Assign Separate Territory And Resources
If cats had a dictionary, the word share would not be listed in it. Cats retain the wild instincts of their ancestors. This means they guard their possessions carefully and claim anything that they can for themselves.
If you want an older cat to accept a kitten, do not ask it to share resources. Your kitten needs its own food and water bowls, bed, litter box, and toys. Your kitten may be willing to use the same resources as a senior cat, but this acceptance is unlikely to be reciprocated.
Ideally, keep these resources as far apart from each other as possible. Food bowls, for example, should start in opposite corners of a room. This will prevent the cats from coming into conflict during times when aggression is likeliest, such as mealtimes.
Both cats will also need their own territory. Older cats need a quiet place to call their own and watch the world go by. Ensure your senior cat has this territory, and it is not accessible to the kitten.
The same applies to your kitten. All cats need their own territory. If you do not assign an area for your kitten, it will start scratching stair carpets or furniture to claim the whole house. If both cats have their own terrain, they will happily ignore each other.
When To Get Help
If the introductions dont go smoothly, seek professional help right away. See our handout: When the Helpline Cant Help. Animals can be severely injured in fights, and the longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. However with professional help, conflicts between pets can often be resolved.
Adding A Second Cat To Your Household
Thinking of adopting a second cat? Here are some tips that can increase your chances for establishing a peaceful multi-cat home.
- Dont worry too much about the gender of the cats involved. Age and temperament are the most important factors.
- Adult cats will usually accept a new kitten much more easily than they will accept a new adult cat. Cats are territorial, and your cat may resent an adult feline intruder.
- If you’re able to choose from a group of kittens, avoid a kitten thats hissing, growling or engaged in serious battle with his mates.
- Prefer to adopt an adult cat? Success depends largely on the personality of your present cat: if hes easygoing and the new cat is also laid back, you may have little trouble if you introduce them slowly and correctly.
Cats are solitary and highly territorial creatures that often require weeks or months to adjust to changes in their environment and lifestyle. For that reason,first impressions are extremely important when meeting other household pets. Cats that are introduced too quickly and fight may never learn to coexist peacefully.
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Allow Them To Become Familiar With Each Others Scent
One way as to how to introduce cats is to let them become familiar with each others scent early on. Wait until they are comfortable in their own separate spaces first. Once theyve settled down already, allow them to explore each others scent while still keeping them apart.
For example, you can pet them separately, and let both of them smell your hands after you pet the other. Gradually allow them to explore each others spaces and items such as food and water bowls, beds, and toys while making sure that the other is not there. Give them treats to associate the new scent with something positive.
Place Your Cats In A Room
Once you arrive at your new house, continue talking as usual and place their carrier in the corner of a room. Keep the blanket on top of it, open the door and let them come out of the case in their own time.
While theyre contemplating leaving the carrier, place their belongings in the room beside the carrier and put the litter box in the opposite corner. Make sure to place their food bowl nearby but dont expect them to eat that day. These familiar items will slightly ease their stress but it will still take time for the shock of the move to wear off.
Once youve opened the carrier and placed their items in the room, leave the room and make sure to close the door behind you. You wont want them accidentally getting out of the house while youre bringing your furniture in. This also keeps them calmer and not running around in fear of all the big items being moved, the noises they hear or unfamiliar people.
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How Do I Ensure That My Cat Is Well Socialized
The prime socialization period for cats occurs between two and twelve weeks of age, so much of the cats socialization will have taken place while he is still with his mother and siblings. During that time, the kitten is very impressionable. If he has good experiences with people, dogs, or other cats, he will likely continue to accept them. If he has no experience at all, or unpleasant experiences with any of them, he may become apprehensive or adverse to them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your cat to as many types of social situations and influences as possible. Use positive reinforcement and make your kitty feel secure during the introduction of any new experience.
With a little work and patience, you will quickly become your new kittys best friend and hopefully, you will gain a great friend, too.
Bringing Your New Cat Home
- Cats feel safe when surrounded by their own scent. Place towel or bedding she has been sleeping on in the carrier box so that she has familiar scent during the trip.
- Once home, take your cat to her room right away. Do not come into contact with the resident cat.
- Keep her inside the carrier box until you are in her room with the door shut.
- Place her box or other hiding area in a corner of the room and place the carrier box beside it. Open the door.
- Do not force her to come out. She may be scared and stressed by the new environment.
- Leave her alone in the room. Allow her to settle down and come out on her own.
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Make Sure Both Cats Have A Safe Space To Escape To
Just like two roommates in a shared apartment are able to retreat to their own bedrooms, cats in a multipet home require a sufficient amount of personal space in order to feel at ease. “Just because cats come together for feeding or to sleep on the same bed, it doesn’t mean that they like each other or that stress isn’t occurring in the feline household, Dr. Rodan explained. “In many households, cats come together because the primary resources are placed in one location.” This is especially important to remember when you bring home a new kitten. “Prior to bringing home the new cat, set up a separate room so that the new cat can have its own safe space with all resources,” Dr. Rodan recommended. “This is an important coping strategy for a cat.”
Organize Supervised Bonding Sessions
Set up brief sessions of supervised bonding, then you can gradually make these interactions longer, depending on how your cats react. Remember that when any of them show signs of aggression or anxiety, postpone the sessions for the meantime until they become comfortable. Respect your cats pace to maintain a healthy environment for both your new kitten and your older cat.
If both cats seem to be enjoying each others presence, this may be a good sign that they are beginning to learn how to coexist with each other and not see the other as a threat. Giving them treats when they behave in a good-natured way will help them associate the sessions as positive experiences.
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You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression
When considering how to introduce a new kitten to your older cat, remember that first impressions matter! Making introductions thoughtfully and carefully can create positive associations between your adult cat and the kitten, while a hasty introduction may not go as smoothly. Like humans, cats also appear to place a lot of weight on first impressions. If the first interaction between your cats is stressful, with lots of hissing and fighting, this may end up being a difficult setback from which to recover. Investing a little bit of time and effort up front can offer significant benefits over the rest of your cats lives together.
How Long Does It Take For Cats To Get Along
The process of making cats get along is something that shouldnt be rushed. While you wish that your cats would become buddies in an instant, it is important to respect your cats pace without pressuring them. This process takes anywhere from a few days to several months and there is no definite period to know for sure.
What you can do is to let each of your cats feel your love and support throughout the introduction phase. That way, theyll be able to adjust to the new situation more smoothly, no matter how long it takes.
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How To Introduce Your New Kitten To Your Dog
A house full of kittens and dogs can be one of the cutest and happiest places in the world. To achieve such a harmonious home, you want to introduce your kitten to your dog in the right way. Just as a bad first impression can have a lasting effect with people, the same can happen when introducing a cat to a dog.
Dogs and cats can become good friends, but it takes time. This is because they have very different body language styles that can lead to some mixed signals. A kitten’s attempt at play might be interpreted as aggression by your dog or vice versa.1 So be prepared to take every step slowly. It could take weeks or more before they’re calm and comfortable with each other. But the result is worth the effort.
How To Train Your Older Cat To Accept A Kitten
Adrienne Kruzer, BS, RVT, LVT, has worked with a variety of animals for over 15 years, including birds of prey, reptiles, and small mammals.
Many cat owners do not realize their friendly, single adult cats may have trouble getting along with a new kitten. A new kitten is typically eager to make friends, but the older cats in the household may want nothing to do with the younger one. Often times the older cats will appear sad, reclusive, hiss a lot, and sometimes even stop eating if it isn’t adjusting well to the new member of the family. These behaviors are because cats do not like change, especially when it involves their established territory. Introducing a kitten to an adult cat can cause a lot of stress in your household, but there are some things you can do to help make the introduction go more smoothly.
Preparation is the key to a successful introduction of a new kitten to your older cat. If you prepare your cat for the new arrival and make the changes seem less drastic, then it is more likely to adapt to its new roommate. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for this adjustment with these steps.
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Put Your Cats In A Cat Carrier
When youre ready to bring your cats to your new home, gently place them in a carrier case, and cover the case with a blanket. The blanket will drown out the influx of the visual stimulation during the drive which can be very scary for them.
Dogs love going on car rides so transporting your dogs to your new house is not an issue.
A Word About Kittens And Puppies
Because theyre so much smaller, kittens are in more danger of being injured, or being killed by a young energetic dog, or by a predatory dog. A kitten will need to be kept separate from an especially energetic dog until she is fully-grown. Usually a well-socialized cat will be able to keep a puppy in its place, but some cats dont have enough confidence to do this. If you have an especially shy cat, you might need to keep her separated from your puppy until he matures enough to have more self-control.
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Prepare Your Home Before The Kitten Arrives
Its tempting to put the new kitten and resident cat in a room together and let them duke it out. Dont do that!
Both cats need time to adjust to each others presence before meeting in person . They also need a safe space to retreat to when theyre feeling overwhelmed.
Prepare separate spaces for each cat that can be shut off from the rest of the home. A utility room, office, spare bedroom, or bathroom might work well. Equip each space with the kittys bed, a safe hiding spot, soft items that absorb the cats scent, a scratching post, water bowl, food bowl, favorite toys, and litter box.
Problems And Proofing Behavior
Don’t give up if the first encounters are not positive. Older cats can take time to acclimate to a younger cat. A common mistake is to rush the socialization between cats and then getting mad or frustrated when it doesn’t work out. Keep calm and work in increments to bring the cats together. Try timing your interactions and slowly increasing the amount of time together. If your older cat is especially aggressive toward the new kitten, speak with your vet or a behavior specialist for tips.
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Supervise The Cats Without A Barrier
You should, however, keep a barrier nearby something handheld, like a large piece of cardboard. If theres the slightest sign of stalking or hard staring, you should distract and redirect the cats by showing them the fishing rod toy or other toys or treats. Be prepared to respond quickly to any potential aggression using the cardboard to separate them.
If you feel theres a chance theyll have a fight, its better to have a piece of cardboard to put between them if the fight breaks out rather than reaching down with your hands, Maxwell says.
End playtime on a happy note by rewarding them with treats. You can gradually increase the amount of time you allow your cats to be in the same area together, but always keep them under close supervision.
It may take a while before you feel comfortable leaving them unsupervised. Until then, in between supervised sessions, the new cat is closed in their room, but continue to allow the new cat some private time to explore and move about the house daily .
We want things to work out, but it may take more time than we think, says Wildman, noting that you may have to go back a few steps in the process. Patience almost always pays off with cats.
If one cat hides more than usual, urinates outside of the box, or grooms herself to the point of hair loss, those are signs that she is unhappy or stressed, and you may need to spend more time working on positive reinforcement with the baby gate between your cats, Maxwell says.
Watch For Signs Of Stress
As your cat and kitten get used to spending more time together, keep an eye on their behavior. Warning signs that you need to go back a few steps include:
- Urination in inappropriate places
- Abnormal grooming
If youre concerned, speak to your vet, and ask them if theres anything else that you can do to reduce the stress or anxiety in either or both cats. You may find that your cat and kitten will start to try and work out where the boundaries with each other are. They may play fight, spend time pouncing on each other, or compete for their toys.
Watch that none of these interactions escalate into violence. Hissing and puffing up their fur is an indication that your cats may start fighting, so at this point, end the interaction and allow them both to go back to their own safe spaces before trying again later.
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Physical Access But Supervised Contact
This next stage should only occur when cats are fully comfortable with seeing one another through a barrier. Removing or opening the barrier should happen quietly, ideally at a time when the cats are both engaged in a pleasurable activity such as play or feeding. Never force the cats together and try to observe passively. The main aim is that the cats are comfortable with the presence of one another they do not need to be physically interacting. If the cats show any signs of negativity towards one another or any signs of distress, replace the barrier to separate the cats and go back a stage. If cats appear to be relaxed in the company of one another, then physical supervised access should be as frequent as possible.
Set Up A Safe Room For Your New Kitten
It is not advisable to bring your kitten home and immediately introduce it to your resident kitty. Rather, you want to have a safe room ready to go.
A safe room is a room like a bedroom that preferably has a bathroom attached to it. The kitten should be placed in that room with its toys, bed, litter box, and food. Ideally, it would be a bedroom where your resident cat doesnt sleep every night and also one where your kitten can get used to a human in the house.
The safe room allows your kitten to get used the sounds and smells of your home, and allows your resident kitty to get used to the smells of a new kitten without the threat of it. You want to keep the kitten in the safe room for 1-2 weeks. During those 1-2 weeks the kitten will stop smelling like the shelter or breeder it came from and will rather start smelling like your home, which is less threatening to your resident cat. It will also allow for the kitten to be cleared health wise to make sure s/he is not bringing home any diseases to your resident kitty.
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