Introducing a New Kitten to an Existing Cat
Introducing a kitten to an existing cat is not difficult but should be approached calmly and most of all gradually. Whatever adjustments you need to make for a week or few will far outweigh the challenges that will almost certainly arise from rushing the process or ignoring it at all. There’s more advice and guidance on this in our kitten guide.
The family who adopted Apollo from Saffy’s second litter sent us regular updates whilst they introduced him to their 2 year-old Bengal girl, Scout. They took great care to plan ahead and the end result was very successful. It may take longer if your existing cat is older but the key thing is to read the signs both cats give and take things at their pace. cApollo’s family have kindly given us permission to share the notes they sent to help other new owners. We’ve included a gallery below with pictures of these two beautiful cats enjoying each other’s company. Click on a picture for a larger view.
Day 1 – Evening
We are just settling in; there was a lot of traffic on the way home, but Apollo has been incredibly patient and well-behaved. He’s just sniffing around his new room now; being very inquisitive!
[Chorus Cats] No worries, he will certainly need his litter tray! Please keep an eye out for him doing a wee and having a drink after the long journey – he might be bursting!
I’m amazed he held it in; very well-behaved. All is well! Apollo is very cuddly, purring and exploring. I’m trying to share my affections between Scout (who is curious and just a tad worried). I’m just going to leave them to sniff each other through the crack under the door.
[Chorus Cats] Fab! Scout will get used to the smell of Apollo, and vice-versa.
Yes, I’m flitting between them, trying to keep Scout reassured (which seems sensible in the mid to long-term perspective) and Apollo happy. He’s so far very easy to please – a delight!
There’s been a lot of curiosity in both sides of the door, with sniffing and a bit of occasional hissing. Scout doesn’t get all fluffy anymore, and seems mainly curious, if I’m honest. I’m well aware that she might still find the new presence threatening, if too sudden, so I’m keeping them separate for a few more days, at least.
Apollo has eaten, drunk, been to the toilet, and is quite forward with wanting play and cuddles; no doubt he is feeling the big change, and needs time more than anything else. I’m trying to divide my time between them strategically, as I suspect the key to future harmony will be Scout’s acceptance. She’ll be bigger than Apollo for some time still, even if that will reverse later. Apollo seems to have plenty of aptitude for exploration and fun, so my gut feeling is to just let them settle in like this.
This morning, Scout is lying on her side by Apollo’s door, gently poking her paw in under the door. He had a good night’s sleep, and has had a solid meal. He is a lot less hectic than yesterday!
I should add that Scout seems almost blasé about Apollo now; she’s not even that interested when I’m in here, so I don’t think she’s feeling threatened by him at all now. It’s only when he calls out that she comes to find him, and I found her lying on her side, with one leg under the door, no claws and no attempt to do anything but ‘reach out’. 🙂
Next step, I think, is to ensure that Apollo feels as confident as he can, as well. He is doing all his business, and is *very* playful – quite possibly a bit under-stimulated, as I am a poor substitute for a whole litter of kittens. I’m doing my best to wear him out, but I am but a two-legged friend. He’s certainly not shy, and was all over my visitor. He had pouch food (and dry) yesterday; I’m trying the tins today (with dry).
[Chorus Cats] This sounds like great progress. Perhaps next might be to have scout come into the room with Apollo in his carrier, on his blanket? Lots of blanket swapping is bound to help too.
This evening, I let them sniff each other’s areas in tandem, without meeting each other face-to-face. Much sniffing ensued. Scout spent quite some time smelling Apollo’s tray and carrier; Apollo spent time sniffing Scout’s tray and favourite sleeping area. No hissing, no noise, no fear signals that I could see, just intense curiosity. No one has been fluffing up since Sunday evening now, and there is a lot of paw extensions under the door.
I *might* try an introduction tomorrow or Thursday evening, if it feels right. That’ll be 3/4 days in separate rooms. Apollo inside the carrier might be the best way to go about that. He’s eating well, and doing both kinds of business where he should be doing it, so the basics are all in place. He’s mainly intensely keen to explore further. So, fingers crossed, things are looking good, I think!
[Chorus Cats] Sounds just right, go with gut feel. I guess your children coming home will be a change that Apollo will have to embrace, so on balance introductions before then might be a good idea if the two cats seem ok about it.
I had Scout visit Apollo inside the carrier twice this morning, and she was primarily calm, getting gradually excited and a tiny bit feisty. I kept those sessions short, but then, this afternoon, she managed to push his door open, and they engineered a meeting that wasn’t quite planned. Nothing crazy ensued, they walked around each other, nice and calm, and as I had Apollo between my legs, she walked up and licked his face!
I let them explore a little independently (under supervision), and cut the session short after Scout got the wind up her tail (as she is wont to) and started chasing Apollo – still without aggression, but her tail began fluffing up after a couple of minutes (as she got excited). Apollo seemed unfazed, and actually seemed to enjoy the running around. Putting Apollo back in his room, he protested loudly, hell-bent on going back out to more excitement. Scout, equally, seemed keen on more, but I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want it to end in tears. It was very sweet when she licked his face 🙂
Second report of the day: My daughter is cuddling Apollo, Scout in my lap, holding them close enough to sniff and lick each other. Scout cleaned Apollo’s ears. After a little while she started moaning quietly, so we left it at that. Easy does it. But they’ve both had a good look-around in each other’s spaces twice today. We’ll keep this up for a few days or until they get a bit bored with it. There’s progress every time.
I think we have arrived at a point where things are genuinely settling. They’re currently checking out the house in tandem; i.e. Apollo is checking the house, and Scout is checking Apollo checking the house. They occasionally go different ways, and Scout comes to lie down on the floor with us. They’re taking turn in games of un-fluffy chase, that genuinely don’t seem aggressive. They’re both very much enjoying running around, being athletic cats. Interspersed with sniffing and licking. Fingers crossed, I think this is going to be fine!
I can proudly announce that I think we have arrived at pretty much full integration, less than a week after Apollo’s arrival. They now partially ignore each other, and Scout is particularly fond of washing Apollo’s bum (and his ears). All is well here.
[Chorus Cats] Have you tried going out for a while and leaving them together? It will be interesting to see when they start to snuggle up together.
I think I will try that this weekend, just for short periods to start with. Today has been very peaceful, I have to say. I’m not very worried, but it feels best to not leave them alone for too long on the first occasion…
Success! Scout and Apollo are now sleeping together, and have extensive mutual face cleaning as their settling down for sleep routine. Very sweet indeed. They spend some time a deux yesterday, and it seems to have bonded them further. Their temperaments are very well matched, I think – they take turn chasing each other around the house (no fluffy tails, no hissing or any other signals of stress), and come back for more if the other one finds something else to play with. Neither appear to dominate; they genuinely take turns. Both are energetic and athletic, as well as exceedingly playful. They more or less go in tandem, seeking each other’s company out, with little breaks now and then for individual contemplation.
I think this has gone absolutely as well as anyone could hope for. They’re both very chilled and cuddly with humans, too. Very happy!
Jupiter (now Jackson) sent a diary of his first few days – again we hope this is helpful to give a sense of what’s involved in introducing a new kitten to (in this case) an older cat.
Well, we said our goodbyes, very testing for us both and I was sad to see you upset when I left with M&D for my new home. It is with great thanks that you helped me into the world and ensured that I was healthy and so well looked after. It was a very exciting journey, being in my big cage helped but I found it fun to sit in my litter tray and slide around when we went around bends. I saw lots of huge trucks and in a field near my new home their were some big brown animals that I learned were cows. I settled in quickly and when it went dark M took me out and I snuggled into his duvet that he had on the settee downstairs.
I met Jackson today, he is a big boy and so loving. I think I am a bit of a mystery to him as I an so small. Stayed in my cage today and tell Mum I used my litter box just like I was shown. Eating well, I have the same food as I had at your home, so all is good.
Today, I was allowed out of my cage and looked all around my new house. There are so many places to explore and so many new things to see. I spent the day in our conservatory, nice and warm and bright. I have lots of toys as well as the ones you gave to me when I left. I slept downstairs again with M and his lovely duvet.
What an exciting day. My new home has big rooms that if all the doors are left open form a race circuit. The wood floors allow me to race around and skid down the hallway. Such fun. I play and play but get so tired so I sleep in the daytime in one of my towers. Eating well and using my litter tray for 1’s and 2’s. Today I slept upstairs in M’s bed. I slept all night, I am very happy.
Had a lie in today as I was so comfy. I had an exciting day, but I was told off. I thought taking a run up and climbing the curtains was great fun. D has had to take the net curtains down until I begin to slow down a little. I slept well again, all is good.
Played with my toys all day. My favourite is my mice which keep getting lost beneath the furniture so D has to fish them out with a long wooden spoon. Great day as I slept with Jackson, he is my best friend!