How to Introduce a Kitten to a Cat — Steps to Take for a Harmonious Household

Cats are incredible company, with their playful personalities and cute antics that can keep owners amused for hours.

However, having just one cat in your life may not be enough for some, and there can be a strong temptation to add a kitten to your family.

But be advised caution is key when considering another feline, and following some simple steps can be crucial to the successful integration of a new cat.

Here's how to introduce a kitten to a cat and how to encourage them to get along, according to the experts.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, author and Cat Behavior Associates expert, believes care must always be taken for the sake of both parties when bringing such strangers into the home.

She told Newsweek: "Introducing a kitten to an adult cat requires making sure the cat doesn't get overwhelmed by the energetic little newcomer.

"Kittens don't have a strong sense of territory yet and they certainly have an endless supply of playful energy. That playfulness can be too in-your-face when it comes to an adult cat."

How to Introduce Kittens to Cats

Johnson-Bennett believes the key to a good introduction is to set up the newcomer in a separate room and do a gradual introduction.

She said: "Even though the kitten will likely be ready to make friends, the adult cat's sense of territorial protection will take over.

"Do short sessions of introduction and let the adult cat set the pace of how much interaction is wanted. Go one sense at a time—scent, hearing, visual, and then touch.

"Don't move to the next phase until the adult cat is comfortable."

How to Introduce a Kitten To A
It is always going to be potentially difficult to introduce a new cat to an incumbent kitty Ben-Schonewille/Getty Images

Introduce Cats and Kittens By Scent First

Another key part of the introducing a kitten to a cat involves first giving your pet something that smells like the newcomer.

Johnson-Bennett said: "For scent, gently rub the kitten with a small cloth to collect scent and then place that cloth in the adult cat's part of the house. Reward the cat for any positive or neutral response.

"Basically, it comes down to giving the adult cat a reason to like the kitten and that's done through creating positive associations.

"Offer treats, or whatever the adult cat views as a reward for sniffing the scent or even just walking by the scented cloth."

How to Introduce a Kitten To Cat
There is unfortunately no guarantee cats in a householld will happily accept one another Liliya Kulianionak/Getty Images

Be Patient

It always pays not to rush introducing newcomers to an older cat, as felines are creatures of habit and may resent the intrusion of a young feline.

Johnson-Bennett said: "Reward the cat or offer playtime when hearing the kitten in the other room.

"Work up to letting the adult cat see the kitten while being ready to distract with a treat or some toys.

"Keep sessions short and positive. Spend time playing with the kitten to work off some of that youthful energy before each session."

How to Introduce a Kitten To Cat
The acclimatization period can range from several days to a couple of weeks koufax73/Getty Images

Initially Provide Cats With Separate Space

Keeping a new kitten in a separate room from your resident cat can pay dividends in the long term.

Johnson-Bennett said: "One other aspect of a successful introduction is to ensure the adult cat's resources and cherished personal areas remain secure. Provide an extra litter box, bed, scratching posts, etc.

"A kitten is a non-stop ball of energy and if the adult cat is a senior then this addition may not necessarily be beneficial.

"Senior and geriatric cats are very vulnerable to stress and that's the last thing you want to introduce into their lives.

"Carefully think about your adult cat's situation when considering adopting a kitten."

How to Introduce a Kitten To Cat
Getting the introduction right first time can make an enormous difference to the cats' perceptions of each other Volodymyr_Plysiuk/Getty Images

The Face-To-Face Introduction

When readying the older cat for the all-important step of finally set eyes on the new feline, it is recommended to arrange for it to choose to move towards or away from your kitten without being followed.

This is because youngsters have much to learn about social interactions, and older cats may give out subtle signals that they do not wish to be followed.

Should the kitten consequently fail to understand such signals, this could result in a potentially violent response from your older animal.

Experts at the four-legged friends site Vets4Pets suggests this can involve having something as simple as a stair gate across the door to the kitten's area.

Another option could or to place the minor in a puppy crate and introducing the elder so it can walk up to the kitten at its leisure.

In a similar way to that in which you introduced the kitten's scent, you can then allow your cat to get used to the idea of having another cat in the family.

Cats
Having cats that get along can considerably slash your pet's stress levels dvulikaia/Getty Images

How to Get Cats to Get Along

Although it is normal for your pets to have the occasional disagreement, it is important for owners to intervene to stop problems from escalating.

Fortunately, there are many opportunities to encourage pets to be friends rather than foes, or at least a little more civil.

Pam Johnson-Bennett said: "sociability centered around resource availability" is often responsible for disputes.

As a result, she believes identifying each cat's personal preferred areas and ensuring easy access to resources is key to having a harmonious household.

"For example, litter boxes should outnumber the cats by one and the boxes should be spread throughout the environment.

"Don't line them up in one room because a cat may end up guarding that spot. Make sure there are scratching posts, bedding, elevated options and hiding places in all preferred areas, so cats aren't forced to share.

"When it comes to mealtime, give cats their own bowls to prevent intimidation and meal takeovers. Cats aren't social eaters and having to compete for food out of one bowl can create tension.

How to Encourage Cats To Get Along
Bringing a new cat into the household can upset the current hierarchy Nataba/Getty Images

Tips to Encourage Cats to Get Along

Understanding your cats' psychology can be key to them contentedly living together.

Giving cats attention and rewards can encourage calm behaviors, while redirecting violent behavior before it escalates with an enticing distraction such as a toy or a tasty treat can also work.

Finally, you should trust your intuition and instincts, as you know your pet the best.
If you've followed all the tips on how to introduce a kitten to a cat and are still seeing problems, it may be time to speak to a professional.

Should your normally calm and peaceful pet begin to get a little aggressive towards your new arrival, check with a vet nothing is wrong, as hostile behavior can occasionally indicate your cat is a little unwell.