Introducing a New Kitten
Bringing home a new cat or kitten is an exciting event, but the addition of this new pet can be stressful for the existing feline family member. Taking some preparatory steps beforehand and planning a gradual introduction process can help make for a more peaceful integration process.
Begin by making sure your existing cat or cats have places to seek refuge such as a cat tree. Reward them for spending time in such spots, particularly if they are new. Purchasing a synthetic pheromone spray or diffuser called Feliway can help to relieve anxiety and may help to reduce possible aggression. Apply the pheromone regularly in the cat areas of the home.
Make sure you have an increased number of litter pans and feeding places. At least one litter pan per cat, or one per cat plus an additional one is ideal! Establish an isolated place to start the new cat or kitten in. This could be a spare room or bathroom, if space is limited. This will allow the cats to begin getting used to each other’s sites and sounds slowly before they are face to face. This can not only reduce stress, but give you time to establish that the new member of the house is healthy. Plan to schedule a checkup for your new friend before allowing them full access to your other pets.
Feline specialist, Dr. Ilona Rodan, has suggested rewarding the cats for calmly sniffing each other under the door with treats. After a time, towels rubbed on the cats can be swapped to test the reaction to each other’s scents. If this does not provoke an aggressive response, you can begin to crack the door to allow cats to sniff noses and see each other. Go through each of these steps over time before allowing the cats to share the same room; and then do so with supervision. If at any phase the process does not go well, retreat a step and proceed more slowly.
Some cats may adjust quickly and others may need more time! Hopefully, your kitties will have a long and enjoyable friendship!
Dr. Kimberly Schultz graduated from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997 after completing a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She practiced in Virginia for several years before joining Friendship in 2004. Dr. Schultz works in our Primary Care and Emergency & Critical Care departments.
* Images courtesy of Friendship Hospital for Animals.