When looking at cats and kittens, it can seem that transitioning to a multi-cat household will be easy and without any real issues. This can be the case, but many times it is not. Instead, introducing new animals to each other can take time and a lot of patience.
The first concern is ensuring that the existing cats in a living situation feel comfortable. Cats that are not comfortable in their environment may pull out their hair, vomit from stress, develop litter box issues, or become aggressive towards their owners. This change is often seen as a reason to get rid of a new pet or to get rid of the old pet. However, this is not necessary and there are many steps that can be taken to make all of the cats in a house feel at home.
Ensuring that each cat has enough space within the house can go a long way towards making the introduction easier. At first a new cat or kitten may be confined for the night and part of the day in a different room. This allows the other cats to understand the new smell yet not feel threatened. During the day when interaction can be monitored it is fine to let the new cat or kitten out of the room. This also allows for the existing cats to smell the room as well.
With kittens, many do no understand why the older cats do not want to play. This can lead to situations where the older cat hisses or bats at the kitten. This is completely normal and is actually part of the process used to determine the hierarchy.
if any cat or kitten seems particularly stressed there are remedies available to help smooth over periods of great stress. Some of the more well known ones are Rescue Remedy, Feliway, and one available from Jackson Galaxy. All of these work by imitating the hormones a calm and contented cat emits. This allows the cats and kittens to feel more comfortable in a given situation.
To truly feel comfortable together, a mutual grooming scent must be established. This can be aided by petting one cat and then petting the kitten or other cat. By doing this the smell is slowly transferred between the two cats.
It is important to never force cats together if they express reluctance or other negative emotions. This will actually cause the process to backslide as these negative emotions will now be associated with the new cat or kitten. Instead allow the cats to move at their own speed.
Finally, one of the most common places for issues and attacks to happen is the litter box. This can usually be remedied by making sure each cat has their own litter box with an extra litter box as well. Trying to keep these apart will ensure that each cat feels they have enough space when they are at their most vulnerable.
Taking the time to ensure that each cat is comfortable and happy can lead to a smoother introduction and better relationships later in life.