What is better than having one cat? Having two? While having two cats may work well and be beneficial both for your cats and yourself there are some definite risks involved.
Many people believe that cats are solitary creatures that dislike having other cats and pets around in the same household. The truth is that felines are social creatures and can enjoy the company of other cats. However, most cats prefer living with their relatives, or more specifically, their littermates.
Pros and cons of having two cats
Pros of having two cats
Having more than one cat in a home is beneficial both for you and your pet. In fact, many shelters are encouraging people who are planning to adopt cats to get more than one cat, pushing for littermates to be adopted together.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider getting another feline to accompany your pet.
1. Your cat will be entertained
If you spend most of your day outside your home, getting another cat means that your current cat will have a companion that can keep him happy while you are away. Your current cat may also need less attention from you.
2. You can keep your cat’s destructive behavior at bay
Aside from keeping your pet entertained, getting another cat can help your pet stave off boredom which is one of the underlying causes of destructive behavior. Having a companion allows your cat to channel his boredom and anxiety toward playing and socializing with another cat.
3. Happier household
There are plenty of benefits to owning a single cat. What more with having more than two? Simply put, having more than one cat compounds the benefit of having a single cat.
Cons of having two cats
To make an informed decision, you also need to know the following disadvantages of having two or more cats:
1. Additional expenses
Getting another cat means that you will have another mouth to feed. Plus, you will also need to buy more supplies and accessories, from litterboxes to feeding bowls. But apart from these, you should also factor in veterinary expenses. If both your cats get sick, the expenses involved will be considerably greater compared to having just one cat.
2. More work for you
Another thing that you should consider before getting another cat is that another feline in the household means more work for you. You will need to allocate more time for all the responsibilities involved, from grooming to cleaning the litter box.
3. Socializing two cats is challenging
Unless you are getting two cats from the same litter, you will face a difficult time in getting two cats to get along. Cats are territorial creatures. Simply put, it will take a lot of time and effort before your current cat accepts the new feline member of the household.
Considerations for getting a new cat.
If you have carefully weighed the pros and cons of getting another cat, and you think that you are prepared for the added responsibilities, there are a few considerations that you should bear in mind before going to a shelter or breeder.
The chance of two cats bonding exceptionally well increases when the two felines are from the same litter. Although cats are social animals, their territorial nature poses a significant barrier in getting two unrelated felines to form a successful bond. As such, if you are planning to get two cats, the better option would be to get two from the same litter.
If this is not possible, your next best option would be to get two kittens which are roughly the same age, preferably around seven weeks old. Although it is possible to get two kittens from different litters that are a bit older, you will face a few challenges raising them together.
Your cat’s personality
But what if you already own an adult cat?
There are no clear cut guidelines about getting another cat when you already have an adult feline in your home. Some have done so successfully while others did not. Again, you have to consider the fact that cats are territorial and generally dislike having new cats in their home.
You also have to factor in your pet’s disposition toward other cats. If you have socialized your cat with other felines at a young age, it might be easier for him to warm up to a new cat in your home.
However, if he has previously displayed signs of aggression toward other cats, getting a new pet may not exactly be the best idea.
You will also need to consider each cat’s personality. Some cats, by nature, are easy-going and instantly accept the addition of other felines in the household. Other cats are shy by nature and may instantly dislike having a feline companion.
Gender and age of the cats
If you already own an adult cat, you should strongly consider getting a kitten or a young adult instead of another feline which is roughly the same age as your current cat. Generally, adult cats are more accepting of younger felines because they do not need to worry much about their position in the household. Plus, your current cat can help train a younger feline.
If you are planning on getting an older cat, consider your current pet’s gender. Ideally, you should get a new cat of the opposite gender. Male and female pairings usually work well. Male cats can, in average, share the same space with less fuss while female cats generally dislike having another female cat in their home.
Preparing your home and cat for your new pet
If you do decide to bring another feline home, there are a few important things that you need to do. Simply put, you cannot just bring a new feline home.
Follow these tips to fast-track the bonding between your cat and your new pet.
1. Setting up your home
First, make sure that your cats have areas where they can retreat to. That can mean adding new shelves or setting different rooms for each feline until they have bonded.
Next, get another litter box for your new cat. Some cats avoid using litter boxes when another feline moves in while others exhibit marking tendencies. Getting a new litter box can help prevent both.
Initially, your two cats may scratch and claw more than usual. As such, it is highly recommended to get more scratching posts readily available in your home.
Initially, you have to keep both cats separate from one another. As such, you will need to find the new cat a room where he can sleep and eat just until he has successfully integrated into your home.
2. Taking your new cat to your home
When you bring your new cat home, be sure to bring his favorite towel or blanket. Cats feel safe when they smell their own scent.
Upon arrival, go straight to the room you set up for your new cat. Open the cat carrier and allow him to explore the room. However, do not force him to come out because he may still be stressed after the journey home. Leave him in the room to help him settle down.
3. Introducing each cat’s scent to one another
Before actually introducing each cat face to face, you need to let both of them become familiar with each other’s scent. Start by placing the new cat’s blanket or towel to your resident cat’s favorite spot in your home. Allow him to take a whiff of the new cat’s scent. Watch your resident cat’s behavior. If he urinates, hisses, or ignores the towel, put it near the resident cat’s food bowl.
Do the same with the new cat.
Another trick that you can try to fast-track the successful introduction of each cat is to switch their food bowls. This allows both cats to associate the smell of the two felines with something positive.
There is no strict timeline when both cats will accept each other’s scents. At best, it can take a few hours for both cats to accept each other’s smell. At worst, you are looking at a few months.
4. Letting both cats see each other
The first time you allow both cats to see each other, make sure that you place a barrier between them. A baby gate will often do. While you are allowing them to see each other, you should give each of them treats or you can play with both of them. This helps make their introduction a positive experience.
If they sniff at each other’s nose, this means that they are ready to go to the next stage of the introduction.
If they display hostile behavior like hissing or growling, you will have to wait a bit longer. You should feed them at the same time while separated by a barrier.
If there are no signs of aggression between two felines, you can introduce them to each other without a physical barrier. Put them together in the same room and allow them to roam around freely. Do not pick either of them to bring to the other one. Just let them be.
If the two cats fight each other, scare them off by clapping. At this point, you should not leave the two cats alone. You should also have to watch out for signs of bullying and aggression.
If either cat remains aggressive, you have to repeat the previous swaps, especially the part where you introduce each other’s scent.
You should also manage your expectations. Ideally, the two should play and groom one another. However, consider it a win if they just tolerate each other.
A new cat is a big responsibility
Getting a pet is a big responsibility. More so if you keep more than one. The idea of getting a new cat may seem appealing now. But before deciding to get a new pet, make sure that you weigh the pros and cons first. Unless you are ready for the added responsibility, you risk making life harder, not only for you but for your pets.
Image: istockphoto.com / laimdota