‘Two’gether in the happiness– Bond new kitten to an oldie like a pro!

A senior resident cat can become unnerved by a rambunctious young kitten in her established territory, leading to adjustment issues. Preparing your cat for the arrival of a new member beforehand can increase the probability of her adapting to her new housemate.

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Introducing a kitten to a senior cat is a delicate process that could cause plenty of stress if not handled properly. Cats, being solitary animals, are not instinctively wired to welcome new cats into their domain.

Here are a few tips that can help make the transition process seem less drastic for your resident cat:

Rooting for realistic expectations

Studies have shown that cat introductions are likely to fail 50 % of the time. Cats are averse to change. Your cat might never approve of the new member despite your best efforts. In such cases, a non-violent co-existence is the best you can hope.

Kitten’s ‘purr’snality matters

Unlike dogs and humans, senior cats usually prefer to spend their golden years alone. Most of them develop some degree of arthritis with age and move and lounge about on their terms. Introducing an energetic kitten to your senior cat is not a wise idea. The kitten will pester the geriatric cat to play, while the latter will want to sit and bask in the sunshine. Try to select a kitten with a laidback personality.

The younger the kitten, the better

Nitya Ramachandran
Nitya Ramachandran

Any new cat you bring home could initially be viewed as a threat by your senior cat, evoking a fear response. However tiny the kitten might be, scent-wise, it is still an intruder. Nevertheless, the smaller that new cat, the less threatening she will be perceived as, which means a shorter adjustment period for both felines.

Senior – Keep calm and carry on

Consult your veterinarian and start using holistic calming products a couple of weeks before the kitten’s scheduled arrival to ease the transition process for your resident cat. Pheromones, available in diffusers, sprays, wipes, etc., help create a calm environment for any cat. Nutritional supplements can also help her feel relaxed without drugging her.

Old is gold – so take care of
her health

Make sure your older cat is healthy before bringing in the kitten. You want your senior pal to be physically prepared to handle the change. Her immune system should be strong enough to fight off any possible infections. Ensure that her rabies vaccine is up to date.

Double the cat supplies for
double the happiness

Cats aren’t inclined to share their possessions and get stressed by limited access to resources. Before bringing home your new kitten, double all the cat supplies such as litter boxes, food, water dishes, scratching posts, cat beds, cat toys, etc. Distribute these throughout the house, as cats do not like crossing paths with another cat when attempting to access a resource.

Create vertical space

Cats are very fond of vertical spaces. Vertical perching spots can be helpful while introducing two cats to each other. Remember that your senior cat may have trouble jumping and would be grateful for some lower vantage points.

A temporary room for the kitten

Make sure to give the new kitten his space before introducing him to your resident cat. Ensure that this space has everything he will need, such as cat food, water, a litter box, toys, a bed, a scratching post, and a cat tree. It will give him a safe place to get used to his new surroundings. Place these items in the room about a week before the kitten’s arrival so your senior cat can sniff them and get used to all the new things. Include items with the kitten’s scent to get your older cat intrigued.

Positive association

The two cats should be able to hear and sniff each other through the doors but not see each other. It will help them get used to the idea of another cat. Give treats to both cats near their respective doors so that they begin to associate the smell and sound of each other with a positive experience. Lavish your older cat with attention after playing with your kitten.

Superpower of scents

After about a week, when your cats seem to have relaxed, exchange their beds so they can get accustomed to each other’s scent while still enjoying the comfort and safety of their spaces. Repeat this till they seem to get comfortable with the new scent.

Time for a real-
life meeting!

Place a baby gate at the door to your kitten’s room. Under your supervision, allow the cats to interact with each other through the gate for a few minutes. Look out for signs of stress or aggression. Gradually increase the number of supervised visits until your cats look relaxed in each other’s presence.

Cautious face-to-face
introduction

Under your watchful eye, let your kitten explore the house. Allow your senior cat to observe the kitten’s exploration. Do not force interaction between the two felines. Leave it to your older cat to decide if she wants to approach the kitten or retreat. Keep a flat piece of cardboard handy in case a fight ensues. Use cardboard to separate the cats.

Spend time ‘Two’gether

Use a cat toy, such as a feather wand or laser pointer, to play with both cats simultaneously. It will encourage mutual activity. Praise and pet both cats when they’re playing together. It will help them associate each other with positive experiences.

Establishing boundaries

Cats need order, and a new member in the home must learn the rules. Your older cat may try to establish boundaries by hissing and swatting at the kitten when the latter does something unfavorable. It is normal and does not require interference on your part.

Slow and steady always wins

Remember to be patient. A common mistake is to rush the socialization between cats and then get mad or frustrated when it doesn’t work out. Keep calm and work in increments to bring the cats together.

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