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How to Introduce a New Cat or Kitten to your Existing Cats

Updated on January 21, 2013

Introducing a new kitten to your existing cats can be far more stressful than you ever imagined. The cats you thought would be the most adaptable often prove to be the most disturbed by the new arrival, and may act as if they have been rejected, often going off their food, refusing to enter the house, vanishing for days on end, or even being actively aggressive towards the lively bundle of fun that has just arrived in your household. This can be very worrying, and leaves you feeling guilty for "inflicting" this new pet on your previous pets, or even makes you consider whether you should rehome the new addition, even though you have already bonded with him or her and find the thought of "getting rid of them" extremely traumatic.

There are many ways to go about solving your problem and I have attempted here to list the ones I have found the most effective.

1) Do not let the new kitten "take the place" your existing cats have got used to in the pecking order. This means you may have to shut your kitten either in a cat cage, or out of your bedroom overnight to allow the original cats to continue to sleep in their usual places, e.g. on your bed, sofa etc.

2) Ensure your cats still get first refusal on sitting on your lap, even if this means pushing your new kitten away and placing him or her in a different, but no less comfortable spot, such as within a comfortable, but contained cat cage for part of the evening.

3) Try to spoil the original cats by giving them their very favourite foods after the kitten arrives, e.g. fresh chicken, Gourmet type brands of cat food, canned tuna etc. This way you can hope they make the connection between the kitten, and the good treats that have followed. This will also encourage them not to stop eating in protest, as the tempatation of such special foods is too much to resist.

4) You may well find that your kitten will be on the receiving end of various hissing and growling, or even paw swipes as it tries to play with your adult cats. This is only to be expected, so try to resist the urge to interfere. It usually sounds or looks worse than it is, and if you do "take the kitten's side", and tell off the adult cats, they will only resent the kitten more. Only interfere if the kitten is in real danger. You will soon find the kitten learns his or her place in the pecking order and avoids overstepping the line.

5) Try buying a "Feliway Diffuser", easily available online. These look much like a plug in air freshener, but give off a Pheromone similar to the scent a cat leaves behind when it rubs it's cheeks against you or furniture, or rubs it's body against your legs. The effect is one that is very relaxing and calming to cats, and can also help with cats which are having "accidents" in the house, vertically scratching your furniture, are stressed by fireworks, have recently moved house or are recovering from recent operations. The spray version is also useful for spraying pet carriers if your cat is travelling on a journey, and will drastically reduce the stress such travel can cause your pet.

6) You will usually find that within a week or two your cats and kitten will be eating out of dishes next to each other, even if they are not yet best buddies. Be patient, the whole process takes time, and remember, there are many people who compulsively adopt cat after cat, yet their cats all adapt eventually without "killing" each other. One day you will come home and find all of your cats playing or sleeping together, and if you had more than one existing cat, you will usually find that once one accepts the new kitten, the other will shortly follow. Do not give up too quickly and where possible leave them to work it out amongst themselves, whilst ensuring the original cats get loads of fuss and do not feel "rejected" or "pushed out" by the new kitten.


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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Don't worry, they soon adapt to each other, but I really do recommend the 'Feliway' plugin or spray if you are having problems. It works extremely well in all sorts of situations your cats can find stressful.

    • Astralrose profile image

      Astralrose 5 years ago from India

      Guess, we really need to wait for a week or two for our two cats to get along together. Hope to see them eat together from the same plate.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Wow Tammy, that is amazing, I so hope he settles down now. Don't forget to try the Feliway Plugin, it might well make all the difference to him settling in again and both cats relaxing in each others company.

    • profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago

      After two years Leo came home. He appeared to hate Ricky kitty and could not or would not stay in the same house. Eventually left for good. We thought we sighted him a few times in the neighborhood, he never let us approach him. Thursday night he was at our back door. We are so happy. Ricky kitty is acting nervous and Leo still appears to dislike Ricky.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      LOL J Sunhawk, yes, my cats pretty much did the same when we got our new kitten, actually they do the same when we look after friends dogs at our house too. Even the dogs back down.

    • J Sunhawk profile image

      J Sunhawk 7 years ago from South Carolina

      You have the system down well. Stick New Kitty in a carrying case and the old cats sniff around. They eventually sort it out.

      One of my older cats smacked New Kitty on the head with his paw. That seemed to settle everything. Now they get along.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks prairieprincess, it really does help and makes the whole process less stressful for all concerned.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 7 years ago from Canada

      Misty, very well written hub on this process. I like your suggestion about giving first dibs to the first cat. Cats are so sensitive to status, and get their feelings hurt easily.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi RickZ, thanks for commenting. I shall be sure to look up your hubs on animals as I know just how entertaining they can be.

    • rickzimmerman profile image

      rickzimmerman 7 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      misty: been there, done that, and only now are the cats getting along . . . . You might enjoy my hub on Life as a Cat, or on Devon Rex Cats. (And don't miss The Whopper Spaniel or The Cactoose!) Regards, RickZ