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How to introduce a kitten to a cat? Tips for a safe start

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How to introduce a kitten to a cat

Cats don’t like change or new experiences. They are also territorial and can fight over resources. When you get a new pet kitten, the resident cat may start behaving like a jealous child. However, adult cats tend to accept a new kitten more quickly than another adult cat.

As cats generally prefer their own company, having to live with another cat can be a source of stress, leading to health issues. However, if you introduce the cats properly, and the cats don’t feel the need to compete for food or safe sleeping places, they will eventually come to accept or tolerate each other.

Luckily, we have a few tips that will guarantee a smooth introduction and result in fewer fights and no injuries.

Here are some of our top tips on how to introduce a kitten to a cat

1. Create a safe space

How to introduce a kitten to a cat
Photo by hehaden from Flickr

The first step is to prepare a separate room for your new kitten, where it can retreat if your home gets too overwhelming. This “room” will also serve as a haven from where your new kitten can begin to establish familiarity with your family. However, be sure to select a room that your curious resident cat cannot reach.

This “safe space” must have everything the kitten needs, including a resting pillow, water bowl, feeding bowl, and 1-2 litter box(es) at least.

2. Prepare your cat

To make the introduction a whole lot easier, you should establish a strict meal schedule for your resident cat.

Setting a predefined mealtime for your resident cat and the new kitten will help them have the shared experience of receiving their meals at the same time every day.

3. Prepare the kitten

Before bringing home your new kitten, you must take it to the vet for a routine wellness check, necessary vaccination, and medication to prevent further stress once it moves into your home.

Additionally, it would help if you took the time to groom your kitten. By making sure to trim its claws and groom its fur, you can bond with your new kitten and minimize the risk of your kitten showing a stress response to the resident cat’s presence.

4. Commence introduction

This step is very delicate and crucial, as it determines whether you’ve succeeded or not. Following the process carefully will ensure that you get off to a good start.

There are many methods of introducing a new kitten to a cat. Still, there’s a unique method that works perfectly for most felines of various personalities, even though the result tends to be slow.

Step 1 – Lock away

To start the process, you should keep both the kitten and the resident cat far away from each other so that there’s no visual or physical contact. Also, there should be no traces of kitten or resident cat lying around your home (fur or hairball).

You can do this for just a few days, probably between 1-3 days.

Step 2 – Use the power of scent

Next, switch their toys. Give the kitten your house cat’s favorite toy and your house cat your kitten’s toy. This swapping of toys will ensure both the house cat and the new kitten get familiar with each other’s scent.

You can also switch bathing towels between your kitten and your cat.

At this point, you can swap locations: relocate the kitten to the cat’s base (place) and vice versa.

Remember, don’t let your cat or kitten see you approaching with a scented item, or they will see it as a treat and become non-compliant.

Step 3 – Allow limited contact

Photo by Mr.TinDC from Flickr

After a day or two of scent swapping, the next move is to allow limited contact. But there should be no physical contact yet, as they are not fully ready.

You need to set up the perfect environment to initiate limited contact. You will require the following items:

  • A baby gate/door between rooms
  • Pieces of fabric (for blinding)
  • Food bowls

The baby gate should restrict the cats from touching each other, while the fabric blinds both from seeing one another. After setting up the gate and fabric, set up the food bowls far away from the gate on either side for both the kitten and the resident cat.

This environment will promote the type of curiosity that’ll get them sniffing under the gate.

At such point, you should expect some hissing, scratching, or any form of aggression on both sides of the blockage. After some days, their behavior towards each other should be calmer, and at this point, you should consider full contact but with tight supervision.

5. Supervision

The cats’ temperaments aside, you still need to monitor their interaction as cats tend to remain hostile. Even after you’ve initiated the introduction correctly, look out for any warning signs of aggression to ensure that the interaction continues to be safe.

Signs to watch out for

  • The resident cat gets aggressive over space.
  • Kitten is struggling with adapting to your home and the resident cat.

Once you notice any of these signs, you should begin separating both of them for some time so they get to feel safe again. And sometimes, either or both of the cats could exhibit signs of stress, which could be harmful to their well-being. Signs of stress include:

  • Atypical grooming
  • Improper urination
  • Disproportionate vocalization

If any of your cats happen to show any of these signs, you should immediately consult a vet.

6. Don’t rush the process

The introduction of your new kitten to your resident cat is not expected to be an easy task, as it might take a good while before the pair eventually get along.

The introduction sometimes can take less than three weeks. However, in some cases, it can take more time (months).

In the end, it depends on your commitment to making it work. It boils down to your dedication and compassion to make the introduction process a success.

7. Prevent altercations

There are times when cats have to be cats. They’re still going to pounce on each other for the fun of it. Or even for the sake of a toy. But always, you should monitor them to see if they’re getting too aggressive or just playing rough.

If they begin to give out threats such as arching and hissing, then you should consider stopping the fight, which you can do by distracting one of them via hand waves, calling its name, or making a loud noise (clapping).

If the fight persists, then you should carry one of them back to their safe space until they cool down.

Things to avoid when introducing cats

1. Don’t let them figure it out on their own

This move will be hazardous to the health of both cats. If you’re not careful, one could end up severely damaging the other. Such a situation will only make the introduction harder.

2. No unscheduled feeding

Before you even start adopting a kitten you should keep your cat on a strict meal schedule. This is how both the kitten and your resident cat will learn to eat together harmoniously.

3. They should not be idle

During the introduction period, ensure that your cats aren’t idle. Because when they’re inactive, they begin to notice each other and thus feel uncomfortable or threatened; this will most likely lead to fights.

So if you want to avoid this, always have them doing something. Be it playing with a toy or eating. After all, the idea is to make your cat and kitten comfortable when they are together.

4. Don’t rush the process!

I know it can be exciting to get your pet a new friend. But don’t rush it! Every step should be taken as slow as possible to ensure a smooth introduction. Your cat’s temperament needs to be taken into account, and sometimes, it will require a bit of time.

Why is my cat suddenly aggressive to my other cat?

If you’ve ever heard anyone say cats are naturally solitary animals, well, they’re on the money. Cats don’t like it when strangers move in.

Here are the reasons why:


When you see your cat hissing at your new kitten, don’t begin to scold because it’s only natural for cats to express its dominance in the form of territorial aggression. Your cat recognizes your home as its territory and it’ll do everything in its power to prevent newcomers from invading.

Cats also use hissing as a form of dominance to express seniority. In the case of a younger feline, it’s used to express rank or any other form of superiority.

New to other cats

There are feral cats, and there are home cats. Feral cats have enough experience with other cats and cat groups. So they’re more likely to behave when sharing territory with another. That is, after a proper introduction.

But the same can’t be said about strictly home cats. Such cats are sheltered to the extent they have no experience interacting with other felines, let alone an older one. It doesn’t mean you cannot introduce a home cat to a new kitten; it will just take a bit longer.

Disrupting their meal schedule

Your resident cat is already adjusting to a significant change, adding a new feline member to the house. It can’t handle any more changes, especially if it has to do with food.

When you don’t feed your cats at the usual time and rate, one of them will feel left out—thus making the unsatisfied cat feel forgotten and angry. Then over time, it’ll begin to display signs of aggression, such as hissing and arching.

Uneven attention

Apart from meal schedules, all your cats must be shown great love equally, as much as possible. And it would be better for them to receive such affection at the same time and rate. This formula will promote lasting harmony between the pair, mostly if one of them is known to be excessively sensitive.

Feeling of entrapment

There will be moments when tension can flare up between your cats. In such a situation, one can be pushed to a corner, resulting in a potential fight. To avoid the cats from finding themselves cornered always make sure there are sufficient hiding places if one of them wishes to exit a pending brawl.

Their similarity

Cats don’t get along that well. It’s much worse when the other cat is similar to them. For instance, a male resident cat can’t quickly get along with another male newcomer. Their similarity alone will cause some altercations if proper care is not taken. The best approach is to get a new cat but with different characteristics. For instance, get a female cat to go well with the male cat.


Pets don’t have a specific biological reason why they behave a certain way, making them unique. With that in mind, your cat can have an unbearable temperament towards another feline. If this is the case, you should make sure their meetings are brief until they get used to each other.

How can I reduce stress between my resident cat and the new cat?

Ensure that each cat has its litterbox, bed, hiding area, scratching post, feeding bowl, and water bowl. Distribute these around your house so that your cats don’t have to get in each other’s way

Provide more than what is required. If you decide to keep two cats, make sure to provide three of everything to avoid competition.

Ensure that there is plenty of food and water to go around as cats don’t like to share. It’s very stressful for cats when they have to be near each other to get food and water.


Cats are like a disappointed kid who has to share his space with a new brother. It sees the other cat as a competitor, and the price is your love, attention, and space. So it’s only natural for them to be aggressive.

Remember, it is your responsibility to convince your resident cat that there is no reason to panic. You need to show your resident cat with patience and love that it can coexist harmoniously with another member of its kind.

Our tips above on how to introduce a kitten to a cat will give you good results, so go ahead and get that new kitten confidently.

We leave you with a video