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Will my cat hurt a new kitten?

My husband and I have rescued cats for over 30 years. We have a good amount of experience to pass on to other potential and experienced cat parents’ essential information. However, no one is so experienced, old, or wise that they cannot learn something new. 

We have raised a slew of cats from the first day of a cat’s existence to adopting senior cats without too much time left on earth. We have adopted stray cats and purchased cats from pet stores or breeders. We have heard it all and seen it all. Yet, it never fails that we learn and see something we never knew. 

In our early years of owning cats, we had heard from other cat owners that an adult male or female cat may kill a kitten with whom they share their home. This made us think twice about having kittens along with older cats. We have had three separate litters of kittens born in our home and kept all of them. We never had a problem with an older cat harming a new kitten. 

Currently, we have six senior cats. Three years ago, a lovely eight-week-old male showed up at our door in -20 degree weather and a snow storm. Lil’ Luke is now three years old, a joy to have, and the youngest cat in our home. He sleeps and plays with our five-year-old female Siamese cat Willow. We found out that these two friends are real trouble-makers. We have no problems with any of our cats getting along. 

Will My Cat Hurt A New Kitten?

If you are concerned about mixing your adult cats with a new kitten, your concerns are legitimate, and there are definitive reasons why this could happen.

  • The mother cat can roll on and suffocate a kitten unintentionally.
  • A jealous male cat may injure or kill a kitten.
  • A male cat is known to kill the kittens of another male cat.
  • Other cats rough-house playing with the kitten, causing injury or death.
  • A temperamental and aggressive cat with a bad attitude in the same house increases the risk of harming a kitten.
  • Unneutered male cats may have an increased desire to kill kittens. 
  • Raw instincts of male and female cats, especially a tomcat, to kill 
  • Conflict and competition among cats can injure or kill a kitten. 
  • Territorial issues of cats may cause harm to a kitten. 
  • Mother cats with no mothering instinct could harm her kitten.
  • If a kitten is sick, the mama cat may kill the baby. 
  • A starring cat at a kitten could mean trouble. 
  • Resident pets can keep a new kitten away from food, water, toys, and litter pan. 

Our Personal Experience Mixing Adult Cats with Kittens

Our very first cat, Mama Beebe, was pregnant when we adopted her. She delivered a male and a female baby in her first litter. She refused to feed the female, so we had to bottle-feed the baby. We had no idea why she was doing this. We never had cats before. This was all new to us.

Not long after this kitten was born, the vet told us it had a congenital heart defect and would not live long. Mama knew already that this baby would not survive. She never tried to harm the baby but would gently shove the kitten to the side and refuse to feed her. Her baby died after one month. Mama Beebe was a wise cat and proved to be an excellent mother and grandmother. Mama lived to be 19 years old and is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge with others in our family. I will hug her again.

For the most part, we found that the adult cats adopted our kittens, and we had up to six newborns at one time. We watched our adult cats, both male and female, closely and found that the adults shared the caregiving and teaching of the kits with Beebe. Mama Beebe first had to trust the other cats being around her brood and we never had problems. This is not to say that other cat owners do not have issues. We were fortunate.

Do Cats Hurt Kittens? Why Might A Cat Hurt A Kitten? 

It is said that adult cats, both male and female cats, usually do not intend to hurt a kitten. Sometimes, an adult cat has every intention of causing a kitten injury or death. As mentioned above, there are reasons why a cat might hurt a kitten. 

However, for over 30 years, we never saw this happen in our home. Sometimes cats do scrap, and we have experienced some pretty good fights. But, when you think about it, humans do the same thing when living under the same roof. Cats are no different. People and pets can wear each other down until there is an argument or fight. I believe that this is normal behavior for animals and people. 

Please refer to the list above and read on for more valuable information. 

How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Kitten?

As with human beings, no one cat has the same makeup as another. It can take many days, weeks, months, or never for an adult cat to get used to sharing its home with a new kitten. These cats may never get used to each other but tolerate each other’s presence. These cats may never want to keep each other company or play together. 

Some adult cats will more or less adopt the new kitten. As in our experience with Mama Beebe’s five kids, she had the love and support of the other cats in her household. There may have been a few cats that did not mind the kittens but tolerated their presence. Others shared in the kitten’s upbringing. 

In situations where there are adult cats in addition to kittens, you never know what you will get. You must be prepared for anything to happen. Our family was fortunate and lucky, to say the least.

How to Get My Cat to Accept A New Kitten?

Adopting a new kitten into your family is joyous and exciting. It is excellent news for everyone, except your cat (s) sometimes. Cats are very territorial in their home, and frequently other cats are reluctant to accept the kitten with open arms. It is normal if your resident cat (s) snubs you and the kitten for a spell. Acceptance of the new kitten by your resident cat (s) may take days, months, or never. Tolerance may be the best that your resident cat can do. 

We brought two beautiful adult female cats into our home about five years ago. Their owner said she was tired of them and would have them euthanized if no one took them. How very sad! I do not have words for this woman, and her attitude broke my heart. Pets are not disposable! I am just glad that I was in the right place at the right time. 

Two of our cats never accepted these sisters’ presence and continued to pick on them. One of the sisters will actually scream bloody murder if another cat comes near her, and each sister comes to the other’s rescue. Have you ever heard a cat scream? All Sophia needs is to have Lil’ Luke look at her, and she screams loud enough to stop our hearts. Lil’ Luke does not have to do anything but walk past her. However, he and his friend Willow do their share of picking on the sisters.

We coined these sisters “The Twisted Sisters.” Isabella hangs with me, and Sophia is my husband’s sidekick. The point is, they tolerate our other four cats, and our other cats tolerate them. Sometimes they all sleep together without a word or scream. Cats will do what cats do.

Typically, it can take up to a year for an adult cat to bond with a kitten, or never. Cats are not creatures of change, and change is stressful, so perhaps your older cat will never accept the kitten, and they will agree to stay away from each other or become inseparable. Bringing a new pet into your household is always stressful. I say it always tends to upset the balance of normalcy in your home for a short time.

  • Never introduce a new cat to other cats without a warming up period.
  • Keep your new cat in another room for a few days and let the cats pick up their scents.
  • Exchange their toys so each can become accustomed to the cat’s scent.
  • Give your resident cat more attention while playing with the kitten.  
  • Try giving your cat treats while playing with your kitten.
  • Expect some hisses from each cat. This is a normal reaction. When a cat hisses, it is a warning to stay away from them. If the kitten does not stay away, your cat will go the other way or attack the kitten, so close supervision is needed. Never punish your cats because they hiss.
  • Keep new cats separate from the established pet for a few days.
  • Provide a new kitten with its own food and water dishes, litter pan, and toys.
  • Recognizing each other’s scents makes it easier to introduce them to each other. 
  • Allow both cats to look at each other with no physical contact. It is wise to introduce your cat to the new kitten by keeping the kitten in a secure cat carrier. Offer treats to both and shower both with attention. 
  • After a few meetings, both pets should be comfortable meeting physically and interacting. If either become scared or fearful, one may attack the other.