Introducing any pet into a household with an established routine can be upsetting – and not just for the newcomer, but also those pets who are already well-established in their current domestic habitat.
Cats in particular tend to appreciate their routines and space. They can also become extremely stressed if these are disrupted. A solitary animal by nature the feline tends to seek company when she feels like it and, as a rule, won’t appreciate being at the mercy of an over-enthusiastic kitten who just wants to play 24/7.
Characteristics to consider
If you want your cat and kitten to bond then, according to the experts, you’ve more chance of success if they’re of the opposite sex to each other (a recipe for disaster would be introducing another Tom cat of the same age, ensuring a hellfire battle for territory).
Like humans, cats have different personalities and if you have a quiet house cat it’ll get on better with a shy kitten rather than a hyperactive and mischievous little sprite.
Introductions – and separation!
When first bringing a kitten into your household, keep it in a separate room where your adult cat can’t enter for the first couple of days. It should have all his kit – litter box, scratching post etc and, of course, you there for company.
This way the kitten can build up its confidence in the knowledge the room is a safe place to run to if all goes wrong (which indeed it will the first time he meets your adult cat). In the meantime take a blanket the kitten has been sleeping on and let the adult cat smell it, and vice versa. This way they’ll get used to each other’s scent before they even set eyes on each other.
After a few days you could leave the door to the kitten’s room open and let junior venture out in the sure-fire knowledge he’ll meet your adult cat at some stage. Chances are the meeting will go something like this – a mutual stopping, staring, arching of backs, growling, hissing then running back to whence they came. This scenario will take all of around two minutes.
Gradually, as your cat and kitten get more and more used to each other, the hissing and growling should stop and they’ll begin to tolerate each other’s presence more.
There are also a few tips you should employ to make the bonding go smoother. Your older cat is bound to be a bit jealous of the newcomer, for instance, so try and fuss over her so she doesn’t feel left out. You could also try making sure there are plenty of treats around and play time activities whenever the two cats get together. That way the older cat should get to associate good things happening with the kitten. Eventually it should seem like they’ve never been apart and you can then think about the next pet you plan to introduce into your family!