Ask the Expert.. May June 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I have a five years old cat (male) and want to get another three and a half months old kitten in. How should I introduce them and take care of both of them? Is it ok to adopt a female cat or should I look at adopting a male cat?
– Sudhakar, Gurgaon

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons to add another cat to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new cat is a huge change for an older cat – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. When a new cat is introduced into the household, it is wise to let her familiarise herself with her surroundings before she meets any resident cats or other animals. Here are a few ways you can help make the process of introducing your older cat to a new cat less stressful: All you need to do is rub your new kitten with an old piece of your clothing, one that holds your smell. That way, your new kitten will already have something familiar about her and will be accepted more easily. Since your new kitten is still young, there shouldn’t be any major problems. The pecking order will immediately be determined by the difference in ages. In most cases, the kitten will follow the lead of the older cat, who’ll protect the new and vulnerable arrival. It’s slightly more tricky if an older kitten is being introduced to a younger one, since her more developed self-confidence can lead to minor fights. Tom cats may establish a territory which is ten times larger than that of queens. In this case, start by making much more fuss of the younger kitten and then let the two of them settle. While they get used to each other, make sure that they have separate food and water bowls, and their own sleeping places and litter trays. Feeding old cat first at meal times is a good trick. They’ll soon be completely content in each other’s company.