Anyone who has ever parented a cat knows that just like humans, each has his own individual personality. Add to this the fact that cats are territorial by nature, and introducing a newcomer can be tricky. However, this does not mean that it is impossible. Happily ever after is possible.
How Long It Takes
According to the ASPCA, it takes most cats eight months to a year to develop a friendship with another cat. Some cats do grow to love each other, but unfortunately, some never even become friends. Some learn to tolerate each other, while others fight every day from their first meeting. The bottom line is that there is no way of knowing exactly how long it will take for your cat to develop a relationship with a new kitten, or how successful it will be.
Difficulties Caused by Feline Nature
There are two difficulties to introducing a new kitten to your cat, and both stem from their nature. The first is that cats are territorial. As a general rule, they do not like to share anything, and cats who live together have to share almost everything. The other is that cats dislike change, and there are few changes bigger than getting a new sibling.
The ASPCA advises against an immediate face-to-face meeting between your new kitten and your resident cat. Instead, put your new kitten in a room of his own with his own bowls, litter box, toys and scratching post. Feed him and your cat close to the door on each side. Feed them treats near the door as well. This allows them to get used to each other's smells and learn to associate them with the pleasant activity of eating. After two to three days, switch their positions; put your cat in the room the kitten was in and allow him to inspect it while your kitten inspects the areas your cat frequents. After a few more days of your kitten in his room, play with him near the door, and with your cat on the other side of it. Place toys near the door and encourage both to paw at them. Eventually they may make a game of pawing at each other under the door.
Face to Face
After about a week of this, if there has been no growling or hissing, introduce your cat to your kitten by placing a screen or baby gate between them. Ask someone to help so that there will be one person with each cat. Then call each cat by name and feed them treats. Over the next few days, continue to feed, treat and play with each in this manner. Gradually move their food, treats and toys closer to the barrier.
Finally, remove the barrier and allow them to spend a short amount of time together. This should be supervised; keep a spray bottle of water on hand to break up any fights or aggression. Each day, allow them to spend a slightly longer amount of time together until they get used to each other and are comfortable together.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Leslie Carver has been a professional author since 2009. Her work appears on multiple websites. She has an associate's degree in English with progress toward her bachelor's at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has been awarded an Outstanding Student Award in English and twice nominated for creative writing awards.