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How long will it take for our cat to get on with a new kitten?

How long will it take for our cat to get on with a new kitten?

by David Mallonee

How long will it take our 6-month old cat to get along with a 5 week old kitten we just got last night?

6-month old cat is extremely jealous of kitten and won’t let us hold him.


Hi David…. thanks for visiting and asking. I will rely mainly on experience in answering this and I would hope one or two of the regulars will chip in.

Cats are adaptable especially when there is a reliable source of food in the area! There are very few cases in my experience where existing cats never fail to get on in some shape or form with a new cat introduced to the household.

But it can take longer than we expect sometimes. It can take a domestic cat 6 months and more to get used to a new home/area so the same timescale can apply for an existing cat to accept and get used to the presence of a new cat.

That said, it is a very flexible timescale. I can remember some visitor stories on PoC in which there has been an almost immediate acceptance and liking. It depends on the characters of the cats concerned and the age of the cats too I believe. Younger cats should be more open to change.

The answer to your question is up to about 6 months, in my opinion.

I have introduced a new cat to an existing on two occasions. Lately the new cat has been Charlie a three legged cat. The existing cat is Binnie and 18 year old cat.

Binnie didn’t like it. It has been about 9 months now and she fully accepts Charlie. They cohabit just fine. They don’t play or sit together but neither do they show any animosity. The relationship is neutral and that state of play arose at about 6 months. They talk to each other.

The whole thing turns on the concept of the individual cat’s “home range” – the territory that he or she considers their home. Wildcats seek it when they become adult and protect it. This can lead to deadly fights but the feral cat often forms colonies around sources of food such as fishing ports as a commonsense way of finding methods to survive. For cats in colonies individual cat home ranges are very small. Individual wildcat home ranges can be hundreds of square miles.

Please see: Domestic Cat Territory and Introducing a New Cat.

The Social Organisation of Serval Cats as just one example of a wild cat.

I think the key for cat caretakers is to be patient and to manage the situation sensibly and with commonsense until they are settled. A hierarchy may form.

How long will it take for our cat to get on with a new kitten? to Why Do Cats

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How long will it take for our cat to get on with a new kitten?

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Nov 16, 2010
Like it
by: Michael

Rose, I like what you say. It fits in very nicely with what I think. All the advice here is excellent. Thank you all very much for sharing your expertise and experience.

Nov 08, 2010
Kids,cats and dogs
by: Rose

I have kids,cats and dogs and the way to a happy relaxed household is to stay relaxed yourself.
Animals pick up on stress especially cats,so we have a no yelling rule in our house.
When someone new joins us be it child(I foster too)or animal they are absorbed slowly and gradually and given time and privacy to adjust.
The newcomer and the residents are kept a close eye on until I’m sure all is well.
I’d never allow any visitor to bring a strange dog into my home,anyone who objected wouldn’t be welcome.
Each and every person and pet in our home is of equal importance,no second class citizen cats.They have lots of high perches for the peace cats need.
It works for us.

Nov 07, 2010
Cats have feelings too
by: CJ

Ruth gives good advice as always,time and patience and ensuring the latest arrival isn’t allowed to be in the resident cat’s face or made to feel jealous.She also makes the point of feeding them close but not together at first.
As for dogs,too many people expect cats to accept them into a home where they’ve been the single pet and then the cat is treated as a second class citizen.
A recent example which made me furious!
A cat and dog lived happily together,a new dog came into the home,it liked the dog but not the cat.So what happened?The cat was dumped in a Rescue Shelter.
Is that fair?NO it is NOT!
Some people forget that cats have feelings too.
Cats homes are as important to them as our homes are and their welfare and happiness should be of the greatest importance too.
Mary leave those dogs outside!

Nov 05, 2010
Nice advice
by: Michael

Thanks Finn for that nice tip about eating together. My old lady cat (Binnie) has got used to the presence of Charlie who has been around for about 9 months now. Charlie wants to be friendly but Binnie does want that but she accepts him and there is no animosity. This took about 6 months.

Her age at 18 years may be a barrier to being friendly. She is set in her ways. She was friendly with another girl cat I cared for many years ago.

Charlie, too, is big and a bit odd in the way he walks as he has three legs. This may be a bit of barrier as is the fact that he is male. Binnie retired to a safe place accepting the lesser role in the hierarchy.

Nov 05, 2010
Eating together breaks the ice
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Our Norwegian Milly had been ‘widowed’ single cat for six years, when we decided it was time for another cat to keep her company. She had become so human in many ways that I’m sure she must have thought, “A new cat? What do you want a cat for? I hate cats!” 😉

Well, we got one anyway, a 4 months old Somali called Ivanhoe, and although Milly hissed at him, nothing bad happened. In just a couple of days she accepted eating together from each side of the plate, which was a sign she had accepted him being there. She kept on hissing for months to come, but that mainly had to do with securing her own position in the hierarchy.

I think what helped Ivanhoe was that from the breeder he was used to living with cats other than his mother. He knew exactly when it was time to back off and surrender to the group’s matriarch. He could tease Milly, but the moment she got really annoyed, he would just roll over on his back and show he respected her authority.

The next cat we introduced to Milly was no kitten, but a nine year old chubby moggie, Snow White, with a mind of her own. Two alpha females together is asking for trouble, but Snow White must have accepted that this was Milly’s home turf, because she has never really tried to challenge Milly’s authority or invade her favourite place in the cat tower. When Milly hisses, Snow White just sits down and looks at her. She is confident she has nothing to fear as
her weight is more than double that of Milly’s…

They too have learned living together from sharing the food bowl, but what really has brought them closer has been the trouble they have shared. Like the occasions when my wife and I have gone on holiday and had our son drop by to feed them. Or when we packed up all the things and moved to our new house. Cats are stressed by any breaks in their daily routines, and it seems as if they somehow seek safety in each others company – even though they are far from being bosom friends.

But most often eating together is what breaks the ice, so that’s what I’d recommend. And remember that even when cats don’t cuddle together they may still benefit from each others company. Just watching what the other cat is doing provides lots of entertainment for them.

Nov 04, 2010
Patience, patience
by: Michael

Phil pretty much said it all – patience, patience is the method and the situation will nearly always settle down in time. It is up to us to show patience. Domestic cats are adaptable. The home is good. They will find a way to adapt.

Understanding and commonsense helps too.

Nov 04, 2010
To Mary
by: Ruth

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people with dogs to leave them outside so as not to upset your Persian lady. It’s her home after all and strange dogs are sure to make her feel threatened. Cats are very territorial and should be able to feel safe in their own home.

No matter how friendly a dog seems, even if there are cats in his own home, he can be a threat to a cat he doesn’t know and cats are on the defensive with strange dogs because they feel vulnerable.
Taking in a dog of your own you’d need to ensure he was a gentle breed and to introduce the cat and dog slowly and carefully. You wouldn’t like a stranger coming unannounced to live with you, so why should your cat feel any different to the way you would feel.

You’d need to start them off in separate rooms for a few days letting the cat have a good sniff around the dog’s room while you took him out.
Then put some sort of barrier across a door between them so they could see each other while the cat felt safe. When they meet in the same room keep the dog on a leash as dogs tend to be over enthusiastic.

Never leave them alone together until you are sure the dog won’t chase or hurt the cat. She would need some high places to escape to if the dog got too overpowering for her.

Never pet them in front of each other as that causes jealousy.

It can be done, you just need time and patience.

Nov 04, 2010
To David
by: Ruth

The main thing is to let the 2 kittens get to know each other slowly by their scent.
Put them in seperate rooms and as often as you can, swap them over. Make sure each kitten has equal attention, don’t let one see you petting the other, spend time with each. Take a piece of soft material and gently rub around the younger kitten’s face and whiskers, then using the same piece rub around the older kitten’s face the same way. That way the scents intermingle. You can also brush each one with a soft brush, going from one to the other. It’s all about becoming familiar with each other before they actually spend time together.
Cats just like people need time to get to know someone new and decide if they like them or not.
5 weeks is very young, too young to have left his mother but I take it there must be a reason for that.
Make sure each has their own litter tray, scratching post and toys.
When you think they are starting to relax around each others scents, feed them together, close but not side by side. Once cats have eaten together they normally accept each other.
You just need a bit of time and patience with this.
It shouldn’t take long as your oldest cat is just a kitten too and they do adapt much more easily than adult cats.

Nov 02, 2010
I’ve dealt with it
by: Joyce Sammons

I just pay more attention to the older cat and things just seem to work out. There are still a few catfights now and then, but my babies are best buddies.

I even have dogs thrown into the mix. I could write a book at this point. Go to and look at some of the videos on the video page. I have my cats and dogs on there playing together.

Lola and Furby got along great really fast. I was lucky because on a few occasions it has taken time between the newbies.

Nov 02, 2010
… and visiting dogs ?
by: Mary

What about an even more temporary situation – friends or tradespeople who visit (perhaps not even for long) with a perfectly friendly dog in tow ?

I like most dogs but have on occasion suggested that they ‘wait outside’. It helps to have a safely enclosed front garden to make this possible but it still feels incredibly rude – to both guest and dog. Other times (it depends on the dog and/or dog and person) I’ve invited it in. There’s the dilemma. The dog is always the one enclosed somewhere while resident cat has free choice to stay or go elswhere around the house. Even that may not be enough. My sensitive Persian landlady (!) has been known to get very upset, so what to do …

It doesn’t bode well for chances of adopting any other animals – kittens or puppies. At one stage I even invited a few dogs (and owners!) to visit now and then to see if she became less concerned over time. No luck. It’s too bad because I’d seriously consider socialising assistance dogs and could even take one to work with me 9-5ish, so leave the house to the cat most of the day. How do others handle this ? Any suggestions ?

Nov 02, 2010
Patience, patience
by: Phil (London)

As Michael says, sometimes there is immediate acceptance from the older, incumbent cat – but it sounds as though this is not the case for you!

When I brought home my two new kittens a couple of years ago, I attempted an immediate introduction with my older cat, then about 5 years old. He hissed and then ran off; my home was HIS territory, and it had now been invaded. So I spent the next couple of months carefully keeping the kittens away from Triftji, keeping them in different rooms while allowing Triftji a free run everywhere else. This way he could slowly become accustomed to the scent of the newcomers without the stress of face-to-face confrontations. Occasionally I would open a door very slightly to allow the two sides to see each other (kittens very very curious, Triftji very wary), until one day, on no more than a whim, I opened up all the doors and, amazingly, all three ran out into the garden and became properly acquainted with each other.

My advice would be to take it slowly, and concentrate on your older cat being comfortable at all times, as it is he who really needs to get used to the new ‘regime’. It takes a bit of trial and error and you need to use your own judgement; just don’t try to force anything, it will all be fine in time!

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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