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Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 10 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Introducing Kitten Two Cats Multi-cat

Most people will agree that it is risky to add an adult cat to a household with existing adult felines. While some people do manage to do this with little problem, it is extremely difficult to achieve successfully and impossible to predict the outcome of an introduction. Even if things seem to go well initially, they often break down with time and result in a disaster with severe in-fighting between the cats, depression and stress behaviours such as soiling in the house.

Kittens, however, are usually accepted by an existing adult cat eventually, even if it is reluctant to start with - the process just might take a couple of weeks. Particularly if the existing cat has been used to being a single pet for years, it may have become more "people-orientated" than "cat-orientated" and unlikely to welcome a new feline arrival. However, with extra care and attention, it is usually possible to induce the existing cat to accept the presence of a kitten and with any luck, the two might even become "friends".

Do

  • Try to allow the existing cat to get used to the kitten's scent before a direct introduction. This can be achieved by letting your cat sniff a blanket the kitten was sleeping on or even letting them sniff each other through the gap underneath a closed door.

  • Let the adult cat approach the kitten and supervise the interaction. Most adults will hiss and spit and may even swipe a paw at the inquisitive little intruder, who they regard as a pest. However, rest assured that most adults will not seriously attack a kitten.

  • Make a fuss of the existing cat, particularly if the kitten is around, to try and prevent jealousy in the older cat. This assures the older cat that it is still "No. 1" in your household.

  • Ignore the kitten (no matter how hard it is!) as much as possible whenever your older cat is around, again to reassure her that her position in the household is unchallenged by the arrival of the kitten.

  • Make sure there are adequate litter trays for all the cats (usually one per cat and often, one extra); a choice of beds and resting spaces, and also several feeding stations, to prevent fighting over resources.

Don't

  • Don't leave the kitten alone with your older cat initially. While it is rare for an adult cat to attack a kitten outright, it is safer always to supervise the interactions at first. Not only can you prevent your older cat from hurting your kitten, you can also prevent a kitten that is too boisterous and playful making a serious nuisance of itself with a sedate older cat.

  • At the same time, don't be over-protective of the kitten - aside from making sure that it is not under serious threat, it is best to let the cats sort things out between themselves. It is important for the kitten to learn to respect the older cat and an occasional spat is nothing to be concerned about.

  • Don't try to force the cats together, no matter how cute you think it would look for them to be "snuggled together". While some cats may become inseparable friends and eat, sleep and play together, more often than not, cats living in the same household simply learn to tolerate each other's presence and go about their own business, effectively ignoring the other cats.

In the wild, cats are solitary creatures and except during courtship and motherhood, they do not usually spend time with other cats. However, although multi-cat households are not what nature intended, if managed properly, all members can live in peace and harmony.

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Hi I have a 2 year old tabby cat desexed male and we got a rescue kitty tabby 3 months not yet desexed male. It's day three I know only early but my older cat is stalking him following him hissy growling chasing him and bitting him. I am supervising and he is doing it in front of us. My older cat won't leave the kitty alone. The kitty was shaking last round well after the event.Everyone very upset and unhappy at the moment including me. What should I do how do I teach my older cat that the kitten isn't prey to hunt
Chrissy - 10-Apr-17 @ 4:28 PM
@Kaqs - your cats will sort this out by themselves if they are young. They have to establish their own territory and this will hapepn with time. Roz.
R87 - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:41 PM
We had 2 kittens (one male one female ) around 3 months each, so we decided to get one more female almost the same age 3 months. Now these 2 females are not getting along well and the male if playful towards both females. The issue is one female hisses growls at the other and then runs away hides. The other one sometimes hisses back but ignore mostly not very active. What should I do to help resolve this problem, plus I make sure they eat together same bowl and also try to play with them together. Please let me know if this can be sorted
Kaqs - 6-Apr-17 @ 9:50 AM
@Linty - in cats homes they rub the scent of one cat on the kitten so it will take to her (this is when they want to sneak a kitten in and pass it off as the mothers), so this might work. Your older cat needs to know the younger one isn't a threat. If you have a glass door or pen you can put them either side (although I did this with my two cats and they still hate each other). Cats are solitary creatures really and don't often take to other cats invading their territory, kitten or not. It sounds like your older cat is very stressed with the situation - and this new relationship might not work out in the long run. Don't punish your older cat though, it's not its fault as it is just natural instinct kicking in. Patience is your only option here <3 Jenny.
Jen2B - 14-Mar-17 @ 2:29 PM
I have 2 cats who are sisters and nearly 3, I brought home a 7wk old kitten just 2 days ago and whilst I knew it wouldn't be plain sailing at first it's beyond what I thought!! One of the older cats is hissing, growling and looks like she'll attack the baby if given the chance...we haven't just put them all together asterrified of what could happen plus was advised by the vets not to put the wee one down to mix with them yet but to bring the wee one in in a box so they can't get to him for maybe an hour then the next day 2 and so on but the rest of the time keep the kitten away in another room but how is that fair or going to get them used to one another?!! The older one is also doing the same with her sister too but is proper attacking her it's a pure shame and the other one doesn't hit her back and she's stopped eating too!! I'm SO stressed can you offer ANY advice as it's breaking my heart I waited on this wed boy since before he was even born!! ??
Linty - 14-Mar-17 @ 9:57 AM
@lin - I had two cats that hated each other at first, they couldn't even be in the same room together without a big fight. While they were never best of mates, they did end up tolerating each other and sometimes slept close by each other. Once your cats have figured out each others' territory, they will co-exist. However, there were still a few fights between my cats (especially when simultaneously, one was trying to go out of the cat-flap as the other was trying to get in!) Sometimes, out of the blue they would have a bit of a fight until one submitted or ran away. Then sometimes they seemed to actually like each other. Unless cats are from the same family or have grown up from kittens together, they are not natural bed-fellows, but once they have established their own rules they will be OK :) Jane.
JED - 20-Dec-16 @ 2:45 PM
a stray had a litter of kittens in our spare bedroom and we kept her and one of the kittens both of whom we've had now for 18mths..we bought a rescue kitten home 2 weeks ago and both were really stressed and jumpy and hissing and growling also didnt eat for a day or so..this is all getting less as each day goes on but the new kitten had a scratch mark on his ear yesterday and although both older cats seem to be curiousof the new fella sometimes the hissing and growling really bothers me, I jjust wonder if they will ever get on
lin - 17-Dec-16 @ 6:32 PM
Rachel - Your Question:
Hi I have a 1 year old female tabby and just got a new kitten that is 6 weeks old my older cat just hisses and growls at the kitten I'm afraid she may hurt the kitten what should I do ? Please help

Our Response:
I'm sure they will sort the matter out in time. Taking the advice in the article will help. But it may be worth making sure any interaction is supervised until your kitten becomes physically stronger and able to defend itself. Your older cat being the established one will mark its territory and your kitten will eventually take heed. Don't force any interaction, and likewise only interfere if it is looking like there will be a fight and your younger cat may get harmed. Otherwise, your older cat will accommodate the younger eventually, it may just take a bit of time. Like people, some cats get on straight away and unfortunately others never do, even if they tolerate each other under the same roof. Let's hope your situation turns around and they become the best of pals.
SaferPets - 15-Nov-16 @ 10:34 AM
Hi I have a 1 year old female tabby and just got a new kitten that is 6 weeks old my older cat just hisses and growls at the kitten I'm afraid she may hurt the kitten what should I do ? Please help
Rachel - 14-Nov-16 @ 8:56 AM
I have 7 year old female named Flyer that is attacking a kitten we've had for 3 months now. We have two other cats a 12 yr old female Shea and a 5 year old male Sneakers. Shea and Sneakers just hiss at the kitten and move a long and don't attack the kitten. Sneakers and Flyer kind of don't like each other but don't fight anymore. When Flyer attacks the kitten its a cat fight. Flyer seems to be even stalking the kitten or over looking the kitten. They all have liter boxes, food, water. Flyer mainly sleeps in my room which is next to my brothers room where the kittens food,water and liter box is. I don't pay anymore attention to the kitten than Flyer. Flyer gets a lot of attention from me. I wonder if she's doing for dominance and or jealousy. Any ideas what to do?
Danky - 12-Nov-16 @ 7:19 AM
Hi I have 2 8yr old female catd and have just introduced a female kitten. How long before I can leave them in the she room as each other as I have to put them in the lounge of a night time.
anna - 25-Oct-16 @ 11:11 PM
Lovecats - Your Question:
Thats a good thing! Believe it or not your older puss is teaching the younger one how to hunt! The more they do it the more their scents are mixing too. Your older cat will be grooming the younger one in no time.

Our Response:
Thanks for your comments.
SaferPets - 9-Feb-16 @ 11:08 AM
Thats a good thing! Believe it or not your older puss is teaching the younger one how to hunt! The more they do it the more their scents are mixing too. Your older cat will be grooming the younger one in no time.
Lovecats - 8-Feb-16 @ 6:02 PM
Ckm - Your Question:
I have just brought in a new kitten and all ready had a 3 month kitten the older kitten keeps really going for her throat and tryed everything he knows not to do it as when I shout at him hes stop is there anything that I anything I can put on the younger kitten to stop the older one biting her I really dont want to get rid of either of them help!!

Our Response:
Leave them. They will sort it out between themselves as many generations of cats have done before them. Cats aren't easily trained, so no amount off showing the younger cat what not to do, or shouting at it will help at all. It will just frighten both cats and even possibly make the younger more aggressive (if you treat it with aggression). Cats are accustomed to this type of biting behaviour and can, even in play get quite rough with each other. Your older cat knows how to stick up for itself and it will either give the younger one a clout, or go and find somewhere to sit out of the yournger cats way. The fact that it is not reacting means that it is probably not that bothered and is aware it is a young cat just wanting to play. They are bright animals and should your older cat want to, it can deal with this sort of situation with no problem at all. All you have to do is make sure your older cat has an escape route. When cats are hemmed in together, they can often fight, therefore the more freedom they have, means the more they do not have to tolerate a situation if they do not wish to.
SaferPets - 19-Oct-15 @ 12:33 PM
I have just brought in a new kitten and all ready had a 3 month kitten the older kitten keeps really going for her throat and tryed everything he knows not to do it as when i shout at him hes stop is there anything that i anything i can put on the younger kitten to stop the older one biting her i really dont want to get rid of either of them help!!
Ckm - 18-Oct-15 @ 9:53 PM
I have two females and a pair of male cats. I miscalculated the time to get one of my males fixed since he is under a year old and my queen just had one kitten. The other three grew up together since they were kittens, so I never had an issue. Now that there is a new little one, they seem curious but not too preoccupied with the kitten. Reading this has helped me in having an idea in what to do with all of them getting along. :-)
riro - 27-Sep-14 @ 3:09 PM
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