How To Introduce a New Kitten To a Cat
As you can image I didn’t start out with six cats. That number grew over time. So I did some research and obviously have added a few cats to find the perfect solution for this!
So, how do you introduce a new kitten to a cat?
- Keep the kitten in a separate room
- Scent Exchange
- Interactions through a barrier
- Supervised Interactions
This process while not a lot of steps does take a bit of time and cannot be rushed. There is a lot of patience and work involved in this process but if done properly your cat and kittens will be best friends!
Don’t sweat it though! We will break down all the steps here, to set you up for success.
Introducing a new kitten to a cat
As excited as you will be brining home a new kitten to introduce them to the rest of your cats, beware!
Your cats are not as excited as you are about the new family member. At least not at first!
But with a little time and dedication on your part, introducing a new kitten to a cat can be a fun and exciting time.
Step 1: Keep the kitten in a separate room
The first step to bringing any new cat into your home, especially in the case of a kitten, is to give them their own room.
Just for the time being of course.
To prepare for this make sure you pick up a separate litter box and litter bag. You will also need to have a food and water bowl during this time since they cannot share with the other cats.
The kitten needs to be separated for a minimum of three days before you take ANY further action in these steps.
It is critical that you give your new cat time to adjust to its new home. While letting your own cats get used to their being new sounds and smells in the house. Just not quite sure what they are yet!
As much as you want to shower your new kitten with attention during this time, if you want a smooth introduction, I suggest you do the opposite. Spend a little amount of time with your new kitten, and instead, spend tons of time with your existing cat!
This way your current cat will be more reassured that he is safe and not feel as threatened when we begin to move forward with the introduction of a new cat.
Step 2: Cat Scent Exchange
So, what is the Cat Scent Exchange? This is technique used to introduce new cats into a household by transferring their smell via a towel, blanket or brush to your existing cats.
And let me tell you from years of experience and moving… this works amazing!
So, lets dive deeper into the cat scent exchange method.
As all cat owners know, cats love to place their scent on everything. From rubbing their faces against walls to the less cute spraying. Cats are driven by smell.
It is how they flag their territory, and why the cat scent exchange works so well in introducing a new cat to your home.
Now that roughly three days have gone by, we will start this method generally with a blanket or clean towel, as it is what I have found to be most effective. If your cat has a favorite blanket, then I suggest you use this since it will be familiar to him. Just make sure you send it through the washing machine first as it needs to be fresh and not have existing smells on it.
Once you have your blanket, pick up your new kitten and place him inside the blanket. Rub it against his cheeks softly from nose to ear. Do this several times while just holding the kitten in the towel or blanket.
This is done to transfer the scent glands in your cats’ cheeks onto the blanket, which is much better than their anal glands.
Now that your new cat smell is all over the blanket it is time to present it to your other cats.
I highly recommend not to force it on them. Just put it in a common area they like to hang out in and let them check it out.
Once your cat is now friends with the new kitten blanket it is time for the cat exchange to swing the other direction.
Repeat the same process that you did with the new kitten with your existing cat!
Take the blanket, use the same one. Pick up your veteran cat in the blanket and proceed to rub his cheeks against the blanket while you cuddle them.
After a good rub go present the blanket back to the kitten.
A note on this: I have NEVER had a kitten get upset, hiss or any other aggressive behavior towards the veteran cat blanket in this part. If you are doing this with a new adult cat you will probably have some aggressive display on this end as well from what I have seen.
Adult cats just don’t like new friends as easily.
How long does the cat scent exchange take?
The sad answer here is, as long as it needs to.
You need to repeat this process until you are very confident that there are no negative responses from your existing cats. These can include hissing, growling, smacking the blanket or defensive poses; such as dropped ears and a tucked tail.
There are tricks you can do to speed this process up though if it is taking over a week! So, keep reading if you have that stubborn cat that doesn’t want new friends.
Step 3: Cat Interactions through a barrier
So, now that your cats/kittens are friends with a blanket we are good to move forward. Now is the exciting time when your new kitten and cat get to see each other for the first time.
By this time, with luck, your cats have also had some doorway interactions. They have played with each other, or at least are aware of each other’s physical presence in some capacity. Now we are going to lift the veil though and let them say hi!
The easy way to do this method is with a baby gate. If you do not have one, do NOT buy one just for this. Just become the baby gate and sit in between the doorway so your cats are separated by you.
The plan here is for them to start interacting together. I find the easiest one to be with food.
Crack a can a wet food for each of your cats.
Your existing cat gets his first, on one side of the open door so he can see the new kitten.
Then provide the kitten a wet food on the opposite side of the door, still in eye shot of your existing cat.
You should be seated in the middle of the two, which hopefully will both start eating.
If a cat will eat, while another is visible this is a MASSIVE sign of trust and you are in good shape.
Continue this process until you achieve eating from both cats.
If at anytime during these interactions there is overly aggressive behavior, then that interaction is over, and you try again later. There is going to be some level of hissing or even swinging paws. That is normal at first. Just use your best judgement on if it was too aggressive. Baby steps are key here.
Bonus Tip: It helps if you provide extra attention to your existing cat. The new one, especially if it is a kitten, is going to be overly happy to have a new friend. So, give your existing cat extra pets, and talk him through the introduction. It can greatly reduce their stress level and speed up the process.
Step 4: Supervised Cat Interactions
Once the aggressive behavior is gone, or at a minimal level, you can begin deeper interactions by doing playtime with a feather toy. Or any toy which is easy to control via a rope or string.
Keep these interactions small at first. Five minutes per interaction several times a day. Then slowly increase this time as your cats get more and more familiar with each other.
Just keep in mind that there will probably be some power display that happens. Normally your existing cat will at some point really swat the new cat or kitten.
This is fine if there are NO CLAWS involved. If, however there were claws involved then you need to shift back to step 3!
And that’s it! Just keep repeating this process until your cats all become best friends! This process has worked for me on countless occasions as well as when we have moved apartments or houses! So I know it can work for you as well!
General Rules for Cat and Kitten Introductions
There are some general rules that I want to point out that apply to all introductions of a new kitten to an existing cat. While a lot of these seem obvious I want to point them out so that everyone can succeed with introducing a new cat to their existing one.
- Never leave your new kitten unattended with your existing cat until they have been supervised by you for hours with no issues.
- Always place your kitten or cat back inside his safe room no matter how little time you are away. Until you have finished step 4 successfully!
- Buy a new litter box, food and water dishes when you are adopting a new kitten or cat! Let them have things of their own.
- Don’t have your cats “share” things until they are good friends. This can build jealousy and cause fights. I have seen this first hand.
- Always preference your existing cat. As much fun as a new kitten is, your cat has been there for you for years. Don’t forget that.
- Be Patient! Introductions between two cats can take time. Do not rush this process or you will eventually have to start from step 1 when aggressive behaviors start.
There you go! You are all ready to introduce a new cat or kitten to your home. If you get stuck on any step I have designed this easy to follow infographic to help guide you through the introduction process! Please feel free to share it around!
How long does it take for cats to get used to each other? Introducing a new cat to another one generally takes between two weeks and a month. The time above is based on individual cat behaviors and personalities. As well as, how well you stick to the steps mentioned above.
How to introduce cats fast? If you are looking for introducing cats to each other quickly then you can do an accelerated scent exchange. During the cat scent exchange step leave your new cat quarantine room open so your existing cat can explore it. Pick up your new cat or kitten in a blanket, so they are not seen, and place them in your existing cats’ favorite room and shut the door. Give the new cat 15-30 minutes to get their scent in the room and then bring them back to their quarantine room. This will shave days to weeks off of a cat introduction! I introduced Piper to our other five cats in only one week!
How to introduce two cats when one is aggressive?
- Keep the non-aggressive cat in a separate room
- Scent Exchange
- Interactions through a barrier
- Supervised Interactions
With an aggressive cat there are no shortcuts, and this will take some time. Just make sure to give the aggressive cat a lot of reassure and pets. You can also supplement this with a Feliway diffuser to help ease any stress.