A reader asks Dr Platzhund if getting a kitten would have a negative impact on the tom-cat they already have.
Q: We have a 9-year-old tom-cat and are considering getting a kitten. Will the presence of the kitten have a negative impact on our cat?
A: Firstly, you need to address the reason why you want a kitten – is it for your benefit, or are you looking for a companion for your cat? Once you’ve established this, you must understand that cats aren’t sociable animals, so they don’t need companions. Your cat is familiar with his family members and his routine, so he may see the kitten as an intruding threat to his territory. A kitten may be cute for the family, but it puts a senior cat under pressure, due to alienation as the attention is shifted to the kitten. The kitten ‘trespasses’ on the senior cat’s territory. Introducing the kitten to your cat, without him getting aggressive, requires a lot of patience as you need to go about the introduction gradually. Try the following steps…
- Keep the kitten locked away in the least frequented area of the house, like your spare room, for three weeks. This allows your tom to get used to the kitten’s sound, presence and smell.
- After three weeks, let the kitten out and see how they both interact. A female kitten is the best and least competitive option.
- Maintain your normal attitude towards your tom by ignoring the kitten in his presence.
- Keep their feeding trays separate from each other.
- If your cat hisses, spits, paws and pounces, respect his authority by not protecting the kitten.
Follow these steps gradually and you may have harmony between the two. But if you divert too much attention to the newcomer, your male cat may desert you and find another home!