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Ask A Vet: How Do I Introduce My Resident Cat To My New Kitten?

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If you love cats, you might want to have more than one. But your resident cat might disagree.  How can you introduce a new cat or kitten and make the transition easy for all?  Here are some tips that might help:

  • One Thing At A Time.

During the introduction period, make sure there are no other huge changes. Cats tend to be intolerant to change and if you change too much too soon, you set both the cats up for a poor introduction. Even interior remodeling or home repairs where workers and new people will be around can add stress to cats. Don’t reconfigure your furniture or move to a new apartment when you are adopting a new cat.

  • No space invaders.

Remember that cats are born to be solitary hunters.  If you deposit your new kitten into your older cat’s territory, you are asking for trouble. It is probably wise to put the kitten in a confined area that is “off the beaten path”, maybe a bathroom or spare bedroom. The kitten needs limited space and time to adjust also.

  • The land of plenty.

Try to decrease chances for the cats to compete or feel challenged. Each cat should have their own litter box, food dishes and hiding places. Make sure there is a wide birth where the cats can choose to avoid each other completely if they want to. This way, the confrontation is not forced and the cats can choose their interaction without feeling like their survival is in jeopardy.

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  • A Spa Retreat.

Create a tranquil environment. All cats are tuned in to the cues and scents. Feliway®, synthetic facial pheromone mimics the message a cat can leave when he is happy.  If your cat and kitten smell it, they are more likely to assume that all is well. Provide hiding spots and quiet places for both cats far from the other where they can retreat if feeling threatened.

  • Patience is a virtue.

Cats can be slow to accept the presence of a new competitor and often see little advantage to friendship. Eventually, most cats will come to an agreement to tolerate each other, but they may never be friends. Do not try to force an alliance. Forced confrontation is likely to end in a battle. The introduction process can take weeks or even months.

  • Planning is everything.

Make sure that you have a place that you can separate the cats and allow for the time it might take for them. Don’t give in to your human tendencies to force the friendship. When your life is extra crazy, it might not be an ideal time. Wait until things are very permanent and calm to add a new cat. Talk with your vet about tools and strategies to help because he/she knows your cat as an individual. These things can take time, but in the end, you can all live in peace and harmony.

Love cats? Find out more on Facebook-Kathryn Primm,DVM.

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