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Dealing with Multiple Cats

A topic that comes up frequently is how many cats, and how do they get along. In my experience, most cats prefer a live in companion. The number is not as important as the security of ‘another’ cat. From a cat’s point of view, I suppose it’s comforting to have someone else you speaks your language. Whenever I am having difficulty understanding what my cats are trying to tell me I try to put myself in their shoes, or paws, excuse me.

I hear stories all the time about cats that go into mourning when the other cat passes, or leaves for some reason. I can only conclude that there is or was a deep attachment, even if they did not apparently get along. By the same token, I know of cats that bond with dogs and other animals, though cat-to-cat is more common. There seem to be patterns of activities, and times of day that this bonding goes on. People have reported that while they are around there is one apparent relationship, but they see evidence of another type of relationship when the people are not around. Our presence may change the dynamic. After all, there is probably some competition for attention when more than one cat is part of the family.

Most people I know have more than one cat. Numbers vary according to space and finances, and just life style. It does seem preferable to have more than one cat however. In most cases cats learn to get along, and indeed enjoy the shared experience. After all, most homes are large enough that even though cats are territorial, there’s more than enough space to go around for a creature the size of a cat. This is particularly true if you work long hours, or travel frequently.

Sometimes people get two cats at the same time, and other times they find a second cat later on. Sometimes a cat comes to live with you along with a human. It really doesn’t matter. I am asked all the time if an established cat will accept a newcomer. It’s rare that a cat won’t accept another cat, if it is introduced slowly and with consideration for the resident cat. This is true no matter how long the ‘only’ cat has been entrenched. My sense it that people tend to feel disloyal to the existing cat and so decide that the cat who has been there will be hurt if they bring a new cat home. While there will be a period of adjustment, it usually doesn’t take long for the new cat to worm it’s way into the family. The two cats may not be buddies, or they might surprise you, but if you introduce slowly, isolating the new cat for a period of time, and transferring smells, it should work out. There is also no age rule on this introduction. An older cat will frequently liven up to the presence of a kitten. Some take on a parenting role, and show the new kitten how and where to behave.

I guess the best advice I can give is that in these matters, as in so many others, when dealing with cats, try to think more like a cat, and less like a human and the answers will become clearer. Just because you would be jealous if your husband brought home a playmate, don’t assume your cat will be. If you want a second or third cat and you can handle the responsibility that entails, then go for it. Be patient and let them get to know each other and all should be fine in time.

n the photos below, the cats in the drawer came home at different times, when one was already established. The two in the kitty bed were raised together as kittens. Both pairs are well bonded and quite attached to ea

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