New kitten and adult resident cat get on well through screen. How to maximise success.

What I like about this Reddit.com video is that is shows us an example of a good introduction between a resident cat and a new, incoming kitten. The owner has placed a barrier between the two to allow them to get to know each other gradually and in a secure way. What we see is that the resident cat accepting the kitten as he/she responds in a playful way to the playful advances of the kitten. That must be a relief to the owner who asks: “Introducing new kitten to our cat. Is positive or negative?” All the comments including mine are ‘positive’.

I guess it is fairly obvious but the outcome of an introduction of a cat or kitten to a home where there is a long-term resident cat is uncertain. It depends on a number of factors including the gender of the resident cat and the incoming cat and their energy levels and of course of their character. I also think choosing a kitten as the new cat is wise because the resident cat cannot see a kitten as being a threat to their territorial home range. But there are caveats to that (see below).

There is a nice video, but it is unreliable because Reddit.com serves unreliable videos 😒. Click on this link to see it on Reddit.com. I can’t vouch that it will work!

Resident cat and new kitten get to know each other from behind a screen and it works out well
Resident cat and new kitten get to know each other from behind a screen and it works out well. Screenshot.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Anything new to a resident cat is a potential issue. This is an opportune time to briefly touch on cat introductions and I am going to rely on myself and Jackson Galaxy (Total Cat Mojo).

Get another cat?

If you have one cat and things are going well, should you get another cat? I have asked that question a lot and at the moment the response to myself is No! I have a great relationship with my male cat. He treats me as another cat! That’s a good point I feel. A single cat is not alone. They have a cat companion: their human caregiver is that cat is they are relating to their cat in a kind and sensitive feline way. We don’t know for sure how cats perceive us, but my experience tells me that they relate to us as cats – surrogate moms.

Why disturb a really good relationship between caregiver and cat companion? Galaxy says, “I believe that cats should live with other cats”. Well, as I have said they do: their human ✔️👌.

Galaxy says that he has be asked to deal with many cases of new cats not getting on with resident cats. But (1) domestic cats have become pretty sociable and (2) it depends on the individual cat if they will get along with a newcomer. You just can’t be sure before it happens.

I am lucky in that I have been retired for 16 years and throughout that time I have been able to spend all day more or less with my cat. My cat gets lots of attention and interaction and he can go outside. There is no chance of him being bored and needing another cat to entertain him. Many people are in very different circumstances where their cat might be alone a lot and bored and isolated. A second cat might be a good solution.

Galaxy says that don’t let a feeling a guilt that you cat is bored be the driving force for the decision to adopt another cat. Would another cat be beneficial to your cat? If yes is the answer, go ahead but try and find the right match.

Matchmaking

Is it possible to improve the chances of resident and new cat getting along by good matchmaking? Galaxy believes so. He thinks:

  • A 12-year-old female resident cat is not a good match to a kitten (so she will mother him). Kittens don’t bring out the mothering instinct in older female cats according to Galaxy.
  • Adding two kittens to a resident (making a 3-cat home) is a better idea he thinks as the kittens can entertain themselves. But this is not optimal for the resident senior cat.
  • As male cats are neutered, it is not really helpful to ask the question: Should I bring home a female or make? An adult or a kitten?
  • Galaxy says that you shouldn’t worry if you have a declawed cat, and you plan to adopt a cat with their claws. Just be sensible and keep your clawed cat’s nails trimmed.
  • He also believes that you shouldn’t think about whether your cat is an alpha cat or a non-alpha cat and how that affects the adoption of a new cat. He thinks that it is a bit of a red herring.
  • It is better to think about ENERGY LEVELS when matchmaking. He is talking about sedentary cats versus highly active cats. If your resident cat is sedentary, it is better to get a reasonably sedentary or quiet newcomer. And if you have a shy or timid cat it would be better to adopt a cat of a similar but not identical character. Although he warns against bringing home a “carbon copy”. You are looking for a cat to complement the resident cat.
  • And you should keep your personal preferences in check. It is not what you want but what is the best for your resident cat.

Introductions

He doesn’t believe in playing Russian roulette on cat introductions. He doesn’t believe in letting them work it out. He believes in a step-by-step slow and steady process. He’s a fan of the time-tested recipe for successful integration which, incidentally, is well discussed on the Internet.

Preparations

  • He believes in ensuring that the resident cat is fed at mealtimes and not allowed to free-feed as this forms part of the introduction process – see below.
  • He also believes in blocking off those areas where a cat might go to hide because these are the “Unders”.
  • Make sure that the home has some vertical spaces to allow either the resident or newcomer to find a place where they feel confident which is usually higher up.
  • Jackson Galaxy is a great fan of what he calls “urban planning”. He does tend to make things quite complicated. And I don’t think everybody will do this. What he means is things like cat trees placed at windows where the cats can learn to get along while watching the outside (cat TV). He is trying to make sure that there is less chance of one cat being ambushed by the other and more chance of the cats getting to know each other in a place where they feel confident.

Introduction process

  • He said that initially the cats should not be able to see each other. There should be a base camp for the new cat which could be the spare bedroom or office.
  • When the new cat is brought to the home the resident cat should be tucked away somewhere, out of the way. The new cat is placed in the “base camp”.
  • He then begins the gradual introduction by starting off with feeding each cat behind a closed door. He calls this a “segregated mealtime”. The food bowl should be gradually placed near the door on both sides. The cats should be checked to make sure that they are relaxed when feeding. If not, the food bowls should be placed further apart and then gradually brought together again but all times behind a closed door. Once they eat in a relaxed way when they can’t see each other then you should allow visual access.
  • In order to get both cats acclimatise to each other you can place a piece of bedding from each cat next to the other cat which allows them to get used to the smells. They should be allowed time to explore.
  • When the newcomer is confident in his or her space, he then suggests that there should be “site swapping”. This means allowing each cat to explore the other cat’s base without the cat being present. In other words, they should explore each other’s territory “without laying eyes on each other”.
  • The next phase is to let them see each other and you can do that by opening the door partially or as we see in the video on this page using a screen door.
  • As I understand it, the next phase is to introduce one to the other while the resident cat is playing with you and having fun. The newcomer might wish to join in, and play is a great way to integrate cats. This is because they do it instinctively as it is driven by the hunting instinct. That’s my interpretation.

I will leave it there because Jackson Galaxy’s book Total Cat Mojo is very involved. He makes some excellent points but for me, it is vastly over engineered and written in his personal language which is a kind of code. This serves to make things more complicated and more difficult to understand.

Below are some more articles on introductions.

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