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Introducing a new cat/kitten to an existing one

 

Cats are territorial creatures on the whole… we get used to doing things in a certain way and some of us can get quite upset if there are any changes to our routine! A new cat or kitten being introduced into our territory is a very big change indeed from a feline point of view, so if you want to minimise the risk of problems, here’s some hints and tips on the things you can do to smooth things over as best as you can…

 

1. Are some introductions easier than others?

It must be noted that cats are not “pack animals” in the same way that dogs are, and in rare cases you might get two cats who really don’t get on with each other at all (the same as for some humans in fact!) and the only real alternative to re-homing one of them is to give each of them their own separate spaces.

In most cases, it’s easier to introduce a kitten to an existing cat than an older cat, though that doesn’t make it necessarily easy to introduce a kitten, nor does it mean you shouldn’t take on an older cat if you would like to do so. It’s also usually easier to introduce cats of the opposite sex to each other, as long as they are both neutered (unless kittens).  But there are a few things you should do before you get to the introductions stage!

 

2. Prepare a kitty room

If your home allows it, prepare a room in advance just for your new arrival – put a litter tray, water bowl, food bowls, bedding and plenty of toys in there! This room will be the new kitty’s new home for at least a few days, so make sure it’s comfortable and also make sure there’s nothing breakable within kitty’s reach – particularly if your new fur baby is a Bengal! If you’re using a spare bedroom, you may want to take the bedding off the bed and replace with a mattress-protector sheet. Bengal kittens in particular might find it a nice place to go to the toilet on otherwise.

 

3. Welcoming the new arrival

When you first bring your new arrival home, take them to their kitty room straight away. They might be quite overwhelmed by all the sights and smells around them, so it’s good to keep these to a minimum as much as you can :) Stay in the room with them while they settle in and find their paws. Make sure they have fresh food and water and they can find the litter box easily. As I said in another guide, you should feed the same food that the previous owner/breeder did and also use the same kitty litter, this will minimise the risk of tummy upsets and also the risks of little toileting accidents. You can always change these at a later date if you wish to do so (though this should be done gradually).

Stay with your new arrival for as long as you feel is appropriate, but don’t smother them too much and certainly don’t let your other cat into the room with them at this stage.

But do make sure you leave plenty of time to give your existing cat plenty of love and attention! They will know something is different and they mustn’t feel like they’re playing second fiddle as a result.

 

Bengal Cat Blog photo

Friday and I get along very well now!

4. Preparations for the introductions

Once your new kitten/cat has settled in – and this might be as little as a few hours or as much as a few days, it depends on the individual – you can start the preparations for introductions. Cats are very sensitive to smells, so a good way of “introducing” them to each other without them actually meeting face to face is to get them used to each others’ scent.

If you don’t wash your hands in between petting your cats, you will have the smell of them on your hands which the other one can smell. You can also swap bedding and toys between the cats so there is a more constant presence than on your hands. Another option is to take a clean soft cloth and gently rub it over the whisker pads and head area of one cat and leave it in the areas the other cat uses and vice-versa.

So after a day or two of this (more if you think either cat needs it), you can then start to think about face to face introductions!

 

5. Pleased to meet you?

By now, it won’t be a shock to each cat that there is another one in the same house… but you still need to be very careful when they meet for the first few times face to face. You could consider using a large cage for this – this isn’t cruel if the cat is in there for short periods, and it gives the cats a chance to meet each other in a controlled way. Put the new kitty in the cage and let the existing one approach in their own time.

Or you could just let them meet and see how it goes!

However you do it, never force anything onto either cat and supervise the first few meetings very closely. At first, there will no doubt be a lot of hissing and growling which is entirely to be expected but if there’s too much animosity, remove your new fur baby back to their room, and allow a time out.

Start off with short meetings, just one or two in a day, then gradually build up the length and frequency.

 

Important things to remember

The way you introduce your cats to each other can have a long-term effect on how well they get on, so take it gradually and do it properly to increase the chances of life-long friendliness (or at the very least, tolerance of each other).

It might take only a day or two, or it might take several weeks, but in the majority of cases, most cats will learn to get on with each other if they don’t feel threatened and they don’t have to compete with each other for basic things such as food, water and cuddles – so make sure there are plenty of these to go around for all!

Never force any cat into any situation they don’t want to be in; always allow a “time out” when needed.

Bribery works well! Reward your fur babies with treats during and after the introductory meetings to make them feel like this is a good thing to do!

Never shout at either cat if they misbehave or don’t do as you would like them to; it will only stress them out even more and they’ll associate bad things with the new cat they’re being introduced to – remain calm and reassuring at all times, even if you don’t necessarily feel it!

 

30 Responses to Introducing a new cat/kitten to an existing one

  • Linda Jenson says:

    This is very good information. Right now we have two tuxedos but I am so in love with cats and would like to and to our “family”. I have become very interested in bengals and am learning all I can about them. :) Your friend Linda

  • June Patry says:

    Strangely enough, our new cats meet our existing cats before we do! That’s because our last 4 or 5 new family members have been strays. Sassy has been here almost 7 months and Midnight, the only cat who doesn’t go outside, still doesn’t like her. He head boops her when she gets too close at mooching time (our lunch and supper). He sees her as competition for his food supply I guess. They don’t fight though, so I don’t worry about it.

    Excellent info Spot. Thanks!

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      You’re very welcome, June! Of course all cats are different and if they can get along without all these careful preparations, then that is great too! :razz: :mrgreen: xxx

  • Diane Ricciardi-Stewart says:

    great info! I live in a small flat, so I’ve had to handle things a little differently, but it has all worked out for the kids. This will be very helpful for anyone thinking of adding another baby. . .<3 <3 <3 :smile:

  • ReginaM says:

    Thanks, good advice. I’ve just brought home an 8 wk old neutered male kitten. My other two are females aged 18 & 5. My 18 yr old hisses at the kitten and my 5 yr old runs away from it. It’s been 24 hrs. Things are going smoothly.

  • Zara says:

    Hi, just wanted to let u know how much this has helped me! So much so, I’m thinking of adding another addition to our family! I already have a Maine Coon, and Berman. I’m thinking of getting a Siberian Forest cat too! Hope everything goes well! Thanks sooo much!
    Mwah, bye! :lol:

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hello Zara! I’m pleased we helped you! Your kitties sound gorgeous, and Siberians are lovely too! <3 Good luck :) xxx

  • Paul says:

    I have a 16 month Bengal male whom is a character, I have been offered his sister from same parents but earlier litter, she is 24 months old. My male is very scatty, meaning any loud noise or bangs or sudden movement and he jumps or runs off. He is a great character and shouts loud when you come home or sometimes really loud if he can not find you…. My question is not so much about the adding another cat its more about loosing the traits our current cat has, this shouting and greeting not to mention following us. Would another cat change this and make him quiet or change his general behaviiour

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      As long as he feels comfortable in his environment, his behaviour shouldn’t change. It may change temporarily while he gets used to the new addition. You may find that she actually enhances his behaviour as Bengals often enjoy playing with other kitties :) But of course, nothing is certain as all cats are different, just like humans :)

  • Mari says:

    We just brought in a Bengal (we think) rescue and are currently having her in her own room. This is day one :grin: we have a number of other characters, errr, cats and two labs who love them. I am already struck by her voice WOW :shock: We will wait to see how she is tomorrow. Right now she is a tad disgruntled and doesn’t mind who knows it :lol:

  • Steve Caffers says:

    Hi all,

    I am after some help/reassurance.

    We had a litter brother and sister (Bengals) but unfortunately the male was knocked down by a car and is no longer with us. Two weeks ago we took another male Bengal
    male in (neutered) who required to be rehoused (owners moving abroad). After a few days of him being very upset (hissing etc) he has settled down and is a beautiful boy (he is 4
    1/2 and she (our existing cat) is 3 1/2.

    The issue we have is that she appears terrified by him. We have followed the prescribed steps and they tend to eat their food each side of a stair gate although she is a little skitty and He is not interested in treats or food but will stand by the stair gate watching her eat her food and tries to paw her. This she accepts. We have tried introducing them in the same room and she curls up into a ball and hisses whilst making loud groaning noises (clearly distressed). We remove one of them quite quickly after the introduction due to her stress.

    Any suggestion of what we can do to make their introduction less stressful and how we can get the existing cat to accept the new one?

    Both are beautiful cats and we’d rather not have to rehome one of them.

    Thanks
    Steve

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hello Steve.
      Sorry to hear of the passing of your boy. It sounds like you are doing everything ‘right’ in introducing your boy to your girl. It can take time, though, and 2 weeks is not all that long so I would say to carry on as you are and be patient. Make sure they both have their own water bowls and litter boxes so they don’t feel threatened by having to share.

      The only additional thing I would suggest is the use of Feliway. It should help to calm your girl, but again you need patience as it can take up to one month to work. Try using the plug-in in the room she inhabits the most, and you can also back this up with using a little of the spray in the areas where she meets your boy. There is also a natural remedy called Zylkene which is a tablet that can be given to help calm kitties too.

      Im sure in time things will settle and they will at least tolerate each other, though you may have to accept that they may never be best pals. Cats are naturally solitary animals.

      Take care!

  • Hannah Dawes says:

    It just so happens that we are about to welcome my 18 month old Bengal, Percy’s sister from the same litter into our home as she needs to be rehomed and we have kept in touch with the bredder. Do you think they will recognise each other after 1year apart, She stayed with the Mummy and Daddy bengal up until now.

    three weeks and counting. I am so excited! x

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hi Hannah! Sorry for our late reply, we’ve only just seen your comment. I don’t think they will recognise each other and you will need to introduce them as though they had never met each other before <3 Good luck! xx

  • Rose says:

    Hi all, hoping for some advice/comments. My 2 year old Bengal girl Cleo joined our cat family in January ( we already had two DSHs, one male and one female, both neutered). Unfortunately the DSH girl (Maggie aged 10) hates the new arrival and we have to keep them apart as we have already had some incidents when Cleo was threatened and chased by a furious Maggie. No problem with the DSH boy who is very laid back, and he and Cleo eat in the same room without too many problems. Have tried Feliway and Zylkene, even an animal behaviourist. I don’t want to rehome either of them, I accept that they’ll never be friends but just want them to tolerate each other. Will things improve over time? Thanks in advance for any comments!

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hi Rose! Sometimes there are cats who just don’t like each other no matter what you do to try and help :( Though they are never best friends, they usually learn to tolerate each other once they realise that’s how things are going to be. Keep doing as you are and hopefully in time Maggie will learn to accept Cleo. xxx

  • Keisha says:

    Hello, I have a female(spayed) Bengal cat who is a year and a half old! She is quite vocal and very playful and loves lots of attention. We were considering getting a 2 month old male kitten but we are worried about how our existing cat will react? We have had her around a small dog who was 13 before and they loved each other after only a few hours and were cuddling. Do you think she will be fine with a new male cat like she was with the dog? I’m worried about her shutting us off completely but we do want a friend for her if possible. Thanks! in advance, and I’d love for your thoughts!

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hi Keisha! As long as you do the introductions slowly and carefully, like we’ve written about in this article, I don’t see why not! Bengals often love having a playmate and kittens are usually accepted reasonably well by an older cat. There’s no guarantees of course, but I think you should give it a go :) xx

  • Rose says:

    Thanks for your advice! There has been a development which I’ll tell you about in case it helps other people: I found Maggie in Cleo’s part of the house – don’t know how she got there! and Cleo was on top of a high cupboard, not scared, just observing Maggie who was on the floor. Maggie then got up and left the room.
    The animal behaviourist told us that the “top cat” is normally the younger and more agile one and I think this is what’s happened – no way would Maggie be able to get on top of the cupboard and so Cleo has asserted herself and doesn’t hide any more. Result! I’m not going to leave them together yet, but progress has been made and Maggie has definitely backed off a bit. :-)

  • Rachael says:

    Hello ladies & gents,

    Hoping for some advice/comments also!

    We recently welcomed a new kitty into our home, Salvador. He’s a beautiful big Bengal boy, a rescue, aged somewhere between 4 and 6 we think. He’s very talkative and affectionate. We think he may have been treated badly earlier in his life as when he first arrived, he spent the entire day hiding behind our laundry basket growling. Now he’s settled and trusts us, but he’s still a bit nervous and skittish in general – any loud noises (even outside or downstairs) and he jumps out of his skin!

    Our existing kitty, Brontë, is another rescue, and a sweet little girl aged around 10 months. She’s very affectionate and playful. DLH we think – but has a very Maine Coon/Norwegian Forest Cat look about her so possibly a cross!

    Now, we’ve followed the integration process to a tee and are at the point where we’re allowing them to mix. They also go out.

    Our situation is a bit unusual though (I think!) as the cat showing the aggression isn’t the new cat. Brontë is very curious about Salvador and likes to cautiously approach him for a sniff. She’s never hissed at him or tried to paw him, however as soon as she gets anywhere near him he growls and sometimes goes for her!

    Sometimes all she has to do is walk in the room to set him off growling. They have their own food and water bowls and areas, and they both get plenty if love and attention. We asked the lady rehoming him if he would be suitable for homing with another cat, and she said he would be fine but might get “jealous”.

    Luckily Brontë is quite a confident girl and as yet his threatening behavior isn’t showing any signs of making her afraid/wanting to run away. She just keeps trying to make friends! As with Rose, I have caught her sitting on elevated surfaces a couple of times looking down at him so wondering if a battle for dominance is going on…!

    PLEASE – any advice anyone? We love them both dearly, and just want Salvador to settle and realise that she’s no threat to him. Should we try Feliway or Felifriend? Could they really make a difference? What are the tablets a couple of people have mentioned?

    Thanks so much! Rachael x

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hello Rachael! Rose has written some great comments below. I agree with what she says: time and patience are the key. A little Zylkene may help too <3 xxx

  • Rose says:

    Rachael, I use Zylkene which you can get onine or from the vet, it’s blue and white capsules of powder which you sprinkle on their food once a day and it relaxes them. It’s not a drug. Use the lowest dosage which I think is 75g. I started giving it to Maggie and Cleo on the advice of the behaviourist, Maggie still gets it but I have stopped Cleo’s dose as she is so much more confident now.
    We had a similar problem with integration: new Bengal introduced to our two DSHs. Things are gradually improving but it does take time. I don’t leave ours alone together yet, but progress has definitely been made. Cleo was hiding in boxes for weeks when we first got her in January, now she has really found her paws. She will never be friends with the others, but hopefully they will gradually learn to tolerate each other.
    The behaviourist advised us that Feliway was a waste of money, except for the spray, which you can use around their beds. Don’t buy the plug-in, it is very expensive.
    Spot, hope you don’t mind me sharing my experience, I don’t mean to tread on your paws :-)

    • Spot the Bengal says:

      Hello Rose! Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated and our paws don’t feel trodden on at all <3 xxx

  • Valerie says:

    Hello. We have a 10 year old spayed rescue cat that lives indoors and my son got a baby ferret 2 years ago. We heard they’d get along great but to this day they must live separate. I decided to get a female bengal kitten this past Friday and have followed the steps above. Tomorrow I will start putting Zoey in the carrier and bringing her into the living room for my adult cat to get more used to. Do you think there is a better chance my adult cat will like the kitten than what happened with the ferret?
    Thank you for your time. Valerie

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