Do you worry your cat is lonely? Have you lost a pet and wonder if a new companion might help your remaining cat? Are you closing the door on the pitiful cries of a clingy kitty every morning on your way to work?
Adopting a second cat (or a dog) could ease your resident cat’s loneliness. Or it could ramp up your home’s stress levels.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of getting a friend for your cat and how to make a multi-cat household function smoothly.
Consider your resident cat’s age, temperament, and sex. Kittens accustomed to playing with a litter of brothers and sisters bond with a new friend quicker than a cat who has relished her me-time for many years. Be careful about introducing a bossy cat to a submissive one or vice versa. And unless you plan to be the human grandparent of 15-25 kittens each year, choose two desexed animals.
The individual animals and your home’s capacity to take care of them will determine if it’s possible to get a new friend for your cat.
Male or female? Kitten or mature cat? What about breeds?
If you are adopting the new cat from a shelter, see if you can introduce the shelter cat to your resident cat in a private room. That way, you can observe their first reactions to each other. After all, they’re the ones who ultimately decide if this friendship—and your household—will run easily.
For the ideal pairing, choose a younger and smaller cat who is the opposite sex of your resident cat. If you must pair two cats of the same sex, remember that females generally get along better than males. As far as age is concerned, kittens often miss their brothers and sisters and will take to a new comer whereas a mature cat may adjust more slowly, and a senior cat could resent a bouncy baby’s playful spirit.
Does breed matter when introducing a new friend to your cat? Yes!
Research shows that purebred pedigreed cats welcome other animals much more readily than mixed-breed shorthairs do. The hairless Sphynx, in fact, may be the feline family’s friendliest breed, possibly because these cats rely on humans and other animals to keep warm.
Be practical. Think about dishes, toys, and litter boxes.
Is your pad large enough to accommodate two cats, three litter boxes, double the number of cat toys, and an extra-large scratching tree? Can you afford to feed, pamper, and vaccinate two cats? (Hint: Pet health insurance can come in handy.) Will both cats have their own space?
If your cat’s long time companion dies, will getting a new cat alleviate her grief?
After losing a pet, it’s natural to think about adding a new animal to your home. Ask questions like: What kind of pet? How should I introduce them? When is too soon?
A cat can grieve the loss of its companion for up to six months. Your cat’s unhappiness alone, however, shouldn’t stop you from getting a new pet when you are ready. Remember that your resident cat may welcome or reject a new companion no matter when he or she is introduced. You know your cat’s personality best. You alone can make that decision wisely.
What other pets can make good friends for cats?
Maybe you’re thinking of getting a pet of a different species to befriend your cat. Contrary to popular lore, some dogs and cats get along famously. Many others do not play well with a different species, though, and it’s best to take extreme caution during early days if you choose to bring a dog into your cat-loving home. Interestingly, cats and rabbits can also form fast friendships although the rabbit needs to be caged for its own protection while you are away.
If you plan to form an inter-species household, take plenty of time to do your research on the best animals to choose and the right way to introduce them. After all, we want all our pets to be healthy and happy when they’re together.
Getting a friend for your cat can be a great decision. We’d like to think the more cats, the merrier. But we also know it’s critical to choose the new animal with care, introduce them slowly, and make sure you can responsibly care for multiple pets in your household.
“It looks nicer than any other hooded or open option we considered.”