So You Just Brought Home a Brand New Kitty…
If you’re a cat owner, you may have experienced this scenario before. You discover an adorable little kitten and decide you want him to join your household. But when you bring him home, you learn that your normally sweet, easy-going (and current boss of the house) cat doesn’t find the new visitor to be so cute.
Next thing you know, there’s hissing, growling, and general terrorizing of the new guy, leading to him hiding under the nearest piece of furniture and trembling in fear. So how can you ease this transition and fully restore kitty harmony in your home?
The good news is that while your cats may never become the best of cat friends, most housecats, although they are generally solitary animals, do find ways to get along. Some just might even act like littermates after a while, but you must be patient. Here are a few tips for bringing your cats together when you’ve just brought a new kitten home.
1. Keep Your Old and New Cats Separated at First
Whatever you do, don’t just toss the new kitten right into the mix. This will terrify the kitten and antagonize your existing cat.
Instead, keep the new cat segregated in its own room or section of the house, with its own food, water, bed and litter. You can also provide them with more of a sense of security by keeping them together with the cat carrier you brought them home in, and the blanket you wrapped them up with.
This transition period will help the cats get used to each others’ smells, and will let the new kitten pick up the smell of your home before getting too close to the other cat. And on that note….
2. Mingle the Cat’s and Kitten’s Scents
The more the cats smell like each other, the easier it will be for them to get friendly.
Get in the habit of petting one and then petting the other without washing your hands in between. Switch elements of their beds or bedding from time to time, so their beds start to smell like each other.
You can even try rubbing a cloth on the scent glands of the face of each cat, and then rubbing that cloth on the furniture to further disseminate and mix their smells.
3. Let the Cats Meet While Separated
After a week or so, maintain a slow transition by letting the cats see and sniff each other through a gate or partition. This way, they can get to know each other, but still retreat to a safe space the other cat cannot access if they get nervous.
If you immediately get heated hissing and growling from either side, you may need to give the cats a little more separation time before finally bringing them together.
4. Give Each Cat His Own Separate Facilities
Once you have put both cats together in a shared environment, don’t force the closeness. Make sure they each have their own bed, and not right next to each other.
It may not be practical to spread two sets of food dishes, water dishes and litter boxes out to different areas of the house, but you can still make sure they each have their own set. They may well decide to start sharing on their own, but give them the choice at first.
This will reduce tension and let each cat feel independent, so that they can befriend the other on their own terms and when they’re really ready. If your cats feel in control of their situation, they are much more likely to be amenable to giving you the positive result you’re looking for.
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