Two Cats Better Than One?
by Darcy Lockman
When advertising copywriter Angie Dunne brought her
two kittens home from the shelter last year, she
already knew they got along. "The
people at the animal shelter told me they really gravitated toward each
other, that they played together all the time," says Dunne. "I'd
actually planned on adopting only one cat, but I was convinced that they
shouldn't be separated. Now I couldn't imagine one without the other."
Adopting two cats, or bringing a second
kitty into a one-feline home, isn't always
easy. Los Angeles-based cat behaviorist
Marva Marrow says, "Knowing
how to choose a ‘pet' for your cat will give the best odds for
avoiding personality conflicts, which often show up as behavior problems,
like litter box avoidance, spraying or marking, aggression and other
unwanted behaviors." Below, Marrow advises how to make a good cat
match -- and when not to try.
Simple, says Marrow. "When they're well-matched, it's good for cats
to have companionship." Two cats can play together, satisfying their
need for physical and emotional interaction. According to the Humane
Society, multi-cat household felines tend to be happier and less likely
to get in trouble. They can also groom each other, keeping clean the
places one cat can't reach alone.
Choose cats or kittens with physiques and body types that mirror that
of the feline already sharing your home. "Cats with similar body
types have comparable activity levels, and so they complement each other," says
Marrow. For example, a good partner for a Siamese would be another "slinky" cat.
Don't adopt two female cats. If you already have one girl at home, don't
get a second. "I hate to say it, but females are usually the ones
who have problems with each other," admits Marrow. "Two males
get along fine, as do males and females."
Make a list of your cat's personality traits. Is your furry friend shy
or social? Clingy or aloof? "Like people, cats get along better
with other cats whose temperaments match their own," says Marrow.
She suggests taking your list to the shelter, and asking the employees
to find the best match for your kitty.
When Two Cats Begin Sharing Your Home
When cats first cohabitate, they need to be introduced gradually and
under strict supervision. The cats cannot have any access to each other
when you're not home. Marrow suggests longer and longer supervised periods
of exposure filled with toys and treats to keep everybody happy. The
timeline for this supervised interaction is around one month, though
it may vary with different cat pairs. "You need to help them adjust
slowly, so no one gets stressed," says Marrow.
When One Is Enough
Cats need space to hide when they desire alone time, so if you don't
have much, one feline may be all you can handle. Your home should allow
for the newly introduced cats to be separated -- at least for the first
month -- when you are not home to supervise. Finally, your home should
have room for a minimum of one litter box for each cat (ideally, one
for each cat plus one extra).
Two final considerations are the age and health of the resident cat.
The stress of bringing another pet into the home could potentially shorten
the life of an elderly cat or a cat with serious health issues.
With the right pairing and introduction, two cats living together may
ultimately lead more satisfying, enjoyable lives than do "single" felines.
But remember, stresses Marrow, "Not all cats like all cats. You
can't just slap two together and expect them to get along." But
with the above criteria, "you and your cats can have the best chance
About the Author: Darcy Lockman is a freelance writer whose work has
appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone. She lives in Brooklyn,
with the prettiest pug dog in the five boroughs.