If you bring a new kitten into a household where there is already an older cat, the kitten is likely to settle and fit in easily, but it may take several weeks for the older, established cat to accept the presence of the newcomer. To avoid problems, you must be particularly careful to make a fuss of the established cat, not the newcomer, so that it realises that it has not been displaced in your affections and that it is still top cat.
The established cat in the household may feel threatened, and its initial reaction may be to ignore the kitten totally. It can take a long time for the older cat to accept the kitten as a permanent fixture.
Bringing a kitten into a household where there is already an older, established cat may make the old-timer feel threatened, both because its territory has been invaded by another cat and not least because of jealousy and competition for its owner’s attention. A common reaction is for the established cat to ignore the kitten completely for some time or, in extreme cases, it may even become aggressive in its actions towards the kitten.
It is quite common for the older cat to be bossy in its behaviour towards the kitten, which is its way of putting the newcomer in its place and showing it who’s boss. This bossy tendency can actually come in useful and an older cat can adopt the role of teacher in their relationship, teaching the kitten how to use the litter tray, how to play, how to fight, and how to use the cat flap.
At times, the resentment that the older cat feels towards the introduction of a rival may result in a breakdown of its usual, civilised behaviour. It may start to soil the house (a reaction that has also been observed in children on the arrival of a younger sibling), or it may stop eating or cleaning itself. Equally, it may also indulge in frantic, furious grooming, presumably in an effort to divert its attention from the newcomer.
Q. I have an eight-year old cat which has been with me since it was a kitten, and I have just taken in another kitten. The older cat hasn’t taken kindly to this new arrangement and attacks the kitten quite often. What can I do?
The only thing you can do is keep the two animals separate, reintroducing them to one another in a series of meetings, at which you must be present to keep an eye on things. It may take some time for your cat to accept the newcomer, but it should happen eventually so don’t give up.
Q. My cat has been funny with me since we got a new kitten. Do cats sulk and is he trying to tell me something?
Yes, cats do sulk, and your cat’s nose was definitely put out of joint when you introduced another cat. Time will heal the rift.
- It can be difficult for an older cat to cope with a lively, demanding kitten, just as it can be difficult for an elderly person to cope with a boisterous child.
- Siamese cats can become very jealous if the affections of their owners are suddenly divided and may quite suddenly leap on to their owner’s shoulder as a plea for affection.
- It usually takes about six to eight weeks before an established cat will accept a new one.