Once you have a cat in the family, you may be tempted to get another one.
Maybe you want the cats to be accompanied by each other, or you want to help a cat that needs a new home.
Regardless of the reason for getting a second cat, you should be aware that cats are not herd animals and you can think a little before introducing a new kitten or adult cat to the family.
Are cats herd animals?
Cats are not herd animals like dogs, but in their natural state they prefer to live alone and are very dependent on having their own territory.
Some cats can therefore be very stressed if a new cat enters the family. Cats that grow up with one or more cats are used to having company, but a cat that is used to being alone in its territory does not always appreciate the company of another cat.
There are adult cats that can have a cozy and fun time with a friend, but often they divide the home into two territories. In the worst case, you may have cats fighting or starting to pee and poop outside the litter box to mark their territory.
Can you get a kitten when you already have a cat?
If you already have an adult cat and want another, it is best to get a kitten. The adult cat does not see the young cat as a competitor and there is a better chance that they will learn to live together without fighting. In addition, it often works better with a kitten of the opposite sex.
If you do not plan to do cat breeding, you should neuter the cats and then usually more of the problems related to competition disappear.
It is good to choose a cat breed or type of cat that has the same level of activity as the cat you already have. Then they are more likely to appreciate the same games and mischief. If you have a bored indoor cat, however, you rarely solve that problem by getting another cat.
It can rather be that you quickly have two bored indoor cats instead.
Do you have room for another cat?
It is not possible to force or train cats to like each other. It may be that the cats agree immediately and become besties, but there are also cats who will never accept each other.
The only thing you can do is try and be prepared to find solutions so that the cats can live side by side even if they are not together. For example, it is important to give both cats the opportunity to have a space where they can be left alone.
They must also be given the opportunity to avoid competition for food and gain access to a safe place to sleep. A prerequisite for success with this is to have several rooms where you can close the door or set up something that delimits the space. Read more about cat-securing the home.
Introducing a new kitten for cats
When introducing a new cat to the family, take it easy and carefully. Regardless of whether it is a kitten or an adult cat that is moving in, you need to get the cats used to each other gradually. You can let the new cat move into a room where the other cat is not so often.
By moving toys and beds between the rooms, you let the cats get to know each other’s scents before they really meet. You can also pat each cat without washing your hands in between so you mix the scents.
The first meeting, you can let the cats see each other through, for example, a net door before they meet nose to nose. It is also possible to take the help of a net cage or paddock. Choose a time when it is quiet at home and let the meeting take time. It can take a couple of days or even a week before the cats are calm in close proximity to each other and you can try to take the next step. You absolutely want to avoid hunting or fighting.
When can you let the cats meet face to face?
When it seems that the cats are calm even though they see each other, you can try to let them meet face to face.
Choose a space where they can hide behind furniture or jump on something. It can be easier to distract the cats with food and give them small treats to encourage the behavior you want to see in the cats.
You have to pay attention to the cats’ behavior and be quick to act if they show signs of aggression. If, for example, the older cat snarls at the kitten, you must be prepared to separate the cats again and go back in the introduction for a few more days.
Read more about adopting a cat from a cat home.