Friday, 11 November 2011

Bringing Home a New Kitten to an Older Cat

Introducing a new kitten to your family cat can be a bit of a worry. I've had both female and male kittens when I've had an older cat of the opposite sex and it's always been stressful. There are people who say that once a cat has been neutered it won't matter there sex. Maybe that's true for some people but it didn't work for me. Other theories suggest that they will get on better if they're opposites but I have found that on two occasions this hasn't worked. When I had an old male cat and brought home a female kitten he was terrified. As tiny as she was she made it clear that she was in charge from the start. Poor old man. So when he passed away and I looked at getting a friend for her I thought I'd do it the other way round and look for a male kitten. That didn't work either. She soon put him in his place. However, now that he's a big boy and has fallen head over heels in love with her they get on great. Of course she will still pin him down when he's missed a bit when washing, but other than that they both enjoy each others company. 

So what steps can you take to give the new member of your family a head start with the resident cat. 

First of all make sure you have some time to devote to settling them in. They will be very stressed if you're not around enough. Remember they've just been separated from their mother and this new home is dauntingly large and has new smells they don't recognise. 

Then choose a room for the kitten to stay in for a few days. Buy a new litter tray, bed, scratch post and cat toys. It's not advisable to use anything from the other cat as the kitten needs to start off establishing his own scent on his toys. Also use new cat bowls for food and water. Don't allow your other cat in the room. They will be able to sense that the other is there and that will be enough for them to cope with in the beginning. It will also allow them both to get used to the others scent without having to meet straight away. 

Try and act as normal as possible with your other cat. Of course when they come to you a lot of affection will be needed and the occasional treat will be greatly received. They don't want you to forget that they are top cat. It will also make it easier when the kitten is introduced as the other cat will feel more secure that you love them just as much as you did before. 

After a while you can bring an item to your cat that your new kitten has been playing with and vice versa to help with scent swapping. 

Now, for the introduction.... 

Leave the door ajar and let them meet in their own time. Be present for this first meeting. If you can, take a few days off to be around as much as possible, if not try to do this over a weekend. 

They will hiss at each other, don't interfere. They will probably growl and paw at each other, don't interfere. There may even be a bit of fur flying as well, only separate them if it gets nasty. 

Never shout or punish either cat, this is normal behaviour in the feline world, they will just be sorting out cat rank and house position between them. 

Keep the kitten bowls, beds and litter tray in their room as your cat will be very upset if his or her pattern is messed up. Territory is being mapped out between them at this time. It is also a safe place for your kitten to retreat to if it all becomes a bit too much. 

After a few days try to encourage them to play together. Nothing complicated a simple ball or string game. Chances are your older cat will watch, stretch, yawn and walk off, but at least it's some interaction between them. 

As cute as this little bundle of fur is don't forget to give your other cat equal attention, jealousy in a cat is a scary thing! Don't think your older cat will forgive you. 

They can take months even a year to get used to each other. Remember cats are very independent and are used to being the bosses in life, so they will get there when they get there. 

Of course you can try and follow every tip in the world, but there is always the chance that they won't get along simply because their characters clash. There are so many tips out there, my personal one, which I have tried and tested, has worked for me. Most people will completely disagree and pretty much every pet site will say the opposite to me, but whenever I've had two neutered cats of the same sex it has worked every time.

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