5 Steps to Introducing Your New Kitten to Your Resident Cat

Tips posted on July 08 2016 by
Guest Post by Jenny Dean of


Jenny Dean of Floppycats photo

Getting a kitten is one of the most exciting things that can happen in life.

However, if you already have a resident kitty at home, there are some necessary steps to take in order to ensure that both cats live harmoniously.

Here are five steps to follow when it comes to introducing your new kitten to your resident cat.


1. Set Up a Safe Room

It is not advisable to bring your kitten home and immediately introduce it to your resident kitty. Rather, you want to have a safe room ready to go.

A safe room is a room like a bedroom that preferably has a bathroom attached to it. The kitten should be placed in that room with its toys, bed, litter box and food. Ideally, it would be a bedroom where your resident cat doesn’t sleep every night and also one where your kitten can get used to a human in the house.

The safe room allows your kitten to get used the sounds and smells of your home, and allows your resident kitty to get used to the smells of a new kitten without the threat of it. You want to keep the kitten in the safe room for 1-2 weeks. During those 1-2 weeks the kitten will stop smelling like the shelter or breeder it came from and will rather start smelling like your home, which is less threatening to your resident cat. It will also allow for the kitten to be cleared health wise to make sure s/he is not bringing home any diseases to your resident kitty.

Vet 2 Litter Robot

2. Take Your Kitten to the Vet

This is essential in the first few days and especially before it comes in contact with the other pets in your home. You want your vet to clear your kitten of any diseases or issues, so that you don’t end up with two sick cats.

3. Scent Exchange

It is important to allow both the new kitten and your cat to get used to each other’s scents.

To start off the process, take a soft cloth or a clean sock and wipe it around the new kitten’s face, under the chin, ear to ear, where some of the scent glands are located. Once you have the scent on the towel, offer it to the kitten or cat and do the same with the opposite.

Once the kitten’s health has been cleared by a vet, you can take the kitten from the safe room (maybe about the first week, depending on how curious your kitten is) and put your resident cat in the safe room for an hour. Allow the resident cat to smell the entire room, use the litter box, eat the kitten’s food (assuming your resident kitty has no health issues) and more. Meanwhile, do the same with the kitten—allowing s/he to explore the rest of the house.

4. Face-to-Face

cat sniffing

Facilitate a face-to-face meeting. You can do this a few ways. You can put up a baby gate in the doorway of the safe room and allow the kitten and resident cat approach each other in their own time. Or, you can put the kitten in a carrier that smells like your resident cat, and then bring the kitten in the closed carrier into the resident cat’s area and set it down. Allow the resident cat to approach the carrier in his or her own time—smelling, hissing, etc.

5. Patience

Patience is a virtue in this process. It is SO important not to hurry this process. Once the cats seem to be calm at the sight of each other, it is probably safe to introduce the two without barriers like the pet carrier and baby gate. Make sure that they are supervised during this initial meeting. If there are any problems during this time, go back a step to allow each cat more time to view each other on opposite sides of the baby gate.

It is best to have one person hold the kitten and another hold the resident cat—preferably the person that the resident cat is most comfortable with. If the cats do well for a short time at a great distance, the next day repeat the process by decreasing the distance between them by a foot or two and increase the time they have to check each other out. On the first day start about 10 feet apart for 5 minutes, the next day try 8 feet apart for 10 minutes and so on and so forth. I know it sounds tedious, but believe me, it’s worth it!

Realistic Expectations

If several days go by and you feel like your cats are tolerating each other, let them explore the room and find each other at their own speed. There will be some degree of posturing between them in order to figure out who’s who. Ideally you would like for them to be able to be in the same room or on the same piece of furniture without fighting.

A Ragdoll Kitten Care Guide Jenny Dean of Floppycats

Realistic expectations are for them to tolerate one another. If you’re lucky, then they may turn out to really like or love one another.

These 5 steps should give you an overview of what to shoot for and what to expect—but there are certainly more detailed ways of how to tackle it.

Our eBook, A Ragdoll Kitten Care Guide: Bringing Your Ragdoll Kitten Home, has a dedicated chapter to introducing your kitten to a resident cat in more detail.


Have you introduced a resident cat to a new kitten? Was it successful? What steps did you take to ensure a harmonious encounter?


  • Deb Dennis

    From the time our daughter was a tiny toddler we have had cats and kittens in our home. My general rule was that if/when I adopted a female kitten we would allow her to mature and have 1 litter of kittens before spay/neutering her. So our child was exposed to this natural function early on. We also had a male cat or two during this time, as well as my daughter’s puppy. Newborn kittens came into the family smelling like the familiar “mommy cat” and it was she who chose when and how to introduce the babies to the rest of the animals.
    By the time my daughter was grown and in her own apt we each had our own adult neutered/spayed cat. My husband had bonded with a tiny “runt” female with beautiful long black fur that we named TW, and I had been adopted by one of the tabby males from her last litter of 5. This tiny male kitten abandoned play with his 4 siblings in favor of climbing into my lap as I worked at my desk or laying on my neck as I slept. I named him Mr Bill because he was so clumsy he was constantly falling or miss judging his jumpsp! We became inseparable. Then, at 8yrs old he got cancer. Vaccine Associated Sarcoma. After he passed it was 2+ years before I could think of a new kitten. I had no desire to adopt a full grown cat, but TW was now a mature 12yr old, we wondered how she would react to a baby.
    We got lucky and during an RV road trip we met a family with 6 kittens just barely old enough to adopt. I instantly fell in love with the single male tabby whom we named Harry Thomas after a character from a favorite book.
    Luckily the family said they would take Harry Thomas back if TW could not get along with him.
    We bought him a medium sized crate/kennel and created a home for him in it until TW was comfortable with him.
    It turned out that she treated him just like any of her former weaned kittens! Once his scent and hers were mixed from sharing the same kitchen she was quite happy. She never did warm to him, or want to snuggle like Harry did, but they built a great relationship. She was a huge help in teaching him to walk on his leash, as long as she walked ahead of him he would walk the same direction.
    TW died of old age at 19yrs. Now Harry Thomas is 3yrs old and we have adopted a pair of abandoned 4-wk old kittens. As before we have made a kennel into a kitten habitat and allowed Harry to see them at a distance. He never had kittens like TW did, so his experience with other cats is much more limited. So far he is aloof, doesn’t seem to mind the kittens in the spare room, but he does hiss at them whenever he sees them.
    I will check back and post again when I have progress to report. Since the kittens are not yet on solid food they remain in their kennel and feedings have progressed from every 4 hours to every 8 hours over a week’s time
    We are mimicking the way TW allowed her kittens to integrate into the other pets long ago. Will be interesting!

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