Introducing a kitten to a cat – a step-by-step guide

You’ve picked the perfect name and ticked off everything on your new kitten checklist. But there’s one thing still worrying you: introducing a kitten to an older cat. Will they get on? Or will your cat struggle to accept a furry sibling?

While introducing a kitten to a cat needs to be done with some consideration (for both!), many cats and kittens can end up living together in perfect harmony. Follow our simple step-by-step guide on how to introduce a kitten to a cat and you’ll give yourself the best chance of making the journey as smooth as possible.

Step 1 – Get ready

The process of introducing your new kitten to your cat starts before you bring them home. It’s a good idea for your kitten to have their own room for the first few days. So, pick which you’re going to use and equip it with everything they’ll need. That includes their own water and food bowls, toys, bedding and litter tray. While this is a temporary measure, it’s a good idea to have these things on-hand anyway. Even if they settle in well together, some cats are not happy to share!


Step 2 – Get them used to each other’s scent

The sooner you start the process of introducing a kitten to a cat, the smoother it’s likely to be. If you can organise with your breeder to get a blanket with the kitten’s scent on it, you can get your older cat used to their scent quicker.

Remember, this process isn’t a one-way street! So, make sure you have a blanket for your kitten and one for your older cat. Then use these to stroke them – particularly around their face and cheeks. When introducing a kitten to an older cat, it’s important not to force the issue. So, start by simply placing the blanket on the floor and letting them take a good sniff – if they want to. Some will. Others may not react at all. Others may react more strongly. A good understanding of cat body language can help you work out how they’re feeling.

Even if they react badly, don’t give up! It can take time to get used to the new scent. If your older cat lies on the blanket, or rubs against it when you offer it to them, you should be ready to move to the next step….

Step 3 – Make the introduction

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When deciding how to introduce cats and kittens, it pays to be patient. The first time they meet face-to-face, make sure you have a simple way of separating them. That could be anything from a stairgate, keeping the kitten in their room, to a large blanket you can use to wrap one up, if fighting does break out.

You may recognise obvious ‘stay away’ signals, like your cat hissing at a new kitten. But, until they’re properly socialised, the kitten may not. That’s why it’s good to let your older cat lead the way. Let them approach the kitten in their own time, making sure they always have somewhere to escape unwanted attention – such a high place the kitten can’t yet reach.

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Step 4 – Supervised space sharing

Once they seem relaxed with each other, you can gradually allow them more freedom to interact. Remember it’s still part of the process of gradually introducing a kitten to a cat, so you’ll need to keep supervising for a while longer.

While they may be happy sharing space, sharing things may be a different matter. So, make sure your kitten can always get back to their own things. Your older cat probably won’t appreciate a kitten eating their food and it’s likely they’ll be eating different food, specifically designed for their different ages. So, always make sure you place your older cat’s bowl out of your kitten’s reach.


Step 5 – Sharing the love

As they grow comfortable with each other, you may find your cat and kitten don’t mind sharing things. But if they don’t, all is not lost. You can easily lead by example, by making sure you share your time and affection with both equally. This will encourage them to see each other as part of the same social group and keep fostering a more harmonious partnership after the initial process of introducing a kitten to a cat is complete.

There’s enough to worry about with a new kitten, without worrying about how your older cat will react. Hopefully, this step-by-step guide to introducing a kitten to an older cat has helped put your mind at rest – and given you some good ideas to make the process as smooth as possible. For more advice on caring for your new family member, check out our pro tips for new kitten parents.

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