New Cat Introductions: Breaking All the Rules

new-cat-introductions

When I brought Ruby home last Sunday, I had no way of knowing how introducing a new kitten to Allegra was going to go. Allegra had been an only cat for the past eleven months. Even though she had been in a foster home with other cats before I adopted her at seven months of age, I had no way of knowing how she was going to react to another cat. Ruby shared her foster home with two big adult male cats, so at least I knew that she was used to being around cats.

Feline behavior experts advise introducing a new kitten to your home and your resident cat slowly, and in stages. For even the friendliest kittens, coming into a new home can be a big, scary venture. Experts recommend setting up a safe room for the new arrival, complete with litter box, access to food and water, toys, scratching posts and a comfortable place to sleep.

Scent is important for cats. You can let the new kitten and the resident cat smell each other indirectly by rubbing a towel on one cat, and rubbing the other cat with it, and vice versa. This “scent exchange” can help them accept the new smell as something that is part of them. After a day or two, let the two cats sniff each other through a baby-gate or a barely opened door.

When you think they’re ready, let them mingle under your supervision. There will be hissing and growling – try to ignore it, but be ready to intervene if a physical battle breaks out. It’s important to take this step slowly. If they do seem to tolerate each other, praise both cats effusively.

Gradually increase the time they spend together. Make initial joint activities fun so they will learn to associate being together with something pleasurable. Play with both cats, pet them both, and share treats. Always praise them when things go well. If things don’t go well, separate the cats, and start again at the point where you previously left off.  Introducing a new cat can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or even months.

I knew all of these things. And yet, I made a conscious decision to forego the traditional protocol – not in defiance of what every feline behaviorist and every feline rescue group recommends, but rather, based on my gut instinct, which told me that with these two cats and their respective personalities, it was going to work. Had I seen any signs along the way that things were going south, I would have reverted to traditional protocol.

Even trusting my intuition, I was amazed at how well things went. The first couple of hours were a bit rough. There was lots of hissing and growling, and Allegra was clearly very upset with me. She growled more at me than at our new arrival. I knew all of this was to be expected and normal, but it’s still not fun to go through. Ruby, on the other hand, just went about the business of exploring her new home. Having Allegra “yell” at her was only a minor distraction for her. Nothing seemed to bother her. She was having fun!

After about five hours, the two cats were hanging out together in my living room. By the second day, they shared space on my loveseat. The hissing and growling became less frequent. By the third day, the two of them exchanged nosetaps for the first time.

Since I lead a somewhat “public” life when it comes to my cats, and people come to me for advice on all things cat, I was concerned that my unorthodox approach to introducing Ruby would be construed as expert advice on how to do it.

I want to be clear that I don’t recommend this method for everyone. It certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But sometimes, rules are there to be broken. For some cats, traditional introductions may work best. For others, it may be more stressful for both the resident and the new cat to keep the two separated. It becomes an individual decision that needs to take into account how well you know the cats involved, and how comfortable you are with new cat introductions.

new-cat-introductions

As of this writing, only ten days later, the girls have become good friends. They play together, chase each other through the house, and hang out together. They even sleep in the bed with me, one cat on each side. I couldn’t be happier, and I think Allegra and Ruby are pretty happy, too.

348 Comments on New Cat Introductions: Breaking All the Rules

  1. Gabby Alcantara
    May 22, 2017 at 10:30 am (1 day ago)

    Hi there! I have an 8 year old male cat that is quite dominant over other animals, he has the whole “king of the castle” attitude down pat. I recently rescued a stray female (not sure of age), had her spayed and she has been staying in a separate room. I brought my male cat in to introduce them and I thought he would’ve been the one to get mad since the female had lived outside with other strays but I was wrong! The female freaked out and tried to attack my 8yr old male. Before I could even set him on the floor she lunged and I yanked him back up and ran out with him. She didn’t get him but she definitely got me. I had some pretty deep scratches all down my arm and even my leg. I am wondering if it could have been because she was used to this one room and I tried to bring him into her territory (which is a small space). Is that why she attacked him? I am afraid to introduce them again so now she has been living in the laundry room for the past 2 months 🙁 I would really like for her to be able to walk around the house and get along with my male.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 22, 2017 at 10:59 am (1 day ago)

      Yes, bringing the resident cat into the new cat’s territory is definitely what set off this sequence of events. You skipped over a whole bunch of steps in the introduction process: scent exchange, space swapping, gradually letting the cat see and sniff each other through a crack in the door, etc. Start over, and go very very slowly this time, and don’t skip any steps.

      Reply
  2. Katy
    May 2, 2017 at 9:44 am (3 weeks ago)

    I just adopted a 4-year old super laid back male cat. I know he is good with other cats because he was in the shared room at the adoption center and never even batted at other cats. My problem is that I currently have a 3-year old male who acts more like a 1-year old (has a lot of energy). I am hoping they will get along well because my cat is super friendly and loves dogs. He has met my parents cats before (14-year old females who don’t even like each other) and it didn’t go well. My cat never hissed but they would hiss at him and try to attack him. I am concerned now though because he was on their turf at the time and now e he is on his. I got the new cat yesterday and have been trying to introduce them slowly but I feel like it is giving cats more anxiety not knowing what is on the other side of the door. I am so tempted to just open the door and see what happens but I don’t want to ruin their relationship forever. What would you suggest in this case?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 2, 2017 at 2:43 pm (3 weeks ago)

      “See what happens” is usually not a good idea unless you’re absolutely sure that the cats can handle it, Katy. I would at least give it a few days, working through the process of scent exchange, and possibly letting the cats see each other through a crack in the door while you offer treats on either side of the door before attempting to let them be together.

      Reply
  3. Sharon Dunn
    April 10, 2017 at 4:06 pm (1 month ago)

    So I have just brought home a five year old bengal as company for my 15 1/2 year old tabby after she lost her brother and was feeling very lonely and board, Millie, the bengal was very curious of her new house and the resident cat and Keira is such a sweet soul that I opened the cage and let them meet. There has been a few instances of hissing but I honestly thought it would be from the much younger cat but no my sweet natured tabby will not allow her to walk up to her. She can walk up to Millie but will only allow Millie to do so at feeding times or if I’m between then i.e. On the sofa
    Millie on the other hand is dying to get close to her new big sister and follows her everywhere I suppose in time Keira will realise that Millie just wants to snuggle up

    Reply
  4. Miranda
    April 10, 2017 at 2:28 am (1 month ago)

    I just moved into my uncles house it is. Small 2 story house. He already had a male cat about 2 or 3. I have my female cat who is 3. We ended up keeping her in her cat carrier and letting them sniff eachother that way. It seemed to be going okay so I opened the door and let her out on her own. It was a Ricky start and well she hisses at him when he tries to approach her. I know now i inteoducwd them wrong but how do i fix that. I need them to get along. I do not want to have to get rid of her. She is my baby. Also she hasn’t used her kitty litter box which is downstairs. My uncle has strict rules that no kitty box upstairs, but she usually sleeps with me and I am afraid to leave her downstairs where the male cat spends all his time. Buuut that is where her kitty box is. How do I get her to use her kitty box and not the floor???? She’s been kitty box trained since I got her. I want her with me until they are comfortable with each other, but I am afraid she will go to the bathroom on the floor. How do I figure this out.
    April 9th, 2017

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 10, 2017 at 5:23 am (1 month ago)

      There is no way around it: you’re going to have to keep your cat in your room, and you’re going to have to get a litter box for your room, no matter what your uncle says. Then you very slowly introduce the two cats to each other following these steps: http://consciouscat.net/2011/08/15/cat-to-cat-introductions/ Back up a step and go even slower if things don’t go well. It can take weeks or even months to properly introduce cats.

      Reply
  5. Lucia
    March 27, 2017 at 8:51 pm (2 months ago)

    I finally made the leap and got my playful adult male a little playful lady to have as a buddy. I am nervous because he is very territorial and am currently sitting in my bedroom with the new cat while my resident cat, Musa, is in the living room on the other side of the door. There has been no growling or hissing whatsoever, just curiosity (I have my PetCube set up so I can see what Musa is doing on the other side of the door). I am unsure if I should break “protocol” and let them see each other within the first few hours of bringing the new cat home. I was fully expecting Musa to be hissing and growling and upset, but he is not in the slightest. I don’t want to mess anything up so I am wondering if anyone has any advice: should I still wait a couple days before they can see each other?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 28, 2017 at 5:40 am (2 months ago)

      Go slow. I know the temptation is to just “give it a try,” but it’s going to be much harder and take longer to undo any potential issues than it is to wait.

      Reply
  6. Kimberly
    March 4, 2017 at 7:20 pm (3 months ago)

    Hello,
    I’ve had my cat Penelope since August, about seven months. I’ve had my heart set on a second cat though and finally adopted Coraline, a nine month old kitten. I first showed Penelope the new cat in the crate. Hissing was the immediate reaction. I figured this was normal but have a safe room set up to keep the kitten in. Day one the kitten slept in the safe room, content to see me when I’d come in to pet her. Penelope was sniffing her through the door but not hissing. I rubbed the new cats scent on socks, set one near Penelope’s play box and another by her food. She small-town but doesn’t react one way or another. We then decided to set up a baby gate for them to see each other. The new cat reacted fine. Wasn’t scared. Wanted to check Penelope out. She’s a very lovable kitten. Penelope however, reacted with growls and hissing. Then Coraline decided to jump out unexpectedly. I now have my old cat in my room (which does smell like the new cat Coraline because she slept with us one night) and she sniffs around but no reaction. The new cat has free reign right now to get Penelope’s scent. I plan to keep the kitten in the safe room once I can get her but she meows really loud whiney like. It breaks my heart because she wants to explore. And I’m also sad my old cat seems stressed around the new cat.

    My dad’s girlfriend also to let them “hash it out” and they’ll be fine, but both cats are rescues and have somewhat different personalities. I’m at a loss. My other issue is I rent an apartment. My cats both destroy the doors when either is locked up by scratching underneath. Any advice is appreciated because I don’t want to give up either of my feline babies.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 5, 2017 at 6:24 am (3 months ago)

      Definitely do not let the cats “hash it out,” Kimberly – that never ends well. You need to slow introductions way down. Once you get the kitten back into her safe room, start over, and go very slowly. Back up a step if things don’t go well. Proper introductions can take weeks, or even months.

      Reply
  7. Paul Martin
    February 4, 2017 at 9:18 am (4 months ago)

    I have a cat who is just over a year old. I’ve had her since she was a little kitten. She’s been the most loving pet ever since I brought her home. Just about a week ago, a 9 year old cat was about to lose her home. I got a hold of that cats owner and told them lets see if our cats get along. If they do i’ll take her, this way my cat will have a companion. I created a safe room for the new cat and when I brought her home I tried to see if they could be in the same room. so I let them out of there travel crates. They were both fine. I thought to myself, great this is going to be easy. Well……. mo more that two minutes I picked up the new cat and was cuddling her. My old cat really didn’t like that, as soon as she saw me she instantly started to growl and hiss at me. I put the new cat down then my cat attacked me. I was trying to stop her by trying to hold her down. She did some damage on my hand and arm. As far as introducing cats that is what I did wrong. After that I put the new cat in the safe room. Now my cat has been hissing and growling and swatting her paw at me. This went on for 4 days and the cats were constantly going at it through the door. I had no choice but to give the new cat back. For two days my cat was happy that that other cat was OUT. On the third day my cat tried to attack my son again. Before I brought that other cat home my cat has never behaved like this. My cat clearly hasn’t got over that change that we tried. I don’t know what to do now, I afraid I may have to put her down if this continues. I love my cat, I love her so much. I just cant have her attacking us, she really did some damage on my hand and arm when she first attacked me. Anyone with a thought?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2017 at 6:20 am (4 months ago)

      My guess is that your cat still smells the other cat on you and your son. She probably also hasn’t completely settled down from the stress of the other cat being in the house. I would confine your cat to a quiet room for at least a day or two to give her a chance to completely calm down. Keep some favorite items in that room with her. Minimize interactions with her during that time. While she’s in there, thoroughly clean the room the other cat was in, and wash all of yours and your son’s clothing the other cat may have come in contact with. I would also take your cat to the vet as soon as possible – while the behavior was most likely triggered by the other cat, the fact that it’s continuing even after the cat is gone is extreme, and there may be something else going on.

      Reply
  8. Esther Krieski
    January 30, 2017 at 5:13 pm (4 months ago)

    Hello!
    I’ve had my 6 month old neutered resident kitten for about 3 months. We got a second 6 month old spayed girl kitten 4 days ago. We kept them separate and have done all necessary steps: swapping rooms, scents, feeding very near each other w the door cracked. When they are eating, there is no hissing involved. I let them
    mingle yesterday.. and I thought they were fine. My resident cat would just stalk the newcomer, and newcomer would just hiss. Nothing crazy. Then of nowhere my resident cat attacked the newcomer. I’ve separated them again.. and I’ve also played w them in the same room (my husband playing w one and I with the other) and they are okay. The problem is, when I put resident cat or newcomer in a different room, he or she meows very loudly and constantly. It’s becoming very stressful for us. Do I keep putting them in separate rooms. It’s hard to choose who to sleep with 🙁 we just feel bad for both cats.

    Reply
  9. Nadine
    January 27, 2017 at 3:58 am (4 months ago)

    I have 2 cats. 1 is a about 8ish years old and the other is 4. Both are fixed males. The older one is the Dominant cat. My roommate recently got a 1yr old fixed female. She had a cat before who passed away a couple years ago (and she lived with my two cats too without a problem). The new kitty is very sweet and not very aggressive with the 2 boys. Typical light hissing and shuffling away. Poe (my oldest) warmed to her in a few days (this is how he works with all animals. He took to Amadeus and the previous female cat in less than a week each). However, Amadeus is proving to be more difficult with the new cat. He hisses at her if she gets too close but hasn’t yowled or actively attacked her. We started out with the new cat confined to my roommates bedroom, and would allow the boys in to get used to her smell, sight, etc. Since it has been a few weeks and Poe has accepted her (as he’s the dominate one) we’ve been letting her bedroom door open so her kitty can explore if she wants (with supervision). What we’ve noticed is when the new kitty starts to come down stairs, Amadeus is not accepting of it and will chase her back up the stairs and into the bedroom. I should note he does not chase her when he is in her bedroom… i theorize this is because he knows that’s her territory and he has never really been in the room that much as he follows me around everywhere. However once she comes down stairs, it’s now his territory and he has not completely accepted her. Again, there is some hissing but no really loud, aggressive hissing or yowling. I have not seen him attack her either but I do not believe the chasing is play either. I believe it’s more aggression. Amadeus is maine coon mix and is easily twice the size of the new kitty. He looks very intimidating (even though he’s clumsy and is kind of a scaredy cat as when my 25lb dog tries to pounce him, he just flops over and takes it). Any tips on how to lessen his need to aggressively chase her away? I know it’ll take more time, and I’ve read trying to distract him with a toy when he wants to chase her may help too.

    Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to give as much background info as I could

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 27, 2017 at 6:21 am (4 months ago)

      You may need to back up a step and keep the new cat in the bedroom and slowly create positive associations for Amadeus by feeding him on the opposite side of the door, eventually cracking the door a bit so he can see and smell her but not get at her, doing site and scent swapping, etc. I think that’s your best bet to ensure that they will eventually get along.

      Reply
  10. Ashley
    January 22, 2017 at 12:23 am (4 months ago)

    I have a 3 year old cat and i really love her i am like obsessed with her. BUT my best friend had to get rid of her cat so i took it. she is at my house to get her used to my old cat. but fluffy (old cat) cant stop growling at puddles (new cat) what should i do

    Reply
  11. Kayla
    January 4, 2017 at 4:13 am (5 months ago)

    I’ve had Madison for several months. She was adopted from the Humane Society. She’s an old lady; 11 years, the vet believes. When we adopted her the paperwork had said she had lived with another cat. Now, months later, we have adopted another cat, Dumpling. Dumpling is 4 months old and loves to play. I currently have them separated and am going through the motions of gradual introductions. Madison hisses at Dumpling through the door and does a low growl once in a while. I would like to let Dumpling out so that he can run a little but I’m afraid Madison will scare him. When we adopted her, Madison had been in a room with a bunch of other cats so I know she is capable of coexisting with another. If I open the door will she hurt him? Or will it just be a short lived experience of hissing like you mentioned with
    your cats?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 4, 2017 at 6:48 am (5 months ago)

      It’s impossible to predict, Kayla. When in doubt, slow and gradual introductions are always a better choice. You may want to start with “site swapping” – put Madison in Dumpling’s room and give Dumpling the run of the house for a little while, then put him back in his room and let Madison out. It’ll give Madison a chance to really get used to Dumpling’s scent, and Dumpling will have a chance to explore the rest of the house.

      Reply
      • Kate
        January 18, 2017 at 10:19 pm (4 months ago)

        Hi! I’m not sure how to post my own problem so I’m putting it here. I have a 9 month old kitten lilly. She is the sweetest kitten.. very playful and loving. She seemed to be getting restless lately , meowing for attention (although me and the boyfriend give her LOTS) , so we decided she needed a friend. So, just today I adopted an 8 week old kitten from PetSmart. Turns out she was just spayed yesterday 🙁 . Anyways,, new kitten is just sleeping on the couch and lilly is not being aggressive, but she is hiding. She won’t even eat as usual. She seems very unsure. I have tried to make lilly feel OK but it seems she is mad at me. I’ve been trying to give lilly attention but she is not having it. Very unusual for her. I’m just hoping that she will come to accept the kitten and maybe even have her mother instinct kick in since the new kitten is still disoriented and In a little pain from her spay. Any advice would be great. Thanks!!

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          January 19, 2017 at 6:17 am (4 months ago)

          Put the new kitten in a room by herself, let her fully recover from her surgery, and then slowly and gradually introduce her to Lilly. Make sure you spend lots of time with both Lilly and the new kitten while they’re separated.

          Reply
  12. Molly
    December 2, 2016 at 1:07 am (6 months ago)

    Hi!

    I adopted a now 3 month old kitten about a month ago. Three days ago we adopted her sister from the same litter. They saw each other immediately and the first cat started growling and hissing. Originally the second cat just stared at her but now she had started to growl and his too.

    We’ve had them separated since the first night and trying to switch rooms so they can small each other but it doesn’t seem to be doing much.

    I know it’s only been a few days but is there anything else that I can do?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 2, 2016 at 6:49 am (6 months ago)

      You’ve got to give it time, Molly. Introductions can take weeks and sometimes even months.

      Reply
  13. Kim
    November 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm (6 months ago)

    I took in a friend’s 10 year old cat about 6 weeks ago as they no longer could keep her. She settled in quick but seemed bored and a little grumpy. I was set on having 2 cats so adopted a year old female from the rescue centre. I’ve had other friends tell me to just set up new kitty in the front room and if the older one comes in, she’ll be annoyed but eventually tolerate her. They’ve bumped into each other several times today but my older girl is more upset with me. I’m heartbroken, feeling I’ve done the wrong thing. New kitty is settled in fine, just avoids the older girl. I’m alone in the house so separating them is hard as one thinks I’m ignoring the other. They haven’t had any physical fights, just growling. Please help, I don’t want to give up on either of them.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 24, 2016 at 6:10 am (6 months ago)

      Your friend gave you bad advice, Kim. Keep the cats separate and introduce them slowly and gradually. Here’s how: http://consciouscat.net/2011/08/15/cat-to-cat-introductions/ Be patient, and back up a step if at any point in the process, things don’t go well. Proper introductions can take weeks and even months sometimes.

      Reply
      • Kim
        November 24, 2016 at 8:59 am (6 months ago)

        How can I get about separating them, now that they know the other is here? I’m trying to keep Willow in my front room, but I feel like I’m punishing her by not allowing her free reign like Stella who is my older cat. The main issue is that Stella seems to be really mad at me, will this pass?

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          November 24, 2016 at 10:46 am (6 months ago)

          Keep Willow (the new cat, yes?) in a room by herself while you go through the gradual slow introduction process. There’s never any way to predict whether two cats will get along, but doing slow and gradual introductions are your best chance of that happening. I know it’s upsetting, but hopefully, Stella will settle down as they get used to each other.

          Reply
  14. Christy
    November 22, 2016 at 1:17 am (6 months ago)

    Hello!

    I just adopted a 6 month old female kitten and my shy resident cat, Doctor after day two seeing her for the first time, but was content with just watching and sniffed the litter box before disappearing.
    Has only hissed twice at her which she just turned her back to him and curled up to doze and now they seem like best friends, except if she runs off after her and I cuddle he tears down the call and chirps/meows as if he’s looking for her.

    What does this mean?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 22, 2016 at 5:56 am (6 months ago)

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re describing, Christy. Does Doctor chase the kitten or the other way around before he does the chirping?

      Reply
      • Christy
        November 22, 2016 at 8:50 am (6 months ago)

        No he meows fist then you can hear him/them running up and down the hall, obviously playing.
        I’m just not sure if he is urging her to come out. They were sleeping together yesterday when I came home from work. I was told by the shelter that she always hung around the shy cats so I’m just curious if the meowing would be him trying to be better acquainted with her.

        Reply
  15. Kyana
    November 14, 2016 at 8:39 pm (6 months ago)

    Hello, I have an eleven year old cat and a 9 year old dog. I just got a new kitten today and I am unsure how to go about things. I read up on it and tried to take things slow. I tried the scent thing but my older cat couldn’t smell the younger ones scent. I started them off with separate rooms and they could smell eachother through the door so I decided to let the cat out. My older cat went under the bed and started hissing at the kitten whenever it got too close so we put the kitten back in the room she was in. I would just like some advice on how to help my older cat accept the kitten. I’d also like to know how long I should expect this process to take.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 15, 2016 at 6:22 am (6 months ago)

      Here’s how to do slow and gradual introductions: http://consciouscat.net/2011/08/15/cat-to-cat-introductions/ It can take weeks and even months for some cats to accept each other, so go very slowly before you move from one step to the next. If things don’t go well, back up a step and go even more slowly.

      Reply
  16. Emylia
    October 18, 2016 at 4:20 am (7 months ago)

    Hello!
    I have a 3 year old female cat, and recently adopted a 3 year old male. When I first brought him home, my boyfriend immediately took him out right in front of the resident cat and she was rightly freaked out and hissed and growled because it was so sudden. We have since set up a separate room (which the resident cat seems to have claimed for herself before we could get him set up in there) so he sleeps in my room with me. We since have tried a few interactions after some scent swapping and switching rooms they are in. They seem curious about each other and will meow through the door and bat under it at each other, but every time we try to introduce them again he playfully runs at her and she goes into defense and hisses and growls again. I was thinking of making or buying some sort of partition that they could see each other through but not be able to chase or bat at each other. I’m hoping this will get them more used to seeing each other and we can slowly get them in the same room without issues. They are getting tired with being in different rooms with limited access to me so I want to find a way to move forward.

    Reply
  17. Rita Carvalho
    October 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm (7 months ago)

    Hello! I’m so glad I found your website. I have a sweet, playful 2 yo female that since birth was used to other cats, she’s now been by herself for 11 months since my other cat, a male, passed. Three days ago we brought in another male (he’s six months). He’s very mellow and is also used to other cats. She was very curious since day one, he as expected, was scared and hiding in the separated room we put him in. After feeling that they were both fine I let them see each other with the door opened. There was some hissing and I closed it. I did this twice and now on the third day I let him explore the apartment. There was some hissing and growling on her part, she was following and wanting to sniff him. They both seemed calm. Then suddenly the growling intensified and I noticed she was in a different mode, he went back to the room we’re keeping him and she was not letting him out. I closed the door again and everybody is taking a nap. Should I keep letting them see each other? Or was it too soon and I should go back to keeping them separate? Any tip will help. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2016 at 5:31 am (7 months ago)

      I’d back up a step and slow things down, Rita. Create positive associations for them on either side of the door first, then move on to scent swapping, and then try to let them see each other.

      Reply
      • Rita Carvalho
        October 19, 2016 at 9:41 am (7 months ago)

        Hello again!
        Thanks for your input Ingrid, I went back to having them in separate rooms for a few days and the hissing and growling stopped. However, although they are in the same space the new kitten usually plays by himself and doesn’t seem interested in my resident cat. They sniff one another and touch noses but that is about it. The resident cat seems more curious. The new kitten is still afraid of me and my husband and often hides under our bed or sofa, we are able to pet him but we have to sit and let him sniff our hand first. Well, I’m not sure they are a good match now. Do you think he’ll improve and feel comfortable with us eventually? Should we keep waiting for them to get along? Any tip will help. Thank you!

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          October 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm (7 months ago)

          I’d give the kitten time to settle in, Rita. It’s a lot to handle for a kitten: new home, new people, new cat. As long as there’s no hissing or growling, I’d leave them out together and let them get used to each other gradually. I suspect that the kitten will come around eventually.

          Reply
          • Rita Carvalho
            October 19, 2016 at 8:10 pm (7 months ago)

            Thank you so much Ingrid. I really appreciate you taking the time answer to my questions. Your work is so relevant to all of us who have find ourselves lost in these situations with our feline friends. Thanks again!

  18. Tia
    October 14, 2016 at 2:06 am (7 months ago)

    Hi! I got a 15 week old cat when she was 8 weeks and just last week we decided she might be happier with a friend. Now, we also took in her brother from the same litter since his family couldn’t have him anymore. We started introductions through scent and they no longer hiss at the door. They seemed excited to meet each other and put their paws under the door so I put them together to play. The first meeting was horrible and my resident kitten (girl) was terrified so I slowed things down. After a day or two I put them back together but if they get too close they hiss and start swatting at each other and I’m scared they will fight. I’m trying to ignore the hissing and growling but I don’t know if I’m moving too fast. My resident cat seems really territorial and scared sometimes and stalks him when he just sits down. I feed them near the door with it cracked and they act fine then. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 14, 2016 at 5:27 am (7 months ago)

      You need to slow things down and back up a step. Introductions can take weeks or even months.

      Reply
      • Tia
        October 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm (7 months ago)

        Hi again! My kittens are meeting for a little bit each day. They seem to be excited to see each other but I’m worried about their playing which could be fighting. When they first meet they sometimes touch noses and then they run through their toy tubes and chase each other. This carries on and there is barely a hiss until one tackles the other. Sometimes they are fine and seem playful but other time they seem like they’re playing too rough or actually fighting. At this point they will be hissing and growling so I make a loud noise and separate them. However, every time they are away it seems like they wish they could play with each other again. I’m worried and I’m not going to let them play for a few more days or encourage eating next to each other to stay safe. What should I do?

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          October 19, 2016 at 5:16 am (7 months ago)

          Rough play is not unusual, Tia. Watch their body language to determine whether it’s play or aggression: are their ears straight up? Tails up in the air? That’s play. If their ears are flattened against the back of their heads, and tails get really puffed up, it may be tipping over into aggression.

          Reply
  19. Emma
    October 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi I’ve got a 3 year old desexed female cat and yesterday took in another desexed female of the same age. My first cat is inside/outside and new cat is locked in the spare room. My first cat won’t go up the other end of the house at all now (where new ones room is) even though her food is up that end. First cat hasn’t seen the new one only smelt her through the door or on my clothes. She just keep wanting to go outside though and we are worried she will run away or never get used to the new cat. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 11, 2016 at 5:40 am (7 months ago)

      I would not let your resident cat outside at this time. Wait until you’ve properly introduced the new cat by going through all the steps very slowly and gradually.

      Reply
  20. Emily Jayne
    October 6, 2016 at 7:54 pm (8 months ago)

    Hiya! I’m bringing home a maine coon kitten this afternoon. My existing cat is also a maine coon and loves company and attention. I have friends and family that want to come and visit the new kitten which will be kept in a separate room. I have also given the kitten some of my existing cats furniture. I am concerned that I’m making too much of a fuss for the kitten and dont want existing cat to freak out.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 7, 2016 at 5:22 am (8 months ago)

      I would give the kitten a chance to settle in and your resident cat time to get used to the newcomer before you have friends visit.

      Reply
  21. Mattie
    October 4, 2016 at 12:31 am (8 months ago)

    Hello. I have a 2 year old male, very friendly sweet mannered. He uses a cat door and freely eats. He’s easy going and has always shown us love with head butts and lots of daily chattering.
    I brought a 3-4 month female kitten home in hope of a successful integration. But I am becoming worried I have made a terribly mistake.
    I read all the articles and kept the little one separated for a few days first. Her own water food litter box etc. I rubbed her with a sock and did the same with my older male. And then rubbed them both down with the other’s sock. I also let my older cat batt the kittens paws from under the door and sniff her.
    He immediately began hissing and growling even though he hadn’t seen her yet. Which I believed to be normal.
    We finally let the little one out of her room to explore and our older male is acting totally unlike himself. He growls and hisses at her constantly. Even if she is closed in her room. He’ll be laying in my lap like normal for 10mins and out of no where hiss and growl. Which is starting to scare me.
    He is now just bolting outside every time he sees the little one. And only comes in to sleep and eat.
    What do I do? It’s only been 4-5 days but I feel I perhaps am going about this wrong? Or making decisions that could cause irreprible damage between me and my 2yr old cat.
    Should I ignore his hissing and let him lay in my lap? Do I tell him no? His hissing is territorial so I don’t want to reprimand him correct?
    Please help. Any advice would do. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 4, 2016 at 5:43 am (8 months ago)

      I would slow introductions way way down, Mattie. Your male is clearly not ready for any kind of contact. Start by trying to create positive associations for your male cat with the presence of the kitten. Reward him with treats when he’s calm, but be very careful that you don’t inadvertently reinforce his negative behavior. It’s probably going to take longer to get him used to the kitten since he’s an indoor/outdoor cat, and he clearly prefers to be outside now so as to avoid the stress of the kitten in his territory. I am concerned that he hisses and growls even when he’s in your lap and not anywhere near the kitten – I would hate for you to get hurt, as there is a possibility that his could turn into redirected aggression.

      You may want to consider getting help from your vet and/or a feline behaviorist with this introduction.

      Reply
  22. Halle J
    October 3, 2016 at 3:52 am (8 months ago)

    Hello, So I’m have a 2 year old cat and I just brought home a new kitten a few days ago who is 8 weeks old. As expected my cat is hissing and growling at the new comer. I’m doing my absolute best to ignore it but it definitely frightens me. I worry they will never become friends and that my cat dislikes me now. Is there any way where I can help better this process. I miss my cat sleeping in bed with me. My only problems is I don’t have a room for both cats to call their own? I feel like I should have gone about things differently. They will be in the same room together but my cat will hiss and growl most of the time then leave. I want her to feel like my room is still her space. I’m just a little worried and stressed out and clueless about how to go about this. any tips from anyone? I would greatly appreciate it!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 3, 2016 at 5:40 am (8 months ago)

      You’re going to have to find a way to separate the two cats and introduce them slowly and gradually, Halle. You may need to keep the new kitten in a bathroom, or create a partition. Ignoring the hissing is not going to fix this situations.

      Reply
      • Halle J
        October 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm (8 months ago)

        Well I thought that ignoring it was supposed to no add to the tension. I read that somewhere. But now that my cat has smelled the new cat in my room she doesn’t want to stay in my room. I don’t think our bathroom is big enough for the litter box and everything. My cat has been hanging out in the rest of the house. I have 4 other roommates that all have animals so it’s hard for my cat and the kitten to find a place to call their own. but i’m not really sure where they can go. Do i have to find a new home for the kitten? I just don’t know where I can put them?

        Reply
  23. Lisa
    September 29, 2016 at 7:06 am (8 months ago)

    Hi! We brought an 8 week female home to our year old male. They have the same mom, and we were hopeful that would help! We are using a safe room and exchanging scents, but have let them spend some supervised time together since day one. Our resident male is very interested and is pretty much camped out outside of the safe room (very calmly) with some pawing under the door when he hears her nearby or playing. There has been no hissing at all, but their short visits together he seems on edge, pawing at her, and some biting. Maybe we moved too fast initially or maybe we are being too protective of the kitty?! Any insight would be great!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 29, 2016 at 8:42 am (8 months ago)

      I would slow things down, Lisa. Create more positive associations for the cats by feeding or giving treats on either side of the door before bringing them together.

      Reply
  24. Angela
    September 28, 2016 at 10:16 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi…I recently adopted an 8 month old female cat who is scared and hides. And a 3 month old kitten who is super friendly with tons of energy. I live in a studio apartment, so don’t have the option to give them separate rooms. And my bathroom is too small. I will eventually allow them to be indoor/outdoor cats, but in the meantime, I’m breaking all the rules on introductions and just let them meet right off the bat! To top it off I have a 13 year old male cat too. Don’t ask why I took two more in, I just did! Any tips for making it less stressful? Mainly for the female. She doesn’t let me pick her up yet even.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 29, 2016 at 5:42 am (8 months ago)

      I’m not sure how you can make introductions less stressful with the space restrictions you have, Angela. You may want to consider working with a feline behaviorist.

      Reply
  25. Katie
    September 20, 2016 at 8:14 am (8 months ago)

    Hi – I just recently bought a kitten and have a 4/5 year old cat same exact breed and the first day there was hissing and now my older cat just seems to walk away if he doesn’t want to be bother but they are both smelling each other. The place I adopted said not to let them be in the same room for 2 weeks but I really think they are doing okay. It has only been 2 days what do you think I should do.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 20, 2016 at 9:14 am (8 months ago)

      It’s hard to tell whether they’ll be okay, Katie. As long as there’s only some occasional hissing, and it doesn’t escalate to growling or fighting, they may be okay, but it’s always safer to go slowly with introductions.

      Reply
    • Cindy
      October 5, 2016 at 2:38 pm (8 months ago)

      I am bringing home a new 8 week old kitten on Friday. My cat, whom is 5 is really not the friendliest of cats. I’m going to keep the kitten with my grandson in his room. My cat sleeps on my bed.
      I’m hoping the kitten won’t keep my 12 year old grandson awake all night! If so I guess my tiny little bathroom will have to do for nights anyway. Wish me luck! I sure hope my cats not a jerk and can get used to the kitten eventually. Both are females

      Reply
  26. Kate
    September 14, 2016 at 9:16 pm (8 months ago)

    Hello,
    My husband and I took in an 8 year old female cat (Zeda) 2 weeks ago for an acquaintance who could no longer keep her due to Zeda being jealous of the 4 year old grandchild who lived their as well. Zeda likes my husband and I best, but we have not fully bonded with her. Prior to our surprise adoption of Zeda, our daughters have been trying to earn kittens all summer long. They earned them over the weekend and we rescued two kittens, Luna(4 mos. F) and Bubbles(3 mos. M) from the shelter. The kittens are very much the kid’s cats and Zeda is the adult’s cat. All the cats have seen each other and we have kept them separate, aside from the occasional kitten leaping over the gate separating them. Zeda mostly growls at the kittens when the come over into the same room and give a few hisses, but she has stayed away from them so far. We have attempted to share smells. Seeing that we have not had any of the cats for very long, what is the best way to introduce them? Has Zeda had enough time to truly claim territory? I am wondering if the unconventional method you used would work in our situation.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 15, 2016 at 5:19 am (8 months ago)

      Since Zelda is growling and hissing at the kittens, I’d go slower with the introductions. Continue the scent swapping, eventually do some site swapping, and feed on opposite sides of the door before trying to let everyone be in the same space together.

      Reply
  27. Emma
    September 14, 2016 at 12:03 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi there, I have a 13 year old (male) cat Rolo and a six year old (female) dog Storm. I’ve recently taken in a kitten (Bingo), she’s about 4 months old and has bounds of energy! Now she seems to be getting on with the dog fine but whenever Bingo sees Rolo she pounces at him, jumps on his back, bites him, just constantly pestering him (I don’t think it’s done in a nasty way). So much so that Rolo doesn’t stay in when Bingo is around. We do have the rare occasion where there’s calmness in the room and when this happens for a little while I make sure I give treats to both cats. Is there anything I can do to give Rolo a little peace, or is this something we have to see through until she calms down?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 14, 2016 at 4:48 pm (8 months ago)

      Unfortunately, kitten energy is not always a good match for an older cat. I know it sounds crazy, but you may want to consider adopting a second kitten close to Bingo’s age and temperament so he has a buddy to play with. If that’s not an option, regular play sessions with Bingo are a must. Play with him 3 to 4 times a day, 10-15 minutes each. Really get him tired out to help him burn off some of that energy. Reinforcing the calm times with treats is definitely a good idea, but it’s not going to fix the problem. Good luck!

      Reply

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