You may have read my recent post about taking our kittens along on a car trip. Our two kittens were absolutely amazing on their five hour car ride. But our adventure didn’t end there! Our relatives have five cats also, so we faced the challenge of integrating our two kittens into their group of five cats. A huge help to us is that our relative adopted a kitten from the same litter that we did, so their four adult cats were used to living with a kitten. Plus the three kittens do seem to remember each other from their ‘younger’ days and LOVE playing together.
I had some fear about introducing our kittens to the four adult cats. My first concern was based on size alone. Would the adult cats be aggressive towards our little ones? While I knew this was a possibility, I also know that these four adult cats are used to living in a multi-cat environment. They are also friendly cats who don’t show very much biting or scratching aggression.
My second fear was for our female kitten. She would be the only girl among 6 male cats (4 adults and 2 kittens.) She is quite small, weighing five pounds! The adult cats have never lived with a female cat, so I was wary about their reaction.
It can be difficult and scary to introduce cats to each other. It is an unpredictable situation, but there are some ways that you can make the introduction much more comfortable for all of the cats.
We brought our kittens into the house in their carrier and placed the carrier in the living room for a while so that all of the cats could smell and become a bit more comfortable, while maintaining separation.
We then unzipped the carrier and left the door open, allowing our kittens to choose to stay or leave the carrier. Within a few minutes our boy left his carrier, but our girl was much more defensive. She stayed in the carrier and if any of the large cats came near she hissed.
After her first few hisses the big cats gave the carrier, and our girl, a wide berth. Eventually our girl did come out of the carrier, but was very defensive. Our boy was good to go almost immediately. He showed some uncertainty (which is natural, being in a new place), but was very excited to play with his brother!
At night our kittens slept in a bathroom with their carrier, a bed, food, water and a litter box so that they could sleep and relax without fear of, or interruption from, the other cats. We continued to have them sleep in the bathroom through the trip and it was very successful.
Over the next few days our girl gradually became more comfortable. We continued to keep a close eye on the cats and made sure that their interactions were all acceptable. There was no aggression towards our kittens from the adult cats throughout the trip. I believe some of the keys to successful cat introduction is to take personalities into account and go slow! It takes most cats many days to really feel comfortable in a new environment. Also, don’t force your cats into any interactions. Let them move at their own pace and reassure them that you are there!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!