You may have heard that kittens get a “kitten pass” when introduced to other cats. Is that true? Yes and no – it depends on their personalities and experiences. It’s true that some adult cats who do not get along with other adult cats will be less upset when they first meet a kitten. Here are some reasons why:
- Size. Kittens or cats that are smaller than the resident adult cat are perceived as less of a threat, even when they hiss or growl.
- Height. Adult cats can jump up on top of a table or chair and easily be higher than a kitten. That vertical hierarchy reassures the adult cat.
- Play. Kittens like other animal babies have a strong instinct to play. This means they will often make friendly playful overtures to an adult cat, once they’ve settled in to a new space.
- Short attention spans. Kittens can be hissing and poofing up at the adult cat (who’s sitting on a chair looking down his nose at them) but then… ohhh a feather toy! Must pounce! Happy distractions like games and food are great tools to make positive associations about each other.
That said, usually a kitten is NOT the kindest choice for a sedate adult or senior cat. Kittens are full of energy and still learning how hard to bite, scratch, and pounce on feline friends. If you have a sedate adult or senior cat, a kitten can be years of torture. Great-grandpa might struggle as a full-time playmate for a baby then teenager kitten. If you have a choice, consider the unhappiness of an older cat who just wants to nap most of the time, and the frustration and boredom for the youngster, before you bring a new kitten home.
While a new kitten may not get a kitten pass, taking the time to pick a good potential match and doing a slow cat to cat introduction is well-worth the resulting harmony.