Empty Mind Beginners Mind
When I bought the kitten home, I was sure that two of my five cats were going to be a problem. I feared they would maim or kill the kitten. These were unfounded assumptions, but be ready for anything. In one case, the kitten and an adult cat proved to be great buddies. They play all the time, and the adult had all the patience in the world for the kittens boundless energy.
Help Keep Your Cat Calm Down
There are various ways that can help you calm down your cat. If you feel that theyll be stressed upon the arrival of a new kitten, one remedy that you can consider is natural supplements with calming properties. This may help relax your cat in anticipation of new changes in the home.
Normally, these supplements work best when theyre given a couple of weeks before the kitten is expected to arrive home. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any medication.
How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat
Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for any cat owner, but if you already have a cat at home, youll need to think carefully about how to introduce them to their new furry friend.
Follow our 10 must-know tips to make sure that those initial meetings go without a hitch. Before you know it, your cat and kitten will be more than happy to spend time in each others company. They may even become the best of friends!
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Free Access Without Supervision For Short Periods
Free unsupervised access for short periods of time can occur as long as there is no negative behaviour between the cats during the physical access but supervised contact stage. Once commenced, free unsupervised access should be as frequent as possible. At other times the new cat is still kept separate. If friendly behaviours are seen between the new cat and the resident, they can be kept together for increasingly longer periods although always make sure they have access back to their own parts of the house. At this stage, it is particularly important that each cat has its own resources in separate locations from each other and from the resources of the other cat in the household as this will help prevent the cats from feeling in competition with one another.
If you are struggling to successfully complete this introduction process or the cats experience a breakdown in an initially good introduction, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Contact your vet who will be able to provide you with advice or refer you to a qualified behaviourist.
Introducing The New Kitten To Your Cat
Most adult cats are fairly tolerant of kittens. Keeping the kitten in its own area and then allowing introductions when the cats are eating or playing should help to decrease any initial anxiety. A crate, or a leash and harness, can be used to control one or both of the cats during initial introductions. A synthetic cheek gland scent, either as a spray or diffuser, may also be useful for easing introductions. Most cats and kittens will soon work out a relationship on their own without injury. However, if there is a threat of aggression, a gradual introduction program will need to be followed.
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Setting Up The Home For Your New Cat
If you have made the decision to get a new cat, the first step when you bring it home is to confine the new cat to a single room. Ideally, pick a room that your resident cat does not use much and that you do not need constant access too, perhaps a spare bedroom or study.
Ensure the new cats room contains:
- Scratching post
These items should be those that came with the cat, or brand-new. It is not a good idea to use some of your resident cats belongings as these will smell of your resident cat, which may make your new cat uneasy at a time when you are trying to help it to feel relaxed in its new surroundings. Likewise, reducing the number of belongings your current cat has has the potential to cause it distress.
In addition, the use of synthetic feline facial pheromone Feliway Classic in both the new cats room and in the area where the resident cat spends the most time will help to create feelings of familiarity and security within the physical environment. For the new cat, this may help to speed up adaption to the new environment and, for the resident cat, it may help prevent any feelings that its territory is being threatened.
Give the new cat plenty of time to become accustomed to the routines of the new home and the people that live within it, and to allow your new cats scent to become part of its room. This will occur:
Signs of frustration at being confined include:
Introduce Your Cats By Scent
A great deal of your cats communication is based on scent, so its important to create a positive scent association for both cats before they meet.
On the day your kitten arrives, put your resident cat in another room with its favorite things . Give your kitten a tour of the home and then settle the kitten into its own private space.
Now you can let your resident cat out of its space. Let your cat smell your kitten-scented hands and clothes and give the cat treats.
During the first few days, allow each cat to explore the others territory and get comfortable with each others scent without seeing each other.
This video offers helpful tips on how to teach your cats to scents each other.
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Tips To Build A Relationship
Be patient as your cat adjusts to a new kitten in your home. Cats can be territorial, and your older cat may feel threatened at first. Give them time to relax before you force them to interact with a new kitten.
The first meeting. When you first bring your new kitten home, allow your cat to sniff and see what the kitten is before putting them down or taking them out of the carrier. This gives your older cat the respect of checking out the new companion before the kitten is released into their territory.
Allow space. Its a good idea to keep your pets separated from each other at first unless supervised. Consider dedicating one room of your home to a new kitten. This gives them a chance to explore safely without having free-reign of your entire house.;
Encourage bonding. Give both cats treats at the same time to provide the opportunity for positive interaction. This also gives your cat the chance to see that your kitten is the same as them just smaller. Put their food bowls close together, but dont make them share. Of course, they may just eat out of both bowls, but thats okay.
Play with toys like feathers, balls, and laser pointers to get your cat active and excited. This will help them to relax and give your new kitten a chance to earn their trust and attention, too.
Build On Your Success And Treat Them Both Equally
Immediately after that first mealtime together, separate them and keep them apart until the next mealtime, gradually increasing the time they spend together. Share treats, affection and attention between them equally during their time together, not only to build positive associations but also to demonstrate that there is no favoritism.
Remember, as the ‘leader of the pack’, it’s not your responsibility to adjudicate between them or gauge who needs to be treated as ‘top cat’ – they will sort this out between themselves quite naturally. You just need to maintain impartiality and fairness in all respects.
Everybody loves a cute kitten, and part of the joy of owning a second cat is making an enormous fuss of the new baby in the family. But by taking a calm, paced approach to the process of introduction, by laying the foundations of a respectful partnership between the older and the younger cat, and by sharing the love equally, you’ll all get even more love in return from both cats.
And that’s a recipe for a very happy two-cat family!
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Prepare Your Resident Cat Before The Kitten Arrives
When your resident cat recognizes the scent of the new kitten, they are less likely to feel threatened. If possible, take a pet blanket to the shelter or place from which youll be adopting the kitten and rub your kittens scent into the blanket. When you arrive home, place the blanket in an area where your cat will find it on their own and become familiar with the scent.
If you free-feed your existing cat, switch to meal feeding before bringing home the kitten. Scheduled mealtimes establish a predictable, comforting routine.
Let Them See Each Other
Step two of your cats introduction is visual contact! Before letting your furry friends loose in a room together, separate them by a screen or a gap in the door. Allow them to meet each other gently – when comfortable with each other they will sniff noses or rub against the door. This is your cue to let them meet face to face!
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Training Your Kitten To Use A Cat Flap
Once your kitten begins to feel confident going outside alone, you might want to think about using a cat flap especially if you dont fancy opening and closing the door for them all day! There are a number of cat flaps to choose from. Some are triggered by your cats microchip, only allowing entry for them, while others have in-built infrared systems. Of course, there are the traditional cat flaps too.
Give Your Kitten Her Own Litter Box
Always provide your new kitten his own litter box and food and water bowls away from where your current cat dines and does her business. Todd says that kittens and cats should have their own everything. If each animal has their own dining and bathroom facilities, there’s less chance of disputes.
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Prepare Your Older Cat For The Meeting
Preparation is the key to ensuring your older cat is prepared for a new arrival. Use these tips to get your cat ready:
Make sure your cat is healthy. A checkup with your veterinarian will ensure your cat is in good health. If they have any health conditions that cause discomfort or pain, try to address them before adding a kitten to the mix.
Respiratory diseases are common in kittens, and you dont want to pass one along to your older cat if they aren’t in good health. A strong immune system will ensure their body can adjust to the new germs a kitten will bring to your home.;
Set up your house. Cats are smart creatures. By putting out new supplies for your kitten early, your cat will be able to investigate and sense that something is about to happen. Choose a spot for your kittens food and water bowls, a new litter box, and a bed or climbing tree.;Make sure there is an extra litter box , so if getting a new kitten and you have one cat you will need 3 litter boxes.
Make sure to buy new toys, too. Kittens and cats love to play, but your older cat may be wary of something flashy they’re not used to. Allow them to adjust to physical changes in your home before the addition of a kitten.
Offer Plenty Of Treats
Treats almost always help! Make sure you have enough for both cats. When you see them interacting nicely with each other, offer a treat to help reinforce this positive behavior. If youve already been training your older cat using positive reinforcement methods, its a great idea to do the same with your kitten.
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Introducing Your Cat To A New Cat
Free-ranging and feral cats lead complex and busy lives. They maintain far larger territories than most people realize, and these territories often contain a variety of environments, such as forests, farmlands, urban gardens and yards. Within these territories, cats explore, hunt and scavenge for food alone. They only occasionally interact with other cats. They dont live in groups or even pairs, and they dont seek out contact with other cats. In fact, they actively avoid it. Considering this natural behavior of cats, it isnt surprising that it can be very difficult to introduce a new cat into an established cats territory, even when that territory is your home.
If youre bringing a new cat into your home, be patient. The introduction must be gradual. Following the initial introduction, it can take a very long time for a relationship to grow. 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 dont 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.
Phase 3 Cat Meets Dog
- Bring the dog in on a leash. Once the cat is used to your home, let the cat roam loose in one room. Keep the dog on a leash and have dog treats ready in your pocket. If possible, have another person the cat is familiar with on the other side of the room to reassure and distract the cat from the dog.
- Sit and meet. Keep the dog seated and focused on you as the leader. Try offering the dog a toy. If the dog focuses on or accepts the toy, reward the dog with a treat. If the dog tries to stand and move towards the cat, correct the dog slightly with the leash and reward him or her with a treat. If at any point the dog is not responding to your commands or the cats stress level appears elevated, remove the dog from the room. Keep repeating this process until the dog is responding to you and either ignoring or accepting the cat. This process helps teach the dog that cats are not prey, toys to be chased, or threats.
- Watch. Never leave the dog and cat unsupervised until you are absolutely sure they have built up a mutual, trusting and respectful relationship.
- Make sure kitty has some space for alone time. Even once the cat and dog are comfortable with each other, cats still like having the option to retreat to a space away from the dog. Place a baby gate across the doorway of a room in the house where the cat or cats like to hang out, or buy or build a tall cat tower so they can retreat when needed.
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Phase 4 Cat Meets Cat
- Let the cats meet at their own pace. If there are no signs of aggression between cats, leave the door to the safe room open a crack. This will allow the new cat to explore and/or your resident cat to visit. Supervision is necessary for the safety of both cats.
- In case of aggression, have a spray bottle filled with water or a towel handy. Always stop serious threats and/or aggression immediately, as a serious fight may damage the potential for successful integration and relationship.
- If over a period of weeks your integration plan is not going well, consider the installation of an inexpensive screen door from a building supply store. The screen door allows the cats to continue to get to know each other by sight and smell, while keeping both parties safe. Each cat can take turns in the screened room.
- A Feliway diffuser may also prove helpful when integration is difficult.
Phase 5 Integration Complete
- You may notice some occasional hissing, swatting and grouchy behaviour over the next few months . This is normal. Cats are hierarchical by nature and must establish and affirm the pecking order within your household. Plus, much like humans, all cats have the occasional off day.
Please note: The 5 phases detailed above offer only approximate timelines. Some integrations may proceed faster or slower and integration is dependent on the personalities of the cats involved. Remember, you know your cat best. Use common sense and patience when integrating a new cat or cats.
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How Much Energy Do They Have
Its a good idea to adopt a cat around the same age and/or who has a similar energy level. For example, it may seem like your 10-year-old cat would benefit from the excitement a kitten brings into the home, but its more likely your older cat will be consistently bothered by the kitten who wants to play all the time.
Can I Prevent My Cat From Becoming Overly Fearful
Most kittens are highly social but sociability and social play begins to wane after two months of age. Therefore as soon as the kitten is obtained you should make every attempt to introduce the kitten to a wide variety of people a wide variety of environments, other pets, and as many new stimuli as possible. One way to help insure a positive relationship with each new person, pet, place and event is to give the kitten one of its favored treats or toys with each new meeting and greeting.
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