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Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 23 Aug 2020 | 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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I am about to adopt a new kitten. I have 2 cats who are roughly the same age that I rescued within months of each other. The OG cats tolerate each other. I am nervous about how they will react to a new kitten. We also moved house in January. They’ve acclimated pretty well, but I hope I don’t throw them off by adding a new kitten to the mix. I guess I am just venting, but if anyone has any advice, I’d love to see it.
Mom2kidsandcats - 23-Aug-20 @ 2:39 PM
I adopted a 3 year old from a cat orphanage (so i figured in the future she'd be good with other cats). Last week i adopted a kitten from the same place. I've been doing what all the blogs and websites say. I gave the kitten a safe room and occasionally I have been switching blankets for the cats so they can get used to each others scents. I have also been switching them into each others rooms. I also put a sock with the kittens scent under my olders cats food dish when she eats. The scent swapping phase has been going very well. I never got any growls or hisses from my older cat. Three days ago I decided to crack the door between the two kitties. The older one sat about a foot away while the kitten on the other side of the door was right in the crack. My older one let out a few grumbles and one hiss. Not bad I thought. So i did that for the next two days a few times a days, and again with the same outcome of a few growls and one hiss. My older cat never gets closer than a foot to the kittens door, but today I was leaving the kittens safe room and my older cat was sitting right in the door jam so while staying in the room I cracked the door and the kitten got close, they were almost nose to nose. However my older cat instantly hissed and swatted (the door was closed enough that no one got harmed). Any thoughts on what I can do to help my kitties get along??? I though it was going well!
jpecar - 23-Jul-20 @ 12:42 PM
I adopted a 3 year old from a cat orphanage (so i figured in the future she'd be good with other cats). Last week i adopted a kitten from the same place. I've been doing what all the blogs and websites say. I gave the kitten a safe room and occasionally I have been switching blankets for the cats so they can get used to each others scents. I have also been switching them into each others rooms. I also put a sock with the kittens scent under my olders cats food dish when she eats. The scent swapping phase has been going very well. I never got any growls or hisses from my older cat. Three days ago I decided to crack the door between the two kitties. The older one sat about a foot away while the kitten on the other side of the door was right in the crack. My older one let out a few grumbles and one hiss. Not bad I thought. So i did that for the next two days a few times a days, and again with the same outcome of a few growls and one hiss. My older cat never gets closer than a foot to the kittens door, but today I was leaving the kittens safe room and my older cat was sitting right in the door jam so while staying in the room I cracked the door and the kitten got close, they were almost nose to nose. However my older cat instantly hissed and swatted (the door was closed enough that no one got harmed). Any thoughts on what I can do to help my kitties get along??? I though it was going well!
jpecar - 22-Jul-20 @ 9:27 PM
We have a 6 year old female cat and now have a 4 month old male kitten. We got the kitten when he was 2 months and we kept him separate from our older cat for almost a full month. We now have the kitten out during the day with our older cat and put him in his own room at night. Our older cat is growling and hissing at him all of the time and there are usually a handful of swats at him throughout the day (where she is actually smacking him). She now is trying to sleep most of the day to avoid him completely. I am not sure what else I can do. We have been giving her so much love and attention to try to help her feel loved and safe but it has been a month of the kitties around each other and I see very little progress. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
CG - 10-Jun-20 @ 8:52 PM
How can you tell if the older cat is about to seriously attack the new kitten? my older cat currently huffs and angrily hisses and howls at the kitten I'm not sure if he's going to just swat her or seriously attack her.
LIA - 10-Jan-20 @ 8:30 AM
I have an 8 year old female cat, I recently brought home a 9 week old male kitten I rescued. The first day she hid in the closet and was ready to attack when I even checked up on her. Now she roams the house searching for the kitten. If she spots him she hisses, snarls, and lunges at him. She’s extremely aggressive towards him and I’m worried about ever leaving him alone with her.
KristalB - 20-Oct-19 @ 12:25 PM
Can anyone help...I have a 2 year old cat that has started "huffing" at me, she has never really been what I call a friendly cat, she was as a kitten but then at 6 months when she was let out it all changed, the huffing has gone on now for 4 weeks and I dont know what to do :-(
leslee1961 - 28-Aug-19 @ 12:04 PM
i have an eight year old female cat& i recently got a 3 month old kitten& my older cat keeps hissing and spitting and hitting this new kitten& the kitten doesn't seem to be scared but i'm afraid the older ones gonna attack the kitten?
gabby - 25-Jul-19 @ 12:09 PM
I had luck once by putting a little bit of butter on the new kittens back. Then the older cat naturally wanted to lick it off, and left its scent on the kitten in doing so. Cats are more likely to accept kittens they've marked with their scent. Try it! :)
Rae - 28-Apr-19 @ 6:49 PM
Hi I've just rescued a five month old male kitten from a family who could no longer look after him turtle to health reasons and I have a 6 yr old female cat and she keeps growling and spitting and won't even let us touch her at times but she hasn't gone for the kitten will this get better in time
Claire - 21-Feb-19 @ 8:54 AM
Our family has an older cat, maybe 14 years, and she can't get along with the kitten, almost 6 months. We crate the kitten when the older cat is there, but the older cat still hisses and growls. The kitten is becoming scared of the older one. I don't know what to try to get them to tolerate each other.
Mady - 12-Feb-19 @ 2:26 PM
I got a female kitten 8 weeks ago and my older cat of 12 years keeps hitting and swatting at the kitten. Ive tried everything but nothing seems to work. Im affraid if my older cat does not take to the kitten soon i may have to re-home the kitten wich i really dont want to do but im running out of options. Can anyone help?
zoey - 31-Jan-19 @ 3:28 PM
My cat had kittens four month ago and I kept a male kitten now the cat has had another litre will the four month old kitten be OK with the new born kittens?
Kickinkell - 26-Dec-18 @ 2:23 AM
I have a 7-8 month old kitten maybe little younger she’s a girl named Lena on January 1rst we are bringing a new 11 week old girl kitten home is Lena going to hate the new kitten ?
Tt - 19-Dec-18 @ 4:08 AM
We have a kitten now 6 months. Female. One of my other adult females keeps attacking her. This has been going on for months now. The kitten stays under the sofa unless we call her out. Tryed everything. Don't know what else to do.
Joni - 30-Nov-18 @ 1:51 PM
I have a 4 year old male cat and we got a 8 week old female kitten, at first our older cat would hiss and swat at her almost like putting her in her place and she would roll over acting submissive, this lasted about a week and a half. The following week everything has been fine, our male cat licks the female, they lay together they even share the same food bowl(even though theyhave their own) but, the last 3 nights we hear the kitten almost like a crying sound as if our male cat is hurting her and because she is so small(she's 11 weeks now)we run in there. There is no blood, our male's hair isn't standing up, or puffed up. But the female is wet around the neck and it has us worried. We wonder if the male doesn't realize how much bigger he is then her and he's just trying to play?! Please help cause I don't know what to do.
Sara - 26-Nov-18 @ 2:15 AM
My six month old female cat can’t get on with 12 week old kitten, she pins it down and grabs it and kicks with her back legs, sound distressing what can I do, my cat can’t leave the kitten alone
Steven - 28-Oct-18 @ 9:51 AM
We found and male kitten and brought him home Guess he was around 2 months He has been here 3 months My husband found and recused a kitten looks to be 7 to 8 weeks a female Now he (Sammy) seems to want to play but is rough and I’m scared he is going to hurt her (Fancy) Fancy screams and cries when he seems to be playing I separate them but Fancy continues to jump down and they are back at it Should I be concerned or just let them cat play fight — No blood or fur being pulled he just bites her around neck and holds her down and she growls and cries
Maggie - 18-Oct-18 @ 12:40 PM
We lost one of our cats to cancer 2 months ago and the other day we found a kitten abandoned and on her own in a rubbish tip.We brought her home and trying to get her to accept our other cats. Pumpkin is 11 years old and Olivia is 7 years old. Unfortunately we are not having much luck in getting the kitten to accept them. Olivia has tried by coming close and rolling over but Kiara hisses at her. I think Olivia suffered the most when Rico died and has been really missing him. Kiara sleeps with my daughter in her room and the others two with me. We have several litter trays but they seem to levitate to one. We have a lovely garden for them to play in and I look forward to that day. Can you help us?
Kas - 19-Sep-18 @ 5:07 PM
Hi I have 2 cats age 3 &8 just got a kitten my cats have met her and payed in same room without a problem but now 2 days on my 2 older cats won’t stay in or come near the house till it’s teatime this is really stressing meI feel like they’re being pushed out
Trish - 5-Aug-18 @ 10:41 AM
@Ronel - tbh cats don't like each other and much prefer to lead solitary lives. The kitten will be a stress to your older cat and even though it is young it has invaded her territory uninvited. The older cat is hissing for the younger to keep out of its way. You often find if you have two cats that don't like each other one of them will move out. I had the same, I had my older female cat and found a young feral male, I thought they would get on but the female hated him. They lived together for a year or so, but there were always fights if they ever crossed each other's paths in the house. There were terrible cat flap wars if one was trying to get in and the other trying to get out. Eventually, and sadly the male cat decided to find a new home and went of his own accord. Yours might get used to each other, they might not. Your older cat will be feeling territorial pushed out and defensive. But don't blame it if it gets angry or try to discipline it, you can't and it's only doing what cats do and defending its home from an interloper. Unfortunately, it doesn't see your kitten as cute - it sees it as a threat.
JudeB - 23-Jul-18 @ 3:05 PM
I have a 1 year old cat, that I rehomed from somebody (when she was 7 months old) because she was being abused by mother-cat. She fitted into our home just fine although a bit of a scardy cat and skittish at times. She is not an over-affectionate cat, but likes to be stroked and petted at times on her terms. She is also more of an outdoor cat than a indoor cat, although I do keep her in overnight. I got a baby kitten that is 11 weeks old now (9 weeks old when I got her). I kept her in a room on her own for the first few days, my older cat was sniffing around the door, laying in front of the door and eventually didn’t bother anymore. We let her into the room with the kitten in her cage and sniffed the kittens room and growled at her and left the room. I tried to mix their smells as far as possible. I have subsequent to all of this started letting the kitten out during daytime and when my 1 year old comes in from outside I would put her put her back in her room. I slowly started letting the kitten be around when my older cat comes in. It seems that my cat doesn’t like the kitten very much, because each time the kitten sees her she wants to jump at or play with her (older cat tried to swat her once and the other time chased and tried to swat her. My older cat growls at her or sometimes hisses and then either goes outside or goes and lies under the spare bedroom be, which is her safe place. I feed them totally separately. I find it very stressful when my older cat comes in at night, I always try and give her as much love as she would allow me and try and keep the kitten busy by playing with her so that she does not agitate my older cat too much. I really hope that my older cat will accept her eventually. I am totally stressed about the situation.
Ronel - 21-Jul-18 @ 9:02 AM
I have a 1 year old cat, that I rehomed from somebody (when she was 7 months old) because she was being abused by mother-cat. She fitted into our home just fine although a bit of a scardy cat and skittish at times. She is not an over-affectionate cat, but likes to be stroked and petted at times on her terms. She is also more of an outdoor cat than a indoor cat, although I do keep her in overnight. I got a baby kitten that is 11 weeks old now (9 weeks old when I got her). I kept her in a room on her own for the first few days, my older cat was sniffing around the door, laying in front of the door and eventually didn’t bother anymore. We let her into the room with the kitten in her cage and sniffed the kittens room and growled at her and left the room. I tried to mix their smells as far as possible. I have subsequent to all of this started letting the kitten out during daytime and when my 1 year old comes in from outside I would put her put her back in her room. I slowly started letting the kitten be around when my older cat comes in. It seems that my cat doesn’t like the kitten very much, because each time the kitten sees her she wants to jump at or play with her (older cat tried to swat her once and the other time chased and tried to swat her. My older cat growls at her or sometimes hisses and then either goes outside or goes and lies under the spare bedroom be, which is her safe place. I feed them totally separately. I find it very stressful when my older cat comes in at night, I always try and give her as much love as she would allow me and try and keep the kitten busy by playing with her so that she does not agitate my older cat too much. I really hope that my older cat will accept her eventually. I am totally stressed about the situation.
Ronel - 21-Jul-18 @ 8:14 AM
@Chrissy, did you solved the problem? Im in the sme situation right now and Im so stressed
Ruth - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:37 AM
@Jade - they will sort out their territories soon enough. The kitten will learn from the older cat quite quickly. But it depends on the cats themselves. Some cats get on, some don't ever. You'll just have to keep them separate and oversee any introductions, until such time as you are happy they can tolerate each other. I don't envy you, it can be very tricky as cats will fight!
Jo - 31-Jul-17 @ 3:55 PM
To add from the previous comment, the rescue cat came feom a home with 9 or so other cats, 1 dog, chicken and 3 young kids. And was fine.
Jade - 31-Jul-17 @ 1:22 PM
(Long one-sorry) Me and my partner recently took on my sisters 10-12 week old kitten because it didnt get on with her niece. (Unnuetered female). 2 days later we recieved a message that the rescue cat (10, nuetered female) we were homing (before we found out about the kitten) was ready to be picked up. The kitten has been here 4 or so days now, the cat has been here 2 days. When they first saw each other the kitten hissed at the cat but the cat didnt seem bothered. We have kept them sperate but are trying to swap scents a bit. Today we decided to try one in the pet carrier and one out, to smell each other. They seemed fine!! Just curious. So we decided to let the kitten out. The kitten didnt seem bothered at all, the cat a little curious. All was well until the kitten jumped on the sofa to where the cat was on my partners lap, and she full-on attacked the kitten. How do we get them to tolerate each other without one getting hurt on stressed?
Jade - 31-Jul-17 @ 1:20 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
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