How do I get my current cat used to a new kitten?

by Anna
(Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

I have a 7-month-old tabby cat I got from the Humane Society when he was 3 months old. He's been the only cat in the apartment ever since.

I just adopted a new, 3-month-old kitten last night from a family that had 10 other kittens, 3 older cats, and a dog. This new kitten is used to socialization but also used to defending itself and not being afraid to hiss.

I'm not sure what to do because they got along for the first hour or so, giving each other licks, but now they are at each others' throats.

My older kitten still seems kind of confused as to what's going on, but when he tried to play/wrestle with the kitten, the kitten will fight back hard and hiss.

I am having to keep them apart in separate rooms while I'm at work. The kitten was meowing really loud constantly when I left. They were even trying to get each others' paws under the door.

I need advice as to what to do. I've read all kinds of techniques online but I want advice from experts. Thanks!

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by: Ellyb

I just went through this about 2 months ago. Mine didn't do well at first, even though I isolated the newbie from my first cat. It took about 3 months total of very slow introduction before they were able to be in the same room together without a fight starting up. My younger cat now follows the older one everywhere and wants to sit or sleep close to him. He has tolerated her pretty well It's hard work, but don't give up.

Slow introductions are best
by: Kurt (Admin)

This comes up a lot. Isolating the kitten is the first step (they should not have interacted yet as it's too soon).

The protocol from experts is to isolate the new cat in a single room and keep them separated (as you're doing). Then, you follow a slow introduction process that involves a number of steps and spans over several day or weeks.

This is fairly well documented by the ASPCA and other cat rescue and welfare organizations. Here's a post from Adopt-a-Pet on the topic of introductions. Here's an explanation of reasons to isolate the new cat.

After one of our readers didn't follow the process and ran into problems, I outlined the steps for cat to cat introductions here. I hope that helps and congratulations on your new addition!

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