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by Larry Chamberlain
So, you read somewhere that introducing a new kitten into your home could be great for your existing cat, for companionship. And you remember how much fun your cat was when she was a new kitten, and you would love to re-live those days.
It is generally thought that cats thrive better with the company of another feline, especially cats confined indoors. But before you rush off to your local cat shelter or breeder, here are a few tips to make bringing home a new kitten as stress free as possible.
Choose a time when your home is not too busy and you will have time to devote to your new kitty and your existing cat, avoid holidays, for example, or other times when friends and family are likely to visit.
Before bringing home the new kitten, take her to your veterinarian to get her checked and vaccinated, kittens have weak immune systems and are likely to pick up something at the shelter or cattery. Consider adopting a cat of the opposite sex to your existing cat, this will avoid same sex rivalry and associated problems. For a number of reasons all your cats must be spayed/neutered.
If possible arrange to bath your new kitten at a friends house before you take it home, this will neutralize kitty's odor, and go some way to prevent unsettling your cat.
A short isolation period is necessary when introducing a new kitten. It would be ideal to have a separate room for the new kitten, your new little pet will need her own litter box, and food and water bowl. Some kittens will hide out under furniture for some days, more adventurous ones will be eager to explore their new home almost straight away. Do not try and force kitty to leave the room, you will know when she is ready.
Allow your new kitten to explore around your home while your older cat is in another room. Make the introduction, slowly, bit by bit, it is a good idea to let your existing cat sniff your new kitten's blanket a few times before they actually meet. Make the initial periods of contact short. Gradually increase the time that they spend together as they get used to one another. It is not unusual for there to be a few spats in these first meetings, so do not leave them alone together until they get on. If a fight does break out, distract the combatants and get them into separate rooms as soon as possible, never punish either cat.
The process of introducing a new kitten to an older cat, can often be relatively stress free and need not be full of problems. The key is in making the introduction slowly, and perhaps the best tip of all is to give your older cat just as much attention and affection as you give the newcomer.
Before you know it you will have two cats that thrive on each others company.
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