So you have a cat and now you want to get a second one. In fact, it is true that most cats do best in pairs so looking for a buddy is probably a good idea. But before you head off to the local animal shelter, there are a few things you need to know to ensure two happy cats and a happy you.
- Cats do best with friends of the same sex. The reason for this is female cats tend to be more reserved and independent while male cats are the “eternal kittens” who are more playful and outgoing. Therefore, putting a reserved cat with a crazy playful one does not work out too well. Also, male cats play differently than females. The males are much more rough and tumble while the females are a little less aggressive in their play behavior. The exception to this rule is if you have a really outgoing female or a really reserved male. The main point here is to match their personalities as much as possible.
- Cats do best with friends close to their age. So if you have a 12 year old cat, it is highly unlikely this cat will get along with a 4 month old kitten. I’m not saying that if you have a senior cat you should not get another cat. However, if you have an older cat that has been your only cat for a long time, you may want to keep it that way so that she can enjoy the rest of her life in peace. But if your senior cat is still really active and/or just recently lost a companion, then just make sure to get another adult (3 years+) cat.
- Introducing two cats is actually a long process. The new cat should be set up in a room all by himself with his litter box, food, water, toys, bed, etc. You resident cat should not be allowed into this room at all. After a day or two, take your new cat’s bed and maybe a toy or two and switch them with your resident cat’s things. This will allow the two cats to smell each other without them actually seeing each other. The next day or two, swap the cats. Put your resident cat in the room and let the new cat check the house out. Soon the two will be ready to meet. Give them time, let them check each other out and if things get heated, just separate them again for a few more days. This process can take up to two weeks, so be patient.
- Another reason why you want to put your new cat in just one room at first is because cats tend to hide when they feel threatened. So your new cat will very likely hide when he gets out of his carrier and you are going to want to know where he is! Instead of having to search your entire home to figure out where the cat is, you just have to find him in one room.
- The general rule is you should have as many litter boxes (or more!), water bowls and food bowls as you have cats. The reason for this is that cats are very clean and picky creatures so they will not use a dirty water bowl or a smelly litter box. There are always exceptions to the rule, but you should be safe rather than sorry. If a cat finds a litter box unsatisfactory, she will find a different place to go to the bathroom and no one wants cat pee on their bed.
- In these times of economic struggle, you should also ask yourself if you can afford a second cat. The day to day expense of a cat is not that much, but imagine if your cats get into a poisonous plant or one of them breaks a leg. Vet bills, especially the emergency room, can get into the thousands within minutes. Please seriously think about this before you decide to commit to your new family member.
- This is the most important factor when considering to get another cat: Make sure to get your next cat from the local animal shelter! There are many amazing cats in shelters that deserve homes and they will be forever grateful to you.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know! I am happy to help you with any of your animal issues.