No matter how much you love your pets, you can’t always be at home with them. If you own an adult cat and a kitten that is not its parent, you might wonder what will happen when you are away.
You might be worried if you can leave your cat and kitten alone.
This article will answer that question, plus other precautions you need to take as you introduce your resident cat to your kitten.
Don’t leave your cat and kitten alone, unless they are fully acquainted. An older cat might feel harassed by a playful kitten. A male cat might harm your kitten.
It is better to pair cats of the same age who have the same interests.
Gradually introduce them as you supervise the interaction.
Some adult cats will accept a new kitten right away. Other cats might need a longer time to adjust to a new kitten in the house. Therefore, in light of this, there are a few precautions to take before leaving your cat and kitten alone.
Don’t Do It Before they are Fully Acquainted
Regardless of how well-behaved your adult cat is, it is still instinctively territorial, and the presence of a kitten in the house may trigger negative reactions.
Your cat can get jealous because you are giving all the attention to the new kitten. There is also the possibility of aggression in the adult cat, when the kitten tries to play with it every time.
It might also be not easy for the adult cat to adapt to sharing its necessities with your kitten. Cats are very particular with their toilet arrangement. The adult cat might not be ready to share its litter tray with your kitten.
The same goes for food and water bowls. If you leave the two cats alone before they are fully acquainted, the adult cat might prevent your little one from coming near the bowls, leaving your kitten famished.
Kittens generally have no issues meeting another cat. Perhaps you have noticed that when you first brought it home, your new kitten was eager to make friends with the adult cat. However, the cat may still want nothing to do with your little one.
This does not mean your home should be a war zone for your two pets. You love them both and want them to cohabit peacefully.
Once you have planned the introduction process, with a little consideration of your felines’ needs, you can ensure your furry friends have a stress-free home. You just need to let the introduction process be gradual.
It is Dangerous to Leave Them Alone
If your kitten is under 16 weeks old, it is physically weak, and the resident cat can easily hurt it.
Protect your kitten from negative experiences when it is young. A bad start often means things will stay that way for a long time.
Most adult cats view a small kitten as a threat. The older cat might be worried that the kitten’s mom will come looking for her baby. This would mean trouble for the cat if found near the kitten.
Therefore your cat may hiss or swat at the kitten to keep the little one from coming near it.
Male cats are known to kill kittens, especially the ones they haven’t sired. Not all tomcats will behave this way, but to play safe, don’t leave your male cat with your kitten alone unsupervised.
Female cats are more helpful if you want a cat to stay with your kitten.
Kittens Are Not Good Playmates for Adult Cats
You might assume that leaving your cat alone with a kitten will make them great playmates, but this is not the case. An adult cat is much bigger compared to a kitten. They cannot wrestle each other while playing, the way kitties love to play wrestling. The adult cat will hurt the kitten.
Your big cat might also feel harassed by your kitten, because kittens have so much energy and want to play all the time. An adult cat does not want that kind of play. Therefore if you leave these two cats alone, both of them will be frustrated at the end of the day.
It is better to pair cats of the same age because their needs, energy levels, and interests are more aligned. They will comfortably keep each other company.
How to Introduce Your Cat to Your Kitten
1. Give your cat an item with the kittens scent on
Many shelter homes will readily give you an item to identify with your kitten before you adopt it. This could be a blanket or toy. Rub this on your kitten, and leave the item lying around the house.
Scents are important tools for communication in your cat. The scent glands located on your cat’s cheeks, paws, lips, forehead, flanks, and tails release a chemical pheromone. These provide information about another cat without the risk of confrontations.
Your cat uses scent to learn more about an unfamiliar cat in the environment (in this case, your kitten). It also uses scents to create familiarity and identify with an animal of the same colony.
When your cat smells the items belonging to your kitten in the house, it will less likely be aggressive when it first meets with your kitten. It will recognize the scent as something non-threatening.
2. Prepare a separate room for your kitten
If you have a spare bedroom or a utility room, you can keep your kitten there for some time. Your kitten needs to have its privacy for a short while before introducing it to another pet.
Your kitten might also be terrified of navigating a big territory for the first time, let alone meeting another cat. This is why it is advisable to keep it in a small room at first, at least for a few days.
Don’t forget to equip your kitten’s room with a water bowl, food bowl, toys, and a warm bed, as you leave it in this secluded area.
The adult cat will treat the room as your kitten’s territory. This period is important because it will allow the new kitten, and your adult cat to become familiar with each other’s scents before a face to face confrontation.
3. Take both cats for health checkups
The presence of another cat in the house can be stressful. This burden can worsen if your older cat has health problems. It has to be physically fit to handle your kitten.
On the other hand, you also want to ensure your kitten has a clean bill of health before you let it have physical contact with your older cat. Check with your vet to make sure vaccinations are current before letting the two meet.
Upper Respiratory Illnesses, which is the equivalent of a common cold, is a condition that is transmittable between cats.
Symptoms of this condition are:
- Clear discharge in nose and eyes.
- Ulcers in the mouth.
These infections are common in places where cats are densely populated, such as shelters. That’s why it’s important to ensure your cats are in good health condition before they interact.
4. Allow your resident cat to sniff the kitten
After your kitten has spent a few days in its designated room, take it out, and encourage interaction with the cat. You can let the older cat sniff the kitten as you hold it, or while it is inside a carrier.
You need to supervise this whole process. Hissing and growling are common reactions, so don’t be worried. It’s normal for cats to react that way when they see something new, or that they don’t understand.
However, be quick to intervene if one cat is physically hurting the other. You might clap your hands loudly to distract from the cat attacking your kitten.
If the cats stay calm, be patient as you allow them to interact for about an hour.
5. Encourage time together
Allow your kitty to explore the home surroundings under your supervision. Your older cat may watch from a distance as your kitten explores the house.
It’s important at this point not to force interactions. Let your kitten go back to its room when it feels safe to do so. At the same time, you want to encourage your two cats to spend some time together.
If your cat has a favorite toy, such as cardboard paper, try playing with both your furry friends at the same time. Offer treats to both cats at the same time when they play with their toys, to serve as a positive reinforcement to the situation.
This way, your cat will associate your kitten with positive things, thus not feel as if your kitten is invading its territory.
Feeding them at the same is also a good idea to encourage mutual activity. Just ensure you are feeding your cats from different bowls, and there is space between them so that neither of them feels threatened.
6. Swap their rooms to get used to the other’s smell
Safely keep your kitten in a pet carrier, and let the resident cat explore the kitten’s room. This step helps in scent familiarization. Let the resident cat spend a few hours inside your kitten’s room.
Letting the older cat smell the kitten’s scent up-close, helps it to find the scent a natural part of its territory.
7. Provide a high up area for the cat to retreat to
Your cat may for a while, view your kitten as an intruder. Normally cats will avoid an intruder by displaying aggression. Therefore, it’s wise to provide a safe place where your cat can observe your kitten from a distance until they get used to each other.
A high perch is a good place for your cat to watch over the kitten. It can also use this as a retreat when it needs to stay far from an annoying kitten.
Leaving your cat and kitten alone can be challenging. Don’t leave them alone before they are fully acquainted with each other. Follow these steps to ensure the introduction process is less dramatic, and in no time, your cat will adapt to its new roommate. Only then can you have peace of mind as you leave them alone.