Millennium Post

Breaking the ice

During the initial phase, it is important to allow both the new kitten and your resident cat to get used to each other’s scents but the process should unfold step by step

Breaking the ice

I recently adopted a new kitten. What should I do to make my resident cat bond well with her?

Here are few steps to follow when it comes to introducing your new kitten to your resident cat:

It is not advisable to bring your cat home and immediately introduce it to your resident cat. The kitten should be placed in a safe room with its toys, bed, litter box and food where your resident cat doesn't sleep every night. The safe room allows your kitten to get used to the sounds and smells of your home, and allows your resident cat to get used to the smells of a new cat without the threat of it. Keep the kitten in the safe room for 1-2 weeks. During those 1-2 weeks the kitten will stop smelling like the shelter or breeder it came from, and will rather start smelling like your home, which is less threatening to your resident cat. It will also allow for the kitten to be cleared health wise to make sure s/he is not bringing home any diseases to your resident cat.

It is important to allow both the new kitten and your cat to get used to each other's scents. To start off the process, take a soft cloth, or a clean sock, and wipe it around the new kitten's face, under the chin, ear to ear, where some of the scent glands are located. Once you have the scent on the towel, offer it to the kitten or cat and do the same with the opposite.

Once the kitten's health has been cleared by a vet, you can take the kitten from the safe room (maybe about the first week, depending on how curious your kitten is) and put your resident cat in the safe room for an hour. Allow the resident cat to smell the entire room, use the litter box, eat the kitten's food (assuming your resident kitty has no health issues) and more. Facilitate a face-to-face meeting. You can put up a baby gate in the doorway of the safe room and allow the kitten and resident cat to approach each other in their own time. Or, you can put the kitten in a carrier that smells like your resident cat, and then bring the kitten in the closed carrier into the resident cat's area and set it down. Allow the resident cat to approach the carrier in his or her own time—smelling, hissing, etc. Once the cats seem to be calm at the sight of each other, it is probably safe to introduce the two without barriers like the pet carrier and baby gate. Make sure that they are supervised during this initial meeting. If there are any problems during this time, go back a step to allow each cat more time to view each other on opposite sides of the baby gate.

It is best to have one person hold the kitten and another hold the resident cat. If the cats do well for a short time at a great distance, the next day repeat the process by decreasing the distance between them by a foot or two and increase the time they have to check each other out. On the first day start about 10 feet apart for 5 minutes, the next day try 8 feet apart for 10 minutes and so on.

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