Although cats hunt alone, that does not mean they want to live alone. Some people mistakenly assume cats are loners and that they prefer to keep their own company and not socialize with other felines. Because of this, many cats are destined to live alone, without the benefits that come from socializing with their own species. Most are social and enjoy the company of other cats, especially bonded pairs. And, cats who don’t initially know each other often become best buddies after they are gradually introduced. Others enjoy each other’s company by simply hanging out together in the same room. Here’s what to know about having two cats — or more!
Often cats are left alone for hours every day with very little mental or physical stimulation while their favorite people work long hours. Singletons can become bored and morph into couch potatoes, become depressed or develop troublesome behaviors. Having two cats or more keeps them all entertained — playing, cuddling and sometimes just sharing a room together.
Kittens, by design, are little energy machines. Everyone and every item in their world becomes a target for stalking, pouncing and play. It is impossible for people to become full-time playmates for these little ones. A built-in perfect solution is adopting more than one kitten — they keep each other occupied and entertained.
In addition to keeping busy, youngsters learn valuable life lessons when they play with each other. Playing teaches social and hunting skills, and it helps the youngsters understand and define boundaries. Simultaneously, playing with each other builds muscles and helps develop coordination.
And, watching kittens play together is a never-ending source of entertainment for all the members of the household.
Adopting two cats who are buddies or introducing a potential friend to a resident kitty saves lives. Every time a cat is adopted from a shelter, a new cat takes the adopted one’s place, eager for a new home. Adopting cats makes room for more.
Ideally, adopt two cats from the same litter who enjoy each other’s company. Because they have known each other their whole lives they usually settle into their new home without squabbling.
It is less stressful to adopt two cats who are already best buddies than to integrate an unfamiliar cat with the resident cat. One of the upsides to adopting bonded friends is that they usually transition to their new home faster, with minimum anxiety. Never separate a bonded pair from each other — they will often grieve. It is heartbreaking to watch cats grieve for their best friends.
As a general rule, it is easier to integrate kittens together than adults. Because cats are by nature territorial, it takes time for them to accept an unfamiliar kitty into their homes. Always keep cats who do not know each other separated and gradually introduce them. Most will successfully integrate with each other after slow, careful introductions. It can take one month and longer to introduce cats to each other with a minimum of stress.
It usually works best to introduce two cats to each other who are around the same age and have the same energy levels. Bringing home a young kitten to keep an older adult cat company often leads to problems. The kitten wants a buddy to incessantly play with, while the older cat would rather quietly nap by the window.
Know your cats — an active cat may not be a good match for one who is laid back.
Having two cats or more isn’t always going to work out. Not all cats enjoy living with their own species. Some adult cats who have spent their whole lives as only cats do not adjust to living with other felines. They need to be the Kings and Queens of their households and should not be forced to share their homes and favorite people with another feline. Introducing another feline to them can end badly — stressing everyone, cats and people.
Others, when gradually introduced to newcomers, will accept new cats as part of their households. What do you think about having two cats or more? How many cats do you have?
Thumbnail: Photography ©Andrew_Deer | Getty Images.
This piece was originally published in 2014.
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Got a cat behavior question for Marilyn? Ask our behaviorist in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. If you suspect a behavioral problem, always rule out any possible medical issues that may be causing the behavior by first having your cat examined by a veterinarian. Marilyn can also help you resolve cat behavior challenges through a consultation.
Marilyn, a certified cat behavior consultant, owner of The Cat Coach, LLC, solves cat behavior problems nationally and internationally through on site, Skype and phone consultations. She uses force free methods that include environmental changes, management, clicker training and other behavior modification techniques.
She is also an award winning author. Her book Naughty No More! focuses on solving cat behavior problems through clicker training and other force-free methods. Marilyn is big on education — she feels it is important for cat parents to know the reasons behind their cat’s behaviors. She is a frequent guest on television and radio, answering cat behavior questions and helping people understand their cats.