Why you should have more than one cat
Every time I see cute cat videos posted on my Facebook feed, I think “Wouldn’t it be fun to get another cat?” After all, if one cat is great, more than one is even better. Some people think that cats are independent, solitary creatures, but most cats enjoy the company of other cats.
So, should I get another cat?
Cats that are carefully and slowly introduced can become good friends. Cats get bored and lonely just like people do. A second cat helps alleviate that. They can play together, burning off extra energy and calories (cats need exercise, too). Even if they’re just sleeping in the same room, most cats will enjoy the company of another cat. Having another cat takes the pressure off the human companion, who may work long hours or is busy trying to keep their sanity while they raise children.
Having a second cat will also save another life—not only the one you just adopted, but then a space opens up at the shelter to save another cat. Most shelters simply do not have enough space to accommodate all the homeless cats and kittens that they are presented with. By adopting a second cat, you save a life and enjoy twice as much love. It’s a win-win.
Bored and lonely cats are also more likely to develop behavioral issues, such as marking and scratching furniture. Cats that have another cat to play with are less likely to get into trouble. They have someone to play with, socialize with and conspire with.
Cats have different personalities, just like humans. Not every cat will become best friends with every cat they are introduced to, but for the most part, they can learn to at least tolerate each other. Just like people, just being around another cat is sometimes all they need.
Of course, there are a few things to consider when adopting another cat.
Ok, what do I need to consider?
Probably the easiest way to have multiple cats is to adopt two kittens who are from the same litter. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and they like each other already. Two kittens are tremendously entertaining. They stalk each other, play together, and are delightfully silly together.
What if I already have an adult cat?
When choosing your new feline companion, keep these things in mind:
- Gender–Sometimes two of the same sex have more difficulty getting along than one of each sex, but not necessarily. I have two male cats and they are very good friends.
- Activity level—very active cats will enjoy playing and wrestling with another cat with a similar energy level.
- Age—an elderly cat might not appreciate a kitten invading her space, but might welcome a more mature cat.
- Personality—some cats will enjoy a companion, and others will only begrudgingly tolerate it. And some cats just don’t like other cats.
- Size—cats who are of similar size are less likely to bully each other.
Just like people, cats will appreciate a proper introduction to a new family member.
Start small: When you bring your new kitty home, start off by keeping him or her confined to small area of your house—a den or a bedroom. Ideally not where the resident cat hangs out—you don’t want them to feel usurped. The resident cat should not feel inconvenienced in any way. Make sure the new cat has food, water, a litterbox and toys. The resident cat will catch on pretty quickly that something is up. They can smell the other cat, and probably hear them as well. This will hopefully get them to entertain the idea of a second cat in their household.
Make positive associations
Try to feed the cats at the same time, but on opposite sides of a door. Or talk to both cats through the door, so the resident cat starts to associate the new cat with good things.
Mingle scents: One trick you can try is to pet the new cat with a glove, or a towel, a sock—anything cloth will do. Spend a few minutes, then leave the item where the resident cat can sniff it. Cats can gather far more information based on scent than we can—their adorable little noses are fourteen times more sensitive than ours are.
Let them see each other
After a week or so, (they need time to adjust) let the cats see each other in a safe way. If you can have them see each other through a screen door that would be perfect. Not a lot of people have screen doors inside their homes, so you’re going to have to improvise. Not as ideal, have someone hold one cat and have someone else hold the other cat—a safe distance away.
Let them meet
It’s been at least a week and if everything has gone well so far, it’s time for the cats to meet each other. Just let the new cat out of its space and keep an eye out. Don’t make a big, huge deal of it. Let them go at their own pace. They have a lot to work out in these next few weeks. Don’t be surprised if the resident cat hisses and chases the newcomer. Chasing is fine, but don’t let them fight. However, Don’t get in the middle of them if they do fight. Make a really loud racket by banging two pans together, or throw water at them. If you have a squirt gun handy, that can work, too.
It may take a few months for them to start to get along, and even a few more months to become friendly. The fastest way to cause conflict between cats is to have them feel like they have to fight for resources. So be sure there are enough resources and that both cats have space to call their own. Make sure each cat has its own food dish, water dish, and litterbox. You need one litterbox for each cat. More than one scratching post is important—otherwise one of them may choose to scratch the furniture. Also make sure there are plenty of toys to go around.
Eventually, most cats can learn to get along
Are there any reasons why I wouldn’t want another cat?
Maybe a few.
- Expense—Two cats are more expensive than one cat. You need twice as much food, twice as much litter and twice as many trips to the vet.
- Jealousy–The resident cat is really bonded to you. They might not want to share with another cat. They might want you all to themselves.
- Space. If your apartment or living situation is really small, another cat might stress out the resident cat, not to mention you. If they have plenty of space, cats can at least avoid each other if they don’t get along. If they feel like they’re on top of each other, they will be stressed and might act out. N bmlp;
How can I tell if my resident cat would like a kitty companion?
Has your cat ever hung out with other cats? What was the situation at the shelter? Many shelters have “cat rooms” where several cats spend time together. If your resident kitty was in the community cat room before you brought him/her home, that’s a good indication that he enjoys the company of other cats. You can bring a friend’s cat over and see what happens, as sort of a trial run. Lastly, some shelters will consider letting you “foster” a cat if you’re considering adopting a second cat. This way you can see how the resident kitty does before you make a commitment. Keep in mind, though—some cats are slow to warm up to other cats, but they do warm up.
What if the worst-case scenario happens and they just don’t get along?
Most pet shelters are familiar with the difficulties of introducing a new family member. Make sure you tell them when you adopt that you have a cat already. They will be able to help you choose a cat that is amenable to living with another cat. Describe your current fur baby to them. Remember, they have a lot of experience with adoptions, and can probably help you choose a cat that is likely to work out. They want you to succeed. If they worst case scenario happens and all your cats do is fight, they will be willing to take the second cat back.
There is a lot to consider when you decide to adopt a second cat. However, if your cats accept each other and become friends (or at least friendly) it can add years to their lives by giving them a social outlet and more exercise. I have three cats, and they all get along, albeit some better than others. But I think they all appreciate each other. Cats are wonderful companions, and having more than one is twice the fun.