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Two Cats Are Better Than One
Despite their reputations as aloof, unsocial, and loners, most cats will do better with a partner.
If you are thinking about getting a cat, or if you have a cat and wonder why it is misbehaving, the answer might be that two cats are better than one.
Find out why cats do better with a social group, ways to introduce one cat to another, and the answers to common concerns and questions.
Cats Are Social Animals
Just like their wild cousins, cats have a social order and hierarchy among each other, with their human companions and with other animals. According to Sarah Hartwell of The Messy Beast, it has only been in the past couple of decades that cats are beginning to be recognized for their social needs and abilities.
Cats learn by watching and imitating others. Some cat rescue groups have reported that even feral or semi-feral cats that are around other, more domesticated cats can learn how to behave and mimic. From there they can eventually calm down and become a more civilized pet.
Cats not only mimic one another, they establish relationships. Companion cats are known to groom each other, eat together and sleep together. They take comfort in the presence of the other cat and look for them when they are not together. They will even mourn the loss of their companion if it passes away before they do.
But one of the best reasons that two cats are better than one is that your cat will stay occupied, be less bored and less destructive if they have a friend to keep them company, to play with and to bond with.
This is especially true for young cats. I adopted a six month old Siamese mix. He was the only cat in the house at the time. Since both my husband and myself were working during the day, the cat very quickly got bored. He chewed on the blinds and scratched up the furniture.
A few months later we adopted a 1 year old adult tabby. The bad behavior stopped and they were lifelong buddies until the tabby passed away from cancer at the age of 13. At the time of this article the Siamese is still going strong at the age of 16. We have other cat companions for him too.
Common Questions and Concerns When Adopting More Than One Cat
Many pet owners or potential pet owners may have questions about adopting two cats or another one. Some are concerned about the process and whether or not their cat will adjust. Here are some of the common concerns, problems, questions and solutions to the issues.
- Do the cats need to be the same gender?
When getting a companion for your cat or two cats together, they do not have to be the same gender. Assuming that you are spaying or neutering (please!) then cats will form friendships with each other regardless of whether they are male or female. You can also adopt two cats from the same litter or a parent and kitten. These cats will very easily bond and their social hierarchy is likely already established.
Usually, within the social order, one is the dominant cat and one is the follower. With cats the cues may be more subtle, but one way to figure out who the dominant cat will be is to watch their behavior patterns. Does one cat get up and give the other it's sunny spot by the window? Does one cat tend to clean the other one? The one that is submissive is likely the subordinate.
This is not a bad thing, is not upsetting to either cat, and is important for the balance and harmony of the cat's social circle. Each time a new animal, especially a cat, is introduced to the household, that balance of power will have to be re-established. This is okay. Realize that it is all part of a multi-cat household.
- Do the cats need to be the same age?
It is not necessary to adopt two cats of the same age, While younger cats will likely make the adjustment and transition a bit faster, two cats of any age can get along, form bonds and learn from each other. An older cat can help to teach a kitten how to act. A kitten can bring out the playful side in a more sedate older cat.
You can even adopt two adult cats of varying ages. Cats of all ages work together in their social circles.
- If they fight or hiss at each other does this mean that it is a bad idea?
No. Not at all. As mentioned earlier, cats form hierarchies within their social circle. Hissing at each other and growling when there is a new member is actually a very normal part of their social process. Unlike dogs, cats do better with a slow introduction of a new companion.
- When bringing the new cat home, place it in another room away from the established cat.
- Bring a blanket or other item that the new animal has been on for the established cat to smell.
- Bring the new cat out for short periods of time in a crate or carrier. (Remember that hissing and growling is okay)
- After the hissing dies down, allow the new cat out, supervised, for short periods of time.
- Increase the time until the cats are no longer fighting.
This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It depends on the cats' ages and personalities. But all cats can be socialized to tolerate each other and most form deep and strong bonds.
Don't be surprised to come home one day and find one curled up with the other.
- Is it a lot more work to take care of two cats?
There really is not much more work to take care of two cats than one. There is some increased expense such as an extra yearly vet bill. But some vets give discounts if you have more than one pet (I know mine does) so be sure to ask.
Keep the litterbox scooped, fresh water and food and your two cats will be happy and healthy!