Getting a second cat

Adding a second cat to the family?

If 1 cat is wonderful, then 2 cats would be purr-fect, right? Not necessarily.

This article is a great first resource for those that have never introduced a second cat to their family.

getting a second cat

Adding a new cat is a big decision

Whether you are looking to fill the void of a pet that is no longer with you or find a companion for your single cat, adding a second cat to your family is a big decision. 

Although cats are independent animals, many homes have successfully added second cats to their families. However, it is important that you realize that it may be a very long time before the two cats begin to like one another.

Some cats that are adopted siblings may bond and become lifelong companions, others may learn to tolerate one another, while never becoming close, and there are plenty of instances where the original and new cat never become companions.

While there is no guarantee that your cats will love or like one another, there are things that you should consider when adding a second cat.

Because of changes like marriage, getting a roommate and relocations, some families have no choice but to introduce a new cat to the family. Even when you know both cats, there is really no way of knowing how they will get along until they are together.

adding a second cat

Choosing a second cat

Sometimes getting a kitten is easier than 2 adult cats.

Sometimes getting a kitten is easier than 2 adult cats.

Age and temperament are far more important than color or gender when choosing a second cat.

Age and temperament are far more important than color or gender when choosing a second cat.

Cats are not pack animals and they are very territorial; so put real effort into trying to choose a compatible second cat in order to have the most success possible with your new addition.  

Age - its not just a number

You should match cats that are similar in age. Both cats will be unhappy if young cats don't have an outlet for all of their energy.

If you are living with a senior cat, bringing home an energetic and playful kitten will more than likely be an unwelcome nuisance.

Matching personalities

Take into account the personality of both the original cat and the new cat. If you meet your new cat in a shelter, it can be difficult to see the cat's actual personality because of stress. A cat adopted from a shelter may not show their true personality for weeks or months after adapting to their new home.

Is your resident cat shy? Avoid a new cat that is dominant and may bully your cat and force him to hide.

Do you have a dominant cat? Look for a cat that is self-confident and calm.

Is your cat easy-going and somewhere in the middle? You may be able to consider cats with a wide variety of personalities. 

Cats take a minimum of 3 weeks to get things together as far as introductions go. They can smell each other through the doors, but they should not be allowed to directly interact. Make sure they have all their own space and separate litter boxes
— Dr. Robert Sidorsky, Mobile Vet of Western Mass
For the greatest success, don't rush cat to cat introductions

For the greatest success, don't rush cat to cat introductions

Adding your new cat to your family

Recently, we spoke with Dr. Robert Sidorsky of the Mobile Vet of Western Mass. Dr. Sidorsky has been practicing veterinary medicine in the Pioneer Valley for more than 25 years. He had some insightful suggestions for those who may be considering a second cat.

Dr. Sidorsky says that the stress of being moved into a new environment can lead to feline stress, which affects the immune system and can cause illnesses to flare up such as FIV and Leukemia. If you are adopting your pet from the shelter, Dr. Sidorsky recommends that you quarantine your new cat for at least the first two weeks. The reason for this is that your cat could have been exposed to a virus on their last day at the shelter and you may have no way of knowing. The cats should not share any dishes and you should wash your hands well after interaction with the new cat. This is one layer of reducing risks to your resident cat.

Happy cat families are each unique. Some have single cats and some are multi-cat families.

Do you have a success story in cat introductions? We would love to hear from you. Please share your story in the comments below.

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