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Should I Let My Kitten Play With My Cat?

If you have a kitten and a resident cat you may be wondering if it’s OK to leave them playing together…

Should I Let My Kitten Play With My Cat?

Yes… as long as they have been properly introduced. When you bring a new kitten to the house, the first time that they meet your cat you need to be there and you want to be close. First introductions sometimes go along without a hitch, but remember that cats dislike when anything in the home changes.

If they fight, separate them, and check the kitten to see if blood has been drawn. Some fighting is to be expected, but this is more territorial than the intention to actually hurt the kitten. If your cat is keeping their claws retracted and not biting hard enough to pierce the skin, then this is actually a good sign

It means that your cat is grudgingly accepting the kitten, but letting them know in no uncertain terms who is the boss of the house.

Is my cat likely to harm my kitten?

Gray tabby cat playing on the floor with orange tabby cat.

A gray tabby cat playing on the floor with an orange tabby cat.

While your cat may hiss and even swat at the kitten, usually they will stop short of actually harming them. If your cat is drawing blood in interactions with the kitten, however, then you will need to separate them for a space.

Little things like giving the kitten their litter box and keeping the food bowls separated by distance can help your cat to feel less threatened, and be sure that the older cat is getting plenty of attention as well. Beyond that, make sure that you always supervise interactions until it is apparent that they are now getting along.

How will I know if my cat can’t be trusted with the kitten?

A lot of it is going to be in their body language. For example, if your cat is putting their tail between their legs, or if their fur is standing on end, then they are still very volatile and stressed.

Other signs, such as excessive meowing, urinating outside of their litter box, or hissing and outright threatening should also not be ignored. It will be very easy to tell your cat’s feelings about the new kitten, but we should warn you – your cat may decide to simply ‘tolerate’ the kitten and never really spark up a friendship.

Keep a close eye for the first 2 to 4 weeks to stay on the safe side and by then you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from their interactions.

What is the best way to introduce my kitten and cat?

Cats are very scent-oriented, so the best thing to do before they properly meet is to take something from both your cat and your kitten to give to the other so that they can learn each other’s scents. You can make the first introduction much safer with a plastic crate, as well.

Place the kitten in the crate in the middle of a quiet room, so that you can call your cat in and let them investigate. The cage-front of the crate should protect the kitten and they can smell each other directly. After a day of this, try introducing them without the crate.

If it goes well, then just keep supervising visits, otherwise, keep the kitten in the crate for brief introductions daily. Your cat should relax after a day or two – just monitor all interactions for the next 2 to 4 weeks before relaxing your guard.

Is it normal for a cat and kitten to play-fight?

Yes, play fighting is completely normal and is to be expected. The older cat is establishing their territory, so while the fights might be a bit playful, they are a serious thing to cats.

Your older cat is letting the kitten know that they are the boss and right now the new kitten is barely ‘tolerated’ until further judgment is made. Usually, within a week or two, they’ll be getting along like gangbusters, but in the beginning, fights are very common.

Separate them when you need to and check the kitten to make sure that the older cat is not drawing blood. If they are not actually piercing the skin, then this is a good sign that they’ll be getting along better very soon – once the kitten acknowledges the ‘boss of the house’.

Can my kitten play with other cats?

Two gray tabby kittens playing on top of a comforter.

Two gray tabby kittens playing on top of a comforter.

All play with other cats must be supervised, as you really can’t predict how the older cat is going to behave. Some cats will take up an almost paternal role, grooming the kitten and seeming to watch out for them, while other cats will react with outright venom.

For at least the first few weeks, you will need to watch and possibly mediate any encounters that your kitten has with a new cat until they get to know each other. Otherwise, your kitten could easily get harmed and you don’t want to risk that!

How do I know if my kitten is playing or fighting with my cat?

Play fighting usually is a bit more like wrestling. While you might hear a little hissing, usually you see a quick ‘tangle’ and then one cat is pushed on their back until they relax as if saying ‘okay, you win!’.

What you need to watch for is body language such as flattened ears or the older cat leaning away and hissing – these are threat responses, not friendly ones. If you see this, then it’s time to separate the two and try more supervised interaction a little later so that the older cat has more time to adjust.

How do I stop my kitten from attacking my cat?

First off, make sure that you aren’t encouraging rough play yourself! Whenever your kitten starts getting aggressive, then you should stop play immediately. You can distract them, as well, with a string, ball, or another cat toy, and don’t have any direct play until they calm down.

Unless your cat seems annoyed, you can also allow a certain amount of play fighting between them. This is quite normal behavior and one of the ways that your kitten learns to defend themselves when they are older.

Watch for signs like learning away and hissing and the flattening of kitty ears, and check after any play fights to make sure that your kitten isn’t bleeding. Finally, put a plastic baby barrier gate up in the doorway of one room.

This will help to keep your kitten from harassing your cat too much and getting swatted for their troubles by their tired, irritated senior cat.

Should you let cats fight it out?

No, you don’t want to let them keep fighting if it seems that things are getting out of hand. The easiest thing to do is to keep a squirt gun handy so that you can separate the warring felines at a distance with a quick spray of harmless water.

Separate the cats and use a crate if you need to, but never let them simply fight it out – it will only escalate and someone might get seriously hurt!

How do you introduce a kitten to a cat?

Cats are very particular about scents, so before they ever meet, you want to make sure that both the older cat and the kitten have sampled each other’s scents. This is done by taking a blanket, pillow, or another item from each cat and giving it to the other.

After a day of letting them get used to the scents, introduce them but keep your kitten in a plastic crate for safety. Let them interact this way, through the safety of the metal grill in the crate, and if reactions aren’t too dramatic then you can soon start letting them interact with your close supervision.

Lindsey Browlingdon