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Thinking of adding to your furry family with a new kitten? Have an existing cat and want to ensure the whole family get along? This guest post by Pet Insurance Australia investigates how to best introduce a new kitten into your home.
Cats are amazing creatures that bring endless love and humor to millions of homes across the globe. However, it’s no news to cat owners that the majority of our feline friends do not like change. Particularly big change like introducing new pets or moving to a new house.
How To Introduce A Kitten To A Cat
Here are some best steps you can take to introduce your new kitty to your cat or cats.
- Scent – with a very soft tissue very gently rub the sides of your existing cat’s mouth and the top of their head. Then transfer the scent onto you kittens head. Do this for your kittens bedding also. Having the kitten smelling like a familiar friend can help with introductions.
- Calming Diffusers – consider purchasing a pheromone diffuser for your home during this introduction stage. These scientific devices plug into the wall and release pheromones that can calm your existing cat and create a peaceful environment.
- Area – have an area for your kitten. This could be a room that your existing cat doesn’t care for. It is best not to put the kitten in your cats favourite space or eating area. This is the place you can put the kitten when you cannot supervise their interactions or when you are out. A small room, such as a laundry or a bathroom can also be suitable but ensure you have a nice warm bed for your kitten to snuggle up in.
When you bring your new kitten home, this is the area they will explore first and it will become their ‘safe zone’. Once they are comfortable in this area you can start allowing them to adventure to other spaces in the home. You will find that if you kitten gets spooked they will naturally run back to this safe space.
- Big Kitty – clip your cats nails. This is a good preventative measure to keep everyone safe.
- Litter Boxes – have TWO of everything. Have a special hooded variety for your existing cat and an open one for your kitten. Your new kitten will not be able to push the cat flap of the hooded litter box open so it will ensure your cat can toilet in peace. Keeping an open litter box for you kitten will allow your cat to smell your kittens ‘scent’. Ensure these are not located in the same areas, this also applies to feeding and drink bowls. Once the relationship has formed this can change, depending on how well your cats are getting along.
Cats are fiercely territorial, and don’t typically like adjustments in their areas, whether it be a new family member, or even a new couch.
All cats love to mark objects and people with their ‘scent’ – cue the face rubs and head bunts. The favourite zones are normally wall corners, chair legs, and their adoring humans. Surrounding themselves with their scent allows your cat to feel safe and secure. In times of high stress some cats even begin to mark their ‘territory’ with urine.
If socialized well as young kittens, most cats will tolerate changes in their environment, however for many, a new furry family member will cause a certain degree of stress and upset…or at the very least and decent shot of shock!
So, when introducing a new kitten, you need to be realistic. There will be a few hisses, and protests at the new arrival. Chances are there may be a few growls and even head swipes to set some boundaries. But with patience and time, your cat will learn to love, or at least tolerate, their new kitten friend.
Many experts advise introducing a new kitten before your friendly feline turns 18 months old if you are wanting them to play. Most older cats will learn to tolerate the new friend but will be much less likely to play or interact with the new bundle of fur.
Your ‘safe zone’ should be all set up before you bring your kitten home. Allow your existing cat to sniff and explore this area, however, do not allow them to use the kitten’s litter box.
The room should contain;
- A snuggly bed
- Hidey hole
- A small scratching post
Keep your kitten in their ‘safe zone’ for a few hours before even considering introductions. It is really important that you take your time with this process and go at your kitten’s speed.
Some kittens are super adventurous and will take to their new environment quickly, while others may take a few days to become settled. Wait until your kitten is comfortable in their new ‘safe zone’ before considering a-meet-and-greet with your existing cat.
Getting your kitten and cat to meet under a door, with some sniffs is ideal. However most times, your existing cat will just come casually strolling in and meet the new furry member face-to-face.
It’s important to remember that hissing and growling are normal behaviours for cats.
Do not punish your older cat for this behavior. It is also a good idea to discourage your new kitten from chasing or jumping at your older cat during these first few meetings. Remember lots and lots of praise for your older cat.
You can also distract the kitten with food so your cat can have a good sniff and look around the kitten’s space. Having two people present during the first few visits is important to keep everyone safe. You may also notice your cat walking around with a gaping mouth while investigating your new kitten. This is your cat’s way of getting a grade-A analysis of the new smells.
Do not force your existing cat into this area. Many cats will come in, give a hiss, and disappear, keeping clear of the area for a few days. The key is to not rush this relationship and to ensure you keep-up with the same routines in the house; feeding times, brushing times, cuddle times. Your existing cat needs to feel secure, calm and safe during this transition.
If your cat shows any symptoms like inappropriate toileting or unusual behaviours, seek veterinary intervention quickly. If you leave this too late, it can be almost impossible to break.
By creating a calm environment, alongside lots of patience, your new addition will be slowly and lovingly welcomed by your existing cat.
Let us know in the comments below: what do you do to introduce new cats to your house?
This guest post was provided by www.petinsuranceaustralia.com.au