Are you thinking about another cat but worry that your friends will officially label you the crazy cat lover? Are you concerned that your solitary pet is lonely while you’re away from home during the day?
Introducing a second, third (or, oh what the heck, fourth) cat into your home can be tricky. You want this to work for everyone involved—from you and the people who live in your house to your existing animal companions and your prospective new feline family member. All things considered, though, adding a new cat to your life can be a great plan.
We offer the following guidelines for successfully establishing a new house tiger in your life:
1. Start by asking yourself why you need to add a new cat to the comforts of your home. For some cat owners, the answer is companionship.
Contrary to the opinions of the dogs-only crowd, cats make excellent companion animals. They’re smart, quiet, cuddly, and clean. Cats can be a source of comfort in grief or pain and full of joie de vivre in the good times. Why wouldn’t you want another one around? For other cat lovers, it may be a desire to rescue an animal. Only about 1.6 million cats will be adopted from animal shelters this year. Twice that number will Guide to Second Cat Introductions.
Or maybe you just enjoy the distinct, engaging personalities of these quirky animals. You’ve got a loner; wouldn’t it be fun to add a party animal to the mix? It’s best to make no plans until you know for sure why you’re adding a new kitty king or queen to your castle.
Are you looking forward to playing matchmaker? No? Unless they’re spayed and neutered, then, it’s best not to introduce a cat of a different sex to your existing pet. One amorous encounter, and you may find yourself with a litter problem even Modkat can’t help you solve.
An alpha cat doesn’t need competition. Two beta cats or an alpha and a beta should be fine. You don’t want to spoil everyone’s pleasure in the home with regular bouts of squalling, spitting and biting between your lovies. That’s not fun for anyone, least of all the cats themselves. Two high-strung, queenly cats could stage a drama worthy of Game of Thrones right in your living room.
Cats of all sizes love their solitude. No matter how gregarious your animal is, private space is important.
It’s a good idea to keep new cats separated for a least two days. During that time, your first pet will be aware there’s another cat in the house, but the two of them won’t be overwhelmed. Switch their beds every day, and swap rags with each other’s scents. Make sure both animals are flea and parasite free. Untreated cats can trade pests faster than a couple of fourth graders can trade sports cards.
On the second or third day, you can introduce the two cats through the bars of a cat carrier. Do this several times a day for two to three more days before you let the animals have direct contact with each other, still supervised by you, of course.
In the wild, cats establish a hierarchy. In your house, they’ll do the same. It will likely take some days and plenty of patience from all involved while the tigers tussle it out. There are ways to help minimize frustration during the tussle. One simple way is to have plenty of toys on hand.
An alpha cat can block a beta cat from using a litter box. The worst part of that may be that the beta cat will resort to using your floor, couch or comforter as a toilet if she can’t have access to the litter box.
Make sure each litter box is easy to access. Cats, especially cats living in a brand-new environment, can get frustrated when the opening to their litter box is blocked or hard to get to. If you have a multi-level house, set up one litter box on the main floor and the other boxes on the other floors.
A feline family is often more fun than a single cat. So if you’re thinking about adding a new furbaby, tick off the answers to our questions and go for it. Just make sure to follow smart guidelines so your pet can have a safe and happy introduction to his new family.