A new pet is a new family member. Here is the most effective way to introduce your kitten to the family without causing any sibling rivalry!
Your new cat and your family
When you bring kittens home, let them rest and get their bearings first. Once they’re ready, you can start introducing them to their new human family.
Get everyone to sit on the floor and only touch the kitten if approached. There should be no grabbing or arguing. If kittens hide, tempt them out with a toy or a treat – encourage but don’t force them to be sociable.
If you have children, they will need to learn how to handle kittens properly.
- Teach them how to stroke the cat gently. Toddlers generally 'pat', which can hurt.
- Teach them where to stroke kittens – the top of the head and along the back.
- Although tummies are irresistible when a kitten is rolling and playing, most are rather sensitive about this area and may lash out.
- The litter tray is not a sandpit – so don’t let young children play in it!
- Your kitten should always be left alone when eating, toileting, or sleeping.
- Tails should never be pulled.
- Hands should be washed after handling the kitten and the litter tray.
Introducing your new cat to other cats
Most cats will eventually accept a newcomer, though it depends on the personalities involved. Let your kitten settle in for a couple of days before any introductions are made.
- Play it safe and use an indoor pen or carrier to protect your new arrival from any over-reaction from the surprised resident territory holder. Put the carrier on the floor of a chosen safe room.
- Invite the older cat into the room. Both cats will be able to assess each other through the bars of the crate without coming to any harm.
- Stroke your older cat to provide some reassurance and show there is no favouritism.
- Don’t worry if there is a spat with hissing and arched backs – this is natural.
- Once the introductions have started going smoothly, reverse the positions and bring the kitten to meet the older cat. Praise them both if they are civil to each other and give them each a treat.
- Hold the next meeting in another room. Keep moving around the house so the kitten's scent spreads too.
- Repeat short introductions frequently until there is less of a reaction from either of the cats.
- Before you know it, they will be getting on with their own lives with only the odd scrap.
They will either learn to ignore each other or become best friends, curling up with each other for a nap and grooming each other regularly.
Even if a resident dog doesn’t get terribly excited at the sight of a new kitten, great care should still be taken at first introductions. Over-exuberant play can harm a kitten, so mutual respect needs to be encouraged.
- Place your kitten in a pet carrier, then put your dog on a lead and let him investigate the new arrival. If the dog shows any signs of getting over excited, remain calm. Try to distract your dog’s attention and give him a treat when he settles down.
- Repeat the process over several days, moving the carrier around the house until they are paying little attention to each other.
- When they’re both ready, you can remove the carrier. Choose a room that has an upward escape route (so your kitten can jump up and out of the dog's reach.
- Make sure the doors are closed.
- Hold the dog on a lead before bringing in the kitten. It is important that the kitten doesn't run away, as this will make things more exciting for the dog who may see it as a fun chase game.
- Keep the meetings short and sweet. Over several meetings, they will probably start to ignore each other.
- Once your pets are no longer bothered by each other's presence, remove the lead. Always ensure the kitten can jump up to a safe spot out of the dog's reach.
- Never leave the two unsupervised until you can trust them completely with each other.
Your new kitten and other pets
Don’t take any chances with other pets such as birds, rodents and other small creatures. Cats have evolved to hunt and eat such creatures and they are unlikely to change their habits after millions of years. Use your common sense and keep your new kitten well away from their natural prey!
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.