Ernest Hemingway, the famous ailurophile, said that “one cat just leads to another”, a phrase I believe many of us can relate to. Cats are such wonderful companions, so why settle for just one?
First, there are the “technical” considerations – Do you have enough money to care for a second cat? Do you have enough room for two felines to comfortably live under your roof? Do you have enough time to devote to two pets? Assuming the answer is yes, you also need to consider the needs and wants of a very special someone – your resident cat.
Cats are territorial, and pretty much any cat will be stressed out by a new addition to the household – it is only the intensity of the reaction that changes from one cat to another and varies by age, sex and most of all, temperament. That said, there is a lot you can do to increase the chances for a successful transition from a single cat to a happy multi-cat home.
As you should know by now, cats are idiosyncratic creatures, with different cats having entirely different personalities. To facilitate a happy merger, you have to be a good matchmaker and do your best to get the right “other cat” for your resident feline. Here are a few tips that may help you choose.
Your second cat: Age matters
As a general rule, kittens are far more energetic than adult cats. For the cats to eventually play together, try to match their ages. This doesn’t mean they actually have to be of the exact same age, but it could work out better if they are at the same “life phase”. Bringing a super lively kitten to an old sedentary cat is usually not a good idea, although as with any rule there are exceptions where older cats take on a maternal role and look after the young one.
Your second cat: Male or female?
There is no one good answer to this question, but it seems like adult males (neutered of course!) get along better with fellow males. A mature female may do better with a younger female cat (though not necessarily a kitten).
Your second cat: Temperament issues
This is probably the most crucial aspect of feline matchmaking, and the one most difficult to assess. While you know your cat well, it may be difficult to figure out the personality of his or her future companion when you don’t have enough time, if any, to properly assess their behavior. This is where a good shelter can help out – workers and volunteers often know the cats well enough and can help you see which would be the best fit for you and your cat. Generally speaking, you are looking for a friendly cat that shows no signs of aggression towards other cats and that has the same energy level as your resident cat.
Your second cat: Is breed a factor?
Yes and no. A cat’s breed, if he or she is pedigreed, can give you some indication about their temperament. Never rely solely on the cat’s breed as your guide.
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Keep in mind that even when you make the perfect choice, you still need to introduce the cats to each other gradually and “by the rules”. The introduction phase can make or break a future feline friendship, so take your time and do it properly. Read more about introducing cats here.
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