Petstock logo
HomeRight caret
BlogRight caret
Article Featured Image
February 2024

Introducing a Kitten to a Cat or Dog

Behaviour & TrainingKitten Care

Regardless of how calm your pet is, adding a new ball of fur can trigger a whole range of emotions, from jealousy to becoming territorial over their space. With a lot of patience, you can easily introduce a kitten to a dog or cat without creating a rift in the fur family!

It's important to have realistic expectations when you bring in a new furry family member. It's unlikely that your kitten and other cat or dog will become the best of friends straight away. However, with some careful planning, there are plenty of ways you can make sure that the transition of introducing a new kitten to your resident pets is a smooth one.

When Should I Start Socialising My Kitten?

Kittens should be socialised between 2 and 7 weeks of age. These first few weeks are a critical time for their behavioural and social development.

Before your kitten comes to live with you, they will likely have been around their mother and littermates, as well as several other people. Your kitten will move in with you from about 8 weeks of age. Assuming they've had a lot of human contact already, it shouldn't be too tough for you to transition them into your household.

How To Introduce Cats

There’s nothing worse than two cats who just don’t get along. No matter how hard their owners try, it’s almost like they’re arch enemies who can barely be in the same room together. Introducing a new cat to an old cat takes a lot of patience and careful monitoring. The last thing you want to do is push them too quickly, creating a bad experience for either pet.

  1. Start by keeping them in separate rooms. Before you bring your kitten home, you should set up a safe place where they can slowly adjust to their new surroundings. Although they might be separated, the two cats will still be aware of each other.
  2. Slowly introduce your kitten and cat into each other's territory so they can get used to each other’s scent. At this stage, it's okay to let your older cat see the kitten, but not interact with them.
  3. The next step is to actually let your kitten and cat meet with limited physical interaction. Make sure to supervise until they get comfortable with each other. For some cats this might take a few days, others may take a few weeks. Once they remain calm and don't react negatively with hissing then you can allow greater interaction.
  4. Once they're comfortable with each other, let them continue to interact. Make sure you keep an eye on the interaction until they well and truly settle into each other.

How To Get Cats To Like Each Other

When introducing a new kitten to a cat it’s important to take note of their behaviour. The last thing you want to do is rush their interaction, leading to an unfriendly relationship. At the start, you might find your older cat competing for the "alpha" cat rank in the household. Bringing in a new cat can disrupt the current hierarchy, leaving your older cat feeling threatened. Make sure to keep the introduction slow so that your cat has time to adjust.

You might find they're aggressive or hiss at the new kitten to ensure they know their place. If your fur baby is particularly feisty, you might even witness your kitten hissing at the older cat. The best way to deal with this is to let them work it out amongst themselves. Cats are naturally intelligent creatures, and your new kitten will soon learn they're not the boss around the house.

How To Introduce A Kitten To Dogs

Your dog might need to take a little bit of a backseat until your kitten and cat are comfortable. Once you've introduced your feline friends, it's time to shift your attention to your doggo. Learning how to introduce a kitten to a dog is very similar to introducing your kitten to a cat – it should also be done slowly.

  1. When you begin to introduce kitten to a dog, make sure you allow them to get used to each other’s scents.
  2. Next, introduce your kitten to your dog and allow them to interact. Keep your dog on a leash, or hold them until they remain calm around the kitten.
  3. If you notice your kitten is twitching their tail, they might be uncomfortable. Keep an eye on their body language and separate them if either of them get too excited or scared.
  4. Once you're comfortable that your pup isn't going to get too excited, you can allow an interaction without the leash.

What To Watch For

As you introduce your kitten to both your dog or cat, it’s important to monitor body language for signs of stress.

When introducing a kitten to a dog, make sure to keep an eye on how they’re interacting. Is your dog overly focused on your kitten? Do they refuse to look away even if you call them? Any signs of unfriendly body language, you should separate them and try again at a later stage.

As for your cat, look for signs of hissing, puffing firm, a twitching tail or slinking on the ground. These indicate that your cat isn’t feeling overly comfortable and confident.

Bringing home a new kitten should be an exciting time for everyone. Remember to take it slow and give your other pets plenty of time and space to adjust to the new family member. Before long, your other pets will soon come to see the new kitten as an extra playmate or cuddle buddy!

Introducing Your Kitten FAQ

What is normal play between a cat and a kitten?

The difference between play and aggression is all down to body language. It's not unusual for play fighting to appear a little aggressive, however, if their ears are pointed forward then they're likely just playing. Aside from their body language during play, keep an eye on how they act when they're not playing. If they groom and cuddle up with each other, then it's likely they're just playing when they fight.

How long does it take for a cat to accept a new kitten?

This is all down to your cat's temperament. For some cats it can be a matter of days, for others it can be a few weeks. Some will take to the new member straight away, while others will tolerate them, but won't be interested in napping or playing together.

Should I let my cat hiss at the new kitten?

Your old cat may hiss and swat at the new kitten. This is completely normal behaviour and as long as it doesn't turn physical, you should do your best to not interfere.