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The first interaction that occurs between the new kitten and the other resident cats is extremely important as it sets the tone for their relationship in the future. Cats are territorial creatures, and if your residential cats have not been around kittens before, they may not take well to one, depending on their disposition. Some cats, for instance, will be more than glad to slip into the role of a mother when they find the kitten, while some others, may react hostilely perceiving the kitten to be an intruder. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you should be introducing your new kitten to the household cats, with gradual introduction being the key.
- Separation: Your new kitten needs to feel safe and at home before you make any face-to-face introductions with the other cats, else it can get stressed. Same goes with your residential cats, they may not take it well if a new kitten decides to just walk up to them, disregarding traditional cat manners when they meet strangers. You want to separate the new kitten from the other cats at home for the first few days. Make sure you assign a separate room for your new kitten, where it has its bedding, litterbox, food, and toys. Keep the door to the room closed, so it does not trot out of the room and run into the other cats while exploring the house.
- Familiarization: While your new kitten and cats may not have met either at this point, they are sure to have taken note of each others' scent. The more they get accustomed to each others' scent, the better. You can even let the cats into the kitten's room and vice versa when the other party is not around, so they grow familiar to each others' scent.
- Association: You want the new kitten and the residential cats to make a positive association with each other even before they meet face to face. One of the best ways to do it, is to give them food or treats at the same time, when they are in proximity of each other, without allowing any physical contact. Feeding them on either side of the door, so they can acknowledge each other's presence through the gap or crack in the door, is a good idea. If your kitten and cats take to each other, you may notice some paw interaction at this point.
- Supervision: This is where you let your kitten meet the residential cats one on one, and it should be done under strict supervision. Place the kitten in a carrier before you let the cat in. If you notice any signs of fear or hostility immediately separate them, and go back to the first step. You can try introducing them face to face again, in a day or two. Ideally, you should not let your kitten to freely mingle with the other cats until it is at least 16 weeks old. It may take anywhere between two and three weeks before the residential cats and new kitten grow comfortable with each other.
Don't forget to give both your residential cats and kitten a lot of affection and love, as they may get insecure due to the sudden change.