...
  6. Watch how your pets react. ...
  7. Keep to a schedule to minimise stress.
Sep 16, 2020

Will an older cat tolerate a kitten? ›

While older cats will occasionally take to a new kitten right away, they typically need a little time to adjust to the changes. Sometimes cats never fully accept a new kitten but will simply coexist, keeping to themselves away from the other cat in the house.

Should I let my cat hiss at the new kitten? ›

As long as they appear to be relaxed, allow them both out. Again, some hissing when they see each other is normal so don't be alarmed. Some light swatting is also common.

What do I do if my cat doesn't like my new kitten? ›

If either party appears aggressive, fearful or just unsure, don't force the interaction. Separate them again and continue with scent swapping. Cat and/or kitten may vary with their reactions; from curious to unconcerned, playful to nervous. Make sure both have plenty of space and the ability to retreat if necessary.

Is it better to have two cats of the same gender? ›

A male and a female may not get along better than a pair of the same sex. Sex simply isn't an accurate predictor of how well a pair of cats will get along. Instead, whether the cats are similar in temperament is more important. Cats that act the same are more likely to get along.

How do you tell if your cat will accept a kitten? ›

Adult cats will usually accept a new kitten much more easily than they will accept a new adult cat. Cats are territorial, and your cat may resent an adult feline intruder. If you're able to choose from a group of kittens, avoid a kitten that's hissing, growling or engaged in serious battle with his mates.

Where should kittens sleep at night? ›

Place a cardboard box on its side with a thick fleecy blanket inside so that the kitten has somewhere to hide if it feels a little shy or insecure. Position a padded washable cat bed in a quiet area away from the food, water and litter tray areas.

Do cats get jealous of a new kitten? ›

It may be the arrival of a new family member, such as a newborn baby or pet. Simple things like your cell phone, a video game, or a hobby can also be triggers. Poor socialization as a kitten may lead a cat to become codependent on you and display signs of jealousy at times.

What happens if you introduce cats too quickly? ›

Introducing too quickly with little preparation will often lead to cats feeling threatened and scared, which increases the chance of aggressive behaviour being shown. Once cats feel this way about each other, it can be extremely difficult to change their minds.

Are cats happier in pairs? ›

Pairs are Happier

Despite their independent natures, cats are social creatures that need companionship to thrive. Left alone, a cat can develop behavioral problems, and in some cases, even show signs of depression. Cats in bonded pairs, on the other hand, are more likely to be better adjusted.

Can two cats share a litter box? ›

If you own more than one cat, the golden rule of litterboxes should apply — one litter box for each cat plus one extra. Cats cannot share a litter box for two main reasons — behavioral and health — and they will be far happier and healthier when given their own litter box in their own private, quiet space.

Will my 1 year old cat accept a kitten? ›

While cats can live very happily together in the same household, they don't really 'need' other cats, and some may struggle to accept a new kitten. A few preparations ahead of your kitten's arrival and some carefully managed introductions should give your cats the best chance of getting on well in future.

Do cats get depressed when you get another cat? ›

Loss of a Loved One

This is usually only a temporary behavior and with some time your cat will return to normal. If your cat is depressed because another cat in the household has passed away, they may benefit from a new cat friend (or they may not). Be cautious in adding another housemate too soon to the family.

What I Wish I Knew Before getting a kitten? ›

What I wish I knew before getting a kitten
  • Kittens need a lot of attention. ...
  • Kittens teethe. ...
  • Kittens can be destructive. ...
  • Kittens will find and play with everything. ...
  • Kittens are expensive at first. ...
  • Kittens run. ...
  • Kittens will climb everything. ...
  • Kittens will climb on you.
Nov 13, 2020

What gender kitten should I get if I have a female cat? ›

Remember that they are only guidelines and that there may be exceptions to the rules. If you have an adult female who has been an "only" cat for some time, it is best to get a younger female. Males, even friendly ones, can over-power and frighten females.

Should I let my kitten roam the house at night? ›

Ideally, the right time to let your kitten roam the house at night is when it's already been litter trained and fully accustomed to its surroundings. There is no guaranteed time frame as getting your kitten settled in is a gradual process.

Is it OK to crate a kitten at night? ›

In general, a happy, healthy, well-adjusted kitty shouldn't need nightly crating. If your kitten or cat is having difficulty making proper use of its litter box, it might be best to keep your cat in a crate at night while you train her to use the litter box.

Should I ignore my kitten crying at night? ›

In conclusion, when your cat meows at night, you must ignore it completely and perfectly in order not to encourage the behaviour. Keeping the cat busy at night may prevent it from getting hungry or finding creative ways of getting your attention.

How do I get my cat to stop hissing at my kitten? ›

New kitten? Ask a vet anything — for free
  1. Older cats don't like change. ...
  2. They're territorial. ...
  3. They miss being the center of attention. ...
  4. Use pheromones. ...
  5. Try supplements. ...
  6. Prepare your home. ...
  7. Give your new cat their own space. ...
  8. Make sure your older cat is healthy (and vaccinated)
Oct 27, 2021

Why do my cats hate the new kitten? ›

Your current cat probably doesn't hate your new cat, she's probably just scared of him. If you already have one or more cats and you bring a new cat home, the reaction of your old (or resident cat or cats), may simply be to avoid the new cat.

Is hissing bad when introducing cats? ›

Don't be alarmed; it's normal for cats to hiss at something new or something they don't understand. Hissing is a distance-increasing behavior. Simply put, it's a warning saying, “Please back off, and do not come any closer.”

How do you get two cats to bond? ›

How to Get Two Cats to Get Along - YouTube

How do I know if my cat likes my new kitten? ›

How to tell if your cats get along with each other – six key behaviours to look for.
  1. They head-butt each other. Don't worry, not in an aggressive way! ...
  2. They groom each other. ...
  3. They snooze together. ...
  4. They touch noses. ...
  5. They hang out together. ...
  6. They have a rough and tumble.
Jul 31, 2018

How do I get my cat to stop hissing at my kitten? ›

New kitten? Ask a vet anything — for free
  1. Older cats don't like change. ...
  2. They're territorial. ...
  3. They miss being the center of attention. ...
  4. Use pheromones. ...
  5. Try supplements. ...
  6. Prepare your home. ...
  7. Give your new cat their own space. ...
  8. Make sure your older cat is healthy (and vaccinated)
Oct 27, 2021

Why is my cat hissing at the new kitten? ›

Territorial Aggression

Your cat might hiss at the new kitty to let him know that she is the dominant cat in the house. This is especially true when a new kitten is introduced; your existing cat will want to establish herself as the older cat to be respected by the new little one.


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