Will my cat get along with a new kitty?
MULTI-CAT HOUSEHOLDS - THE PROS AND CONS I want to get a cat but someone told me I should get two together – is this true? Cats were once considered to be solitary creatures but, while there are some solitary aspects to their behavioural patterns, we now know that, although there may be individual differences, they are in fact social animals who benefit from interaction with their own and other species. As a result of this knowledge there has been a move to promote ownership of more than one cat, and in particular to encourage owners to take on two cats at the same time. This can be beneficial as the cats play together and provide each other with both physical and mental stimulation. If you are taking on more than one kitten it is certainly better to consider taking on two. You can raise young kittens from different litters, provided that you take them on at a very early age, preferably before they are seven weeks old. Adopting two slightly older kittens may work out, but the general rule is that the younger the kittens are when brought together, the more easily they will accept each other as part of their social group.
~~~If I already have a single cat, should I consider getting another cat to keep it company? If your cat is an adult and is established within your home as the only cat, then you should think carefully about introducing another feline. The majority of cats are hostile to other felines, if they are not related, and there is certainly no guarantee that your cat will thank you for its new playmate. However, some cats, if they have been sufficiently socialized to other cats or are particularly sociable (genetically) do benefit enormously from feline company. Therefore, the decision has to be made on a caseby- case basis. If your cat has been seen in the company of other cats without excessive fear or aggression, it may be possible to integrate a new cat into the household. An easy-going cat may accept most other cats, while a timid and shy cat may be reluctant to accept another cat, depending on the new cat's personality. An active and assertive cat may overwhelm quieter and more timid cats, making introductions difficult. Attempting to match personality types may be useful when seeking out another companion for your cat. When you are introducing a second feline you need to remember that they need to establish their own space within the home. It might be best therefore to provide the new cat with a separate housing area and slowly integrate the cats during times when they are likely to be occupied, distracted or enjoying themselves (such as feeding, play or treat times). Key resources such as food, shelter and social interaction need to be available in sufficient amounts to ensure that there is no unnecessary conflict. It is sensible to space these resources around the home to minimise the need to share them directly. Increasing the amount of available space within the home can be achieved by making use of three dimensional features of the house by adding furniture and shelving which allow the cats to make use of vertical as well as horizontal space. If problems arise, an extended period of separation followed by a very gradual re-introduction, perhaps accompanied by the use of pheromones and/or drugs, might need to be considered. Reading their body language will be a tremendous help.
~~~Is it cruel to keep a cat as a single pet? Although cats are social creatures, they are ultimately solitary survivors. Cats can live alone perfectly happily, and, provided that they have sufficient supply of safe territory, food and affection from their owners, they will survive very well. This does not mean that they would not benefit from the presence of another cat, but it does mean that cats who are used to living alone are not likely to be suffering as a result. You will know best if your existing cat would like the company of another feline.
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