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28.09.2022

How to introduce a kitten to a cat—do it right, and they’ll be friends forever

Bringing a new kitten into your family is beyond exciting, but if you already have a feline companion, you must make sure that everyone in the family gets along.

Cats are wonderful companions capable of giving endless love. While most enjoy having company, remember that felines generally don't like change and can be pretty territorial. You must be cautious when introducing a new kitty to your existing one.

To help you make the first contact pleasant and stress-free, Untamed gives helpful tips on how to introduce a kitten to a cat. Get detailed instructions on how to avoid aggression and ensure everybody becomes mates from the start.

Introducing a kitten to a cat—steps to take

Besides being territorial, cats also tend to be solitary animals. Even if your feline friend has a friendly and affectionate disposition, they might not respond well to a new pet in the household right off the bat.

The suspicion is perfectly understandable. Kittens are energetic and can behave like little pests, while your adult kitty may want to relax and chill all day. They may not like to be bothered by the eager little kitten constantly invading their space and privacy.

Besides stress, a new kitten may cause a whole host of emotions, including:

  • Jealousy
  • Discomfort
  • Hostility

Keep in mind that no matter how poorly your cat reacts to the kitten initially, it doesn't mean they won't warm up to them later. You can help them get there by following these steps:

  1. Ensure both cats are healthy
  2. Create a safe and separate space for your new kitten
  3. Start with the scent
  4. Let the kitties see each other
  5. Keep the initial meetings short
  6. Let your cats eat together

Ensure your cats are healthy

Don't start with introductions before you get a green light from the vet. The new kitten should get all their vaccinations and antiparasitic meds before they can mix with other animals. Kittens are particularly prone to various infections, so spending time with grown-up cats is risky.

Preparing your older cat is essential. Their physical and mental health plays a significant role in how the introduction will go. If your kitty is not well, the additional stress of meeting a new family member may aggravate the problem. It would be best to take them to the vet for a check-up both for their and the new kitten's sake.

Make sure their vaccines are up to date in case there is some biting and scratching between the cats.

Create a safe and separate space for your new kitten

Before you bring a new kitten home, find a safe place for them and equip it with the basics.

Source: Fatima Garcia

Before bringing a tiny furball to your home, designate a space for them. Pick an area your older cat doesn't spend much time in so they don't feel like you have taken something from them.

It should be a separate room that your existing cat can't access and where there isn't much foot traffic and noise. Your new kitty should feel safe so they can get used to their new home without feeling overwhelmed.

Get the following equipment for your new kitten:

  • A bed
  • Food and water bowls
  • A scratching post or mat
  • A litter box
  • Plenty of toys

Start with the scent

Felines use pheromones to mark their territory, so it may take some time before they get used to sharing their space with someone new. It's best to begin the introduction by allowing your kitties to get used to each other’s scent.

You can take the blanket or the bed each cat has been sleeping on and swap them. Repeat it after a few days. Let your kitten and the older cat examine the items at their own pace. Don't put them onto the item or expect them to sleep in it immediately.

Monitor how the cats react to each other's smell. In case of extreme reactions such as hissing, keep swapping their beds or blankets until they are desensitised to the other kitty's scent.

Another option is to pet one kitty and let the other sniff your hands right after. You can also let one cat into the other's space while the other cat is not there and let them explore it.

Let the kitties sea each other

Don’t let your cat and the new kitten interact before they feel comfortable seeing each other.

Source: Maria

After your kitties have got used to each other's scent, you can let them see each other from a distance. This meeting should be short because you don't want to push them or provoke unwanted behaviour.

Let them see each other through a glass door or plastic screen to allow visual contact but avoid physical interaction.

Let the kitties observe each other briefly and watch how they react. Some kitties are more curious, while others are fearful. If you live with someone, it would be great if you could play with both kitties on either side of the barrier during these meetings.

Repeat this until you are confident both cats feel comfortable seeing each other.

Start with supervised meetings

The next step is allowing your new kitten and the older cat to meet face-to-face.

The first meeting should be short, and you can gradually increase the time they spend together. All cats are unique, so how slow or fast you go will depends on your kitties. Older cats generally take more time to accept new feline friends, so this stage may take a while.

Whenever your two kitties are together, monitor them closely. Upon the first sign of tension or aggression, stop the session, and try again when both kitties are calm and comfortable.

When both cats feel comfortable around each other, it's a clear sign they are getting used to living together.

If your kitties signal that they want to spend time together, it’s a sign they have established a bond.

Source: Mariellem Oliveira

Feed your cats together

Once your kitties are used to spending time with each other, you can proceed to the next step—feeding them in the same room. Eating together will help them associate their time together with something pleasant.

The cats should be close enough to see each other, but they shouldn’t be able to reach each other's bowls. Don’t leave them alone during meal time. Once they've finished, let them retire to their space.

If they want to interact after the meal, your kitties have established a relationship. Sings that your kitties have bonded include:

  • Grooming each other
  • Snuggling
  • Haring their favourite toys
  • Sleeping together
  • Being close to each other constantly

Additional tips for introducing a kitten to an older cat

While implementing all the steps for introducing your feline companions, you must:

  1. Be patient
  2. Learn to recognise warning signs
  3. Let your older cat establish boundaries
  4. Give plenty of treats
  5. Maintain a routine

Patience is crucial

It may take time before your cat accepts the kitten, so be patient and don’t try to force them.

Source: Chang Duong

Before introducing your new kitten to your older cat, arm yourself with patience. Getting them to spend time together with no issues may take some time. While it's possible they’ll hit it off immediately, you must accept that this is not always the case. It's perfectly normal for cats not to get along straightaway.

Don’t force the friendship because you can make matters complicated. Your task is to help them get to know each other and develop a relationship on their terms and pace.

If things are not going as you imagined, never resort to punishment, even if one of the kitties reacts aggressively. Punishment will make one cat associate negative feelings with the other, which can prolong the adjustment period or sentence their relationship to doom.

Recognise warning signs

As your kitties are getting used to each other, you must monitor them closely. The moment you recognise any warning signs, you must separate them.

Here's what to pay attention to:

Problem

Explanation

Stress

Bringing another cat into your home is one of the biggest stressors for your feline companion. Watch out for these signs:

  • Urination outside the litter box
  • Excessive meowing
  • Abnormal grooming
  • Hiding
  • Loss of appetite

Talk to your vet if you notice the signs of stress to get advice on minimising anxiety and calming your kitties

Chasing 

Cat fights usually start as a chase. You must control the situation to separate them on time and prevent mayhem

Serious fights

Chasing, play-fighting, or competing for toys are ways to establish hierarchy, but they can also escalate into a full-blown fight. 

Signs that your kitties are about to resort to violence include:

  • Hissing
  • Making loud and continuous noises
  • Puffing up the fur
  • Glaring with their pupils dilated

If your kitties get into a serious fight, don’t try to separate them with your bare hands. Get a blanket, throw it on one of them, and use it to carry them away from the other cat

Let your older cat establish boundaries and a hierarchy

Cats like order, so when a new kitten arrives, they must learn where they are in the hierarchy. Let your older cat show them the boundaries and establish the role of the dominant feline.

If your older cat hisses at the kitten when they do something unfavourable, don't intervene immediately. This is a normal teaching process. You don't need to react as long as it doesn't go further than hissing or pounding. 

Give plenty of treats

Throughout the entire introduction process, treat both kitties whenever they behave nicely. The goal is to help them associate the other cat's presence with something pleasant and positive. By doing so, you will also reinforce good behaviour.

Treats help your cats associate experiences with something positive.

Source: Kelly

Maintain a routine

Felines love routine. Scheduling the meeting sessions, feeding times, and playtime (and sticking to the routine) will boost your cat's trust and make them feel secure. It will also help minimise stress.

Take good care of your new kitten and the older cat

During the introduction period, keeping your cats happy and healthy is particularly important. You can do it by:

  1. Giving them attention and affection
  2. Feeding them a healthy diet

Give your kitties plenty of attention

The best way to help your cats overcome anxiety is to spend time with them. Dedicate at least half an hour twice a day to playtime with your kitties (separately).

It will help your older cat feel accepted and appreciated, while the kitten will get used to the new home faster and establish a bond with their new cat parents. It is also a perfect moment to start training the kitten.

Feeding your kitties a healthy diet

The diet is a crucial aspect of caring for your feline friends. You must feed your cats well-balanced meals to ensure they get the required nutrients to stay healthy, friendly, and well-behaved.

The diet keeps your kitties healthy and can impact their mood.

Image (c) Untamed

What is a well-balanced feline diet?

To meet your kitties' dietary needs, give them food with:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Animal fat
  3. Zero (or almost no) carbs

Animal protein

Whatever the type of cat foodwet, drysemi-moist, raw, or homemademeat or fish should be its first ingredient.

Animal protein is the primary energy source for cats and the only viable source of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids like taurine, necessary for:

  • Normal organ function
  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Strong muscles
  • Strong teeth and bones
  • Good digestive health

The table below presents the best sources of animal protein:

Regular meals

Occasional treats (because of high fat content)

Since cats are obligate carnivores, vegan or vegetarian diets will not cut it, so avoid products containing vegetable protein from:

While vegetables are not toxic to felines, they can cause various gastrointestinal problems, such as:

Animal fat

Animal fat is a natural taste enhancer ensuring felines love their food. More importantly, fat delivers fatty acids crucial for:

  • Skin and fur health
  • Inflammatory response
  • Healing
  • Nutrient transport and absorption

Some yummy animal fat can keep your cats happy and more in the mood to meet and accept new friends.

No carbs

Cats don't need carbs. They can't process them, so carbohydrates are useless in the feline diet.

Feeding your kitty grains, fruit, vegetables, bread, or sweets regularly can lead to unnecessary weight gain and the following related health problems:

Check out the ideal composition of cat food in the table below:

Nutrient

Optimal percentage

Animal protein

More than 50%

Animal fat

Up to 20%

Carbohydrates

Less than 3%

Get Untamed—let your kitties' friendship start with a feast

Untamed can improve your kitties’ mood and make them happy interacting with other felines. 

Image (c) Untamed

Untamed meals are delicious and provide an ideal protein-to-fat ratio, ensuring your feline companions are well-fed, in a good mood, and ready to socialise.

Our products are easy to digest, so upset stomachs won't ruin your kitties' bonding sessions. 

Your feline friend will thrive on our meals because they are:

  1. High-protein—Untamed jellies and gravies contain two times more animal protein than most commercially sold products
  2. Human-grade quality—We only use the highest quality whole meat and fish
  3. Allergen-free—We know how agonising cat food allergies can be, so all our products are entirely free from all known allergens and questionable ingredients, including grains, nuts, eggs, dairy, artificial taste enhancers, and meat derivatives. We also created two single-protein dishes for particularly sensitive felines—Chocka Chicken in Jelly and Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly
  4. Vet-formulated—We cooperated with vets to design balanced and complete meals suitable for kitties at any life stage (kittens who need nutritious meals to grow, adults with high energy needs, and seniors with no teeth and struggling to keep their muscle tone) regardless of their sterilisation status

Untamed cares deeply about the environment, so we keep our production aligned with the highest ethical principles:

  • We work with sustainable and cruelty-free suppliers
  • Our packaging is fully recyclable
  • Our entire supply chain is carbon footprint neutral

Try Untamed now and watch your cats grow stronger and healthier by the day!

How to order Untamed

Ordering healthy and delicious cat food online is simple with Untamed. To get a trial pack, you should:

  1. Take our online quiz 
  2. Select products and create a tailor-made meal plan
  3. Place your order

The package will arrive at your doorstep in a day. When your kitties choose their favourites, we can replenish your stock monthly. You can use your online account to modify, postpone, skip, or cancel your order anytime.

According to our clients, you can expect palpable results soon after switching your furry companion to Untamed. Here is what they say happens:

  1. After a week—Regular bowel movement, no mood swings, and a tidy litter tray
  2. After two months—Easy digestion, no excessive shedding, and a shinier coat
  3. Within four months—Fewer hairballs, improved muscle tone, and no dental issues
  4. Long-term—Natural weight management, healthy eating habits, and improved overall health