Having More Than One Cat

I’ve always thought cats are kind of like potato chips… who can have just one?! Statistics even prove the point. While a higher percentage of American homes have dogs, there’s a larger total number of pet cats, so homes with cats are more likely to have more than one cat (with an average of 2.1 cats per household). Of course, that means the old stereotype of the “loner” cat is really just that: a stereotype. In fact, many cats prefer living with other feline friends. So why should you consider having more than one cat instead of a single cat? There are many reasons, but the most important one may be that it makes your kitties happy, and this is, after all, Happy Cat Month!

Two kittens

Zeke and Tobi, also known as The Destructo Twins, are littermates and best friends forever.

There are a number of benefits in having more than one cat. Single cats often spend long hours alone while you’re away at work everyday. All that alone time can make kitty bored, depressed, and/or destructive. Giving kitty a well-matched friend is a great way to alleviate those issues. Whether they’re playing, napping together, or just sharing space, a second cat has an almost magical way of defusing single-kitty problem behaviors simply by being there. If you have a kitten, then you know that kittens are fur-covered balls of energetic destruction, particularly when they have no playmates to keep their attention. Having two kittens means they can play with each other, learn from each other and provide hours of entertainment for us. In fact, when kittens play together, they teach each other valuable skills in hunting, stalking, climbing, using their claws, and more. In short, kittens socialize each other! This is why it’s a great idea to always adopt kittens in pairs. Not only have you saved two lives instead of just one, you also have given your kitties friends for life.

The best way to make sure that you and your kitties reap the rewards of kitty friendship in a multi-cat home is to adopt in pairs. Whether that means two kittens (littermates or similarly aged younglings) or two pair-bonded adults, the choice is yours. Just remember, it’s much easier to introduce a pair of kitties to their new home than it is to add a kitty later on when the first one starts to show signs of loneliness or less than desirable behavior. Of course, things don’t always go as planned, so if you find yourself introducing new adult kitties to one another, there are some basic rules to remember.

First, when introducing adult cats, it’s best to try to match personalities and energy levels. While it may seem like a good idea to get a high energy companion for your couch potato kitty, it’s actually likely to result in an irritable couch potato and a lonely energetic kitty. Second, introductions should be done SLOWLY. Throwing two cats in a room together and expecting them to “work it out” almost never results in friendship.  There are a number of excellent guides — this one from the ASPCA is especially good – and emphasizes the need to let the cats gradually become accustomed to one another. It can, really, take weeks or months for cats to get used to each other!

Snuggly cats.

Zeke has decided Captain needs his ear cleaned. Captain was introduced as a neutered, adult male foster kitty. It seems he and the others liked what they saw during introductions, because he ever left!

The final key to keeping the peace in a home with more than one cat is to make sure your cats’ environment is set up properly. The most important part of this is resources: food, water, litter. Make sure you have multiple food and water stations set up so no one feels crowded or intimidated while eating. Additionally, the rule of thumb for litter boxes is to have one for each cat plus an extra. The really important part of the litter box set up is that they shouldn’t all be together. Cats look at that as one large box with weird internal walls that get in the way of things. Since some cats simply won’t share litter boxes with other cats, making sure there are enough boxes prevents both confrontations as well as undesirable behaviors like peeing outside the box. Finally, it’s important to remember the enrichment areas and items – plenty of scratching posts, places for each cat to get away from it all (including you or the other cats), and lots of toys. Cats that don’t feel over-crowded by others are far more likely to accept their new furry housemates as friends.

The bottom line of having a happy multi-cat home is this: know your cat’s personalit(ies) and don’t have more than you can afford and care for! It is entirely possible to have a happy house with more than one cat (I have six!), but the cats have to be suited to it, and you have to be willing to go the extra mile for them. For more information on how to have a successful multi-cat home, contact us!

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