Is having multiple cats better than having one cat?
Having multiple cats is generally a good idea if you are going to be leaving your cat alone for long periods of time.
If you are planning on having more than one cat, it is usually better to get two kittens of the same age or two adults that are used to living together.
Some breeds like the Siamese and Balinese are very human-orientated and do not cope well when left alone for long, it is therefore better to get such a breed a companion cat.If you already have a cat and you are considering getting another cat, there are several questions you need to ask yourself:
- Can you afford another cat? You will have to double up on food and the new cat will need the same veterinary care as the first one.
- Do you have the time to help the cats socialize and integrate and do you have the time to care for two animals?
- Do you have the space for two cats?
- Will you be able to deal with any behavior problems that might arise from having multiple cats?
Introducing a new cat
Introducing a new cat or any other pet, can sometimes cause more problems than it solves.
Cats that have been brought up together will be inseparable, and it is because of this that you should consider getting multiple cats from the start.
If you were not able to get multiple cats initially, you will have to ensure that you understand feline behavior before introducing another cat or pet to the household. With enough information, you will be better equipped to handle any situation that might arise.
If your existing cat is well socialized, there should not be any real problems integrating another cat or kitten into the household. The age, sex and personality of both cats will greatly predict the behavior displayed towards each other.
When you first arrive with the new cat, keep the cats separate for the first few hours. Prepare a room with a litter box, food and water where you can put the new cat, and keep the door closed so that any other pets (and children) cannot bother the cat.
Always supervise the first couple of introductions and never try to force the cats to be together - they should adjust to each other and the situation at their own pace. A pen is the easiest and safest method of introducing the new cat. You can alternate which cat is in the pen and which one is outside. This prevents harm coming to either of the cats.
Initially, the two cats might hiss and spit and back away from each other. If their behavior becomes threatening towards each other, remove the new cat and place him/her in the "isolation room" for a cooling off period.
Over the next couple of days, you can introduce the two cats without the pen, but do not leave them alone. You must be there to intervene to prevent any nasty situations.
Ensure that each of the cats have a safe place or bolt hole that they can retreat to when they feel insecure or threatened.
To prevent an established cat from feeling threatened about his status in the family, make sure that you give plenty of attention and affection to him.
The two cats will probably still be a bit skittish with each other, but will soon accept each other and become firm friends. The key is to give it time and to be patient.DO
- Allow the cats to investigate each other on their own time.
- Expect the cats to take a while to integrate.
- Integrate multiple cats gradually.
- Give the cats each their own litter trays and their own food bowls.
- Place the cats in a room together with their own food bowls with a tasty treat. Make sure that they each have a bolt hole that they can retreat to and stay with the cats in the room so that you can intervene should any issues arise. This will help the integration along.
- Adopt an attitude of "they will sort themselves out." This is irresponsible and dangerous.
- Ignore the established cat, as this can cause jealousy and behavior problems.
- Leave the cats alone until they are able to socialize without hissing and spitting. Even then, do not leave them alone for long periods of time.
- Expect things to happen overnight. Socialization and integration will take time and effort, but will be well worth it in the end.
If you have a dog and you are planning on getting a cat, much of the same advice applies. If your dog is well socialized, the integration should not be too difficult.
Do not let your dog come rushing at the cat or bark loudly as this will start things off badly. It is best to introduce the cat/kitten and the dog to each other using a pen. You can alternate which pet is in the pen.
Make sure that the cat or kitten has a bolt hole where it can retreat to when it feels threatened. Something like a tall scratch post with a hidey-hole is ideal as it will be too high for the dog to reach.
Provide a toy or a treat to distract the dog's attention from the cat. Do not force them together and do not under any circumstances leave the cat and the dog alone together until you are confident that they can interact without any danger to either pet.