How Should I Introduce My New Kitten to Their New Environment?

This article was authored by Dr. Georgianne Ludwig

Cats are naturally inclined to investigate their new surroundings. We in the veterinary field suggest that their area of exploration be limited initially so that these natural tendencies do not create an overwhelming task. After confining your new kitten to one area for the first few days, slowly allow your kitty to access other areas of the home.

How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?

Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially other cats who may be solitary and/or territorial. The other cat usually sees no need for a new kitten in the household, and these feelings are often reinforced if the cat perceives favoritism. Your resident cat shouldn’t feel that it is necessary to compete for food or attention. Give your new kitten his or her own food and bowl, and do not allow your kitten to eat from your other cat’s bowl. A similar strategy with litter boxes is also recommended; make sure to place the litter box for each cat in a separate area.

How do I facilitate the relationship between my new kitten and my cat?

Begin by arranging for each cat to have his or her own living space, whether a closed-off area or a separate room. Over the course of a few days or weeks, allow your cats a little supervised time together. You may wish to keep them separated by a partially closed door to begin with, which allows them to get used to each other through smell first. It's very possible that they will start interacting with each other through the crack in the door.

Although it is natural to want to spend time holding and cuddling your new kitten, be aware that your resident cat may quickly feel that they are being neglected. You may find that the transition will be smoother if your existing cat is given more attention than usual. Fighting may occur occasionally, but the introduction period will usually last only a couple of weeks.

Also, give consideration to the cats' personalities. If one is energetic and the other prefers to be alone, this could cause contention between them. However, if they are compatible felines, your existing cat will soon learn to tolerate the kitten. And perhaps, with time, bonding will occur between them. They will likely play together, groom each other, and sleep near each other. This is more likely to occur if the competition is minimized or if the existing cat has been lonely for companionship.

When should my kitten be vaccinated?

We have the ability to prevent many feline illnesses—including fatal diseases—through the use of vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, the vaccines are given at around 8, 11, 14, and 17 weeks of age. However, this schedule may vary depending on several factors, which your veterinarian will discuss with you to help you decide on a vaccine schedule for your new kitty.

There are many more questions new kitten owners often ask, especially if they're dealing with possible intestinal parasites, ear mites, or behavioral issues. You may also be wondering when to spay or neuter, what the best food is to feed your kitten, and what to do about fleas and heartworms. If you have any questions concerning your new kitten’s health, please feel free to call us. Our entire staff is available to help.