Introducing Kittens Of Different Ages
We all love our kittens. There may not be anything more adorable than a kitten, except for an older kitten or cat. Introducing cats of different ages is almost always a challenge, and kittens can be especially tricky when it comes to behavior and training issues. We know how good kittens are for bringing great energy to a new household. If you have an adult cat, a kitten can be easier to introduce than trying to introduce another adult. But what you mightn’t be prepared for is that a kitten can sometimes become too much for an older cat to deal with.
Here Are 7 Tips For Introducing Kittens Of Different Ages.
1. Give your cats an escape area or place to hide. If you have an older cat, you should have a place for them to get away from the kitten. Although if you live in a smaller house, finding a place where the cat can escape from the kitten can be more of a challenge.
2. Keeping your kitten busy is probably the best solution and one that experts recommend. Try to spend lots of time playing with your new kitten, keeping them occupied. As an added bonus, your other cat may be interested in playing and will want to join in.
4. Spay or neuter as soon as you can. If the new addition is displaying aggressive behavior like jumping on the other cat, the behavior might subside if you decide to neuter them.
5. Play with your kitten at night. As cats are most active at night, you can play with your kitten before you go to bed, and hopefully, they’ll have less energy to bother the older cat all night.
6. If you can, disperse the litter boxes. Put the litter boxes (assuming you have more than one box!) in different areas, see if you can hide a box, or put it in a place where the older cat might feel like they can get away from an energetic kitten.
7. Feed your cats right before bedtime. The ASPCA recommends feeding your cats before your bedtime if your cats (or kitten) are extremely active at night. The suggestion was that the cat (or kitten) would sleep after having a good meal. We, cat lovers, know that nothing is absolute in the cat world, so this can be worth doing to see if it’ll work for your cat (or kitten).
Bringing Home A Kitten To Meet Your Cat
How do you introduce a human to a new kitten? That’s quite easy: adopt a kitten, present the kitten, wait 10 seconds, then watch the human fall hopelessly in love.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said when introducing a kitten to an older cat. For all the many wonderful qualities that your cat possesses, they mightn’t be so generous when it comes to sharing their space. If your cat is older, the process could become quite delicate—as the older cat could be unnerved by a bouncy new roommate.
As a cat’s social structure is very different from ours—they’re solitary survivors and not pack animals. Although cats in nature may live in social groups, these are related groups of mothers and kittens. Cats are very territorial and are not innately programmed to accept other cats willingly into their territory.
If you’re thinking of adding a kitten to your family, follow these tips for introducing a kitten to a senior cat to ensure comfort (and hopefully, approval) of your older cat.
Considering Personality When Bringing Home A New Kitten
Many well-meaning cat owners automatically assume a kitten will be good company for an older kitty. However, cats aren’t like people or dogs, therefore many cats prefer to spend their golden years alone.
If you’re adopting a new kitten, try to choose from the most laid-back of the bunch. If you find a very rambunctious kitten, which most of them are, then introducing this bundle of energy to your geriatric cat mightn’t be a good idea. All the kitten will want will be to play while the older cat will just want to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
Preparing Your Home Before Introducing Cats To Each Other
Before bringing home your new kitten, you have some work to do. Keep in mind that cats don’t usually like sharing, so the first thing you should do is plan to double all of your cat supplies. Consider adding two more litter boxes, extra scratching posts, an additional cat bed, double the amount of cat toys, and a second set of food and water dishes in separate feeding areas.
Cats always enjoy vertical spaces. This can be to your advantage when introducing cats to each other. Experts say that vertical space is very important to cats, as they prefer to watch from above. You could think of it as having a tall condo for each cat. If you want to add additional spaces, consider having a cat window perch or some wall shelves. Although keep in mind that your older cat may have some trouble jumping and would prefer some lower lookout points.
You’ll also want to prepare a temporary room for your new addition that has everything that they’ll need, including cat food, water, cat litter, toys, a bed, a scratching post and a cat tree. Having a temporary place for the new kitten will help make the process easier as you slowly work to introduce them into your home.
First Week: Taking It Slow
When introducing a kitten to an older cat, slow and steady, is best to help everyone involved. When you first bring home a kitten, take them straight to their own room and close the door. Let the kitten and resident cat get familiar with each other’s scent first. They can do this even behind two different doors rather than meeting face to face. Once your cats seem more relaxed, exchange their beds so they can get acclimated to each other’s scent while still enjoying the comfort and safety of having their own space. During this introduction period, which should last about one week, schedule plenty of time to play with both cats in their respective territories.
You could also consider discussing holistic calming options with your veterinarian before introducing cats to kittens, including calming treats and feline pheromone diffusers.
Second Week: Making The Introduction
Experts recommend putting up a baby gate at the door to your kitten’s room and, while you supervise, allowing the two cats to meet through the gate. If there’re no signs of aggression, start allowing to have some interaction for 15 minutes while monitoring for any signs of stress or aggression. If all goes well, increase the number of supervised visits until your cat and kitten are relaxed, happy and ready to be proper buddies. If you start to sense some uneasiness, then simply reinstall the baby gate and work through the steps again.
Having a flat piece of cardboard nearby is also helpful while having face-to-face introductions in case a fight occurs. If things start to become too much, place the cardboard between the cats, AVOID using your hands to separate them, as cat bites aren’t pleasant.
Above all, remember to be patient—introducing cats to new kittens is a delicate process, and shouldn’t be rushed. For the best chance of being successful, you’re going to have to take your time.