If you have a cat at home, chances are she's already laid claim to her piece of real estate. Bringing home a new kitten can be joyous for the family, but existing felines might feel differently. Create a smooth transition for them and the new kid on the block.
Set up an area complete with a water dish and food dish for your new kitten in a room that will remain completely closed off to other cats in your home. Cats need a place to hide so they can feel secure in their new surroundings. A bed to hide under or even a cat carrier with a fluffy blanket inside will do the trick. A little planning can go a long way. Set this room up before bringing the new guy home so the kitten's entrance into the home will be as drama-free as possible. Once the existing cats see that what you're carrying, you may hear a "cat choir" -- and not necessarily a happy one!
Take your new kitten into the enclosed room after his big arrival. Avoid letting the cats and the kitten see each other yet. It's key to allow them to gradually get used to one another. By placing them in separate rooms, they'll start to adjust to the scent of one another. Place your cats' food and water dishes near, but not extremely close to, the opposite side of the door of the separate room. By doing this, one of Ms. Kitty's favorite activities (eating, of course) becomes associated with that new scent lingering on the other side of the door.
Show love and affection to both your new kitten in her separate room and your cats. Both parties may be feeling a bit insecure and will need lots of love and affection during this transition because, let's face it, change is not high on the list of things a cat loves. Move the food dishes closer to the door a little bit each day. Encourage play between kitten and cats by getting a string toy that can be passed underneath the door.
Introduce your new kitten to other parts of the house after she has adjusted to her little "nook" and shows that she's comfortable eating and using her litter box. During this time, place your other cats in a separate, closed-off room. Allow your kitten a bit of time to roam on her own. Place a small piece of your kitten's blanket by your cats' food dish. This will help them get used to her smell.
Place a couple books or a doorstop on either side of the door, opened just enough that the cat and kittens can peek at one another. Stay present in case cat or kitten gets upset and the door needs to be closed. Existing cats may hiss upon seeing this new face, but that's to be expected. After at least a couple weeks have passed since bringing Kitten home, open the door and allow him to explore. Stay near to supervise. Again, some hissing action may take place, but rest assured this is normal. A dangling fishing pole toy can be a great distraction in this case, and new and established felines may even play together. The new one may still feel insecure being the new kitty in town for a bit, so keep a close eye during the transitional period.
- Practice patience. Cats adjust at their own pace; their getting used to a new member of the household will require your time and patience.
- If cats are intolerant of the new kitten, start the process over and keep the kitten in a separate area until more time has passed.
Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.