If you currently have a cat and are planning to add another to your family, there are several critical factors to consider and steps to take before you can bring your new feline companion home. Once you’ve thought things through and decided to adopt another cat, you’ll need to get a few things ready before your new baby arrives.
At the very minimum, your new cat will need a litter box, food, and water bowls. Remember to take a carrier with you to get your new love safely home. And if you’ve adopted a cat with special needs, make sure you’re set regarding prescription foods and any medications.
But before you get to that joyful moment of seeing your new cat explore their home for the first time, you’ll have to decide what kind of cat best suits your current cat’s needs. Below we’ll provide a step-by-step guide for selecting a great friend for your cat.
How To Choose Your Second Cat
1. Determine if Your Cat Needs a Companion
While you may want to adopt a stray cat you keep feeding, it might not be the best partner for your cat. Older cats who’ve never lived with other pets often become incredibly stressed by the presence of another animal in the house.
Adult cats are territorial, so your old cat may be unable to adjust to having another pet around. If your cat, on the other hand, is accustomed to living with a companion, adopting another cat may be just the thing.
Cats bond deeply with animals they spend lots of time around, even mourning the loss of close felines and canine companions. Make sure to wait until your cat has recovered emotionally before introducing a new companion.
2. Think About Your Cat’s Age
Cats are just like humans; they slow down as they age. If you’re considering adopting a cat, consider selecting one in the same age range as your current pet. Older pets often become annoyed with the nonstop antics of energetic kittens, creating a stressful environment for both cats.
And if your pet is mourning the loss of a beloved companion, the last thing they probably want to deal with is an inquisitive kitten. Senior pets can be happily paired with adult kitties, and adult cats often do well with kittens but avoid pairing a senior cat with a kitten to minimize the potential for conflict.
3. Consider Your Cat’s Health
Cats with health problems are often tired and in pain. Many don’t have the patience to deal with an active addition to the family. Cats suffering from arthritis or chronic conditions like kidney disease won’t be in the mood to play with rambunctious younger animals and, because they’re often in pain, may be just a bit more inclined to lash out.
If your cat has health issues that limit mobility or energy levels, consider adopting an older companion with a similar energy level. A cat with arthritis probably won’t appreciate having to move around to avoid the play bites of a well-meaning kitten.
4. Longhair or Shorthair
If you already have a shorthaired cat and are comfortable with the amount of grooming and vacuuming required, you might prefer to adopt another shorthaired or “hairless” cat. Longhaired cats require substantially more grooming than shorthaired kitties.
Most longhaired cats require daily brushing to avoid developing tangles and skin lesions. If a longhaired cat has access to the outdoors and lives in a temperate or cool climate, the cat will shed heavily at least twice a year. However, if your cat is a long-haired kitty, adding a second will make a slight difference when grooming and vacuuming pet hair.
5. How Much Space Do You Have?
Living in a tiny apartment doesn’t have to be an issue if you want to adopt a second kitty. But before you take the plunge, make 100% sure you have enough room for two of everything.
Sharing litter boxes and food bowls often leads to aggression between feline housemates. Don’t just eyeball your room and imagine where “things” might go. Create paper cutouts of your current cat’s food bowls, bed, and litter box, and ensure you have enough room in your space for everything to fit.
If there’s sufficient room for the essentials, but you’re still a bit tight on space, consider adopting an older, less active cat who’ll be happy spending hours watching the world go by from the high perch of a cat tree.
6. Male or Female
You don’t need to worry too much about sex if you adopt an adult cat. There are few, if any, sex-based behavioral differences between spayed female and neutered male cats. Factors such as age and general temperament are more important than gender when selecting a good buddy for your cat, with one exception. If you have a young adult male, consider adopting a female kitten to minimize territorial behavior.
Adult cats tend to be more accepting of kittens, and male cats often become territorial in the presence of other male cats.
7. What’s Your Cat’s Feline Leukemia Virus Status?
Suppose your current cat is feline leukemia virus (FeLV) positive. In that case, you’ll need to consider that when selecting a new pet, as current veterinary guidance suggests that FeLV-positive cats only live with other cats also carrying the virus. FeLV spreads through saliva and is easily transmitted between cats.
When active, the virus weakens the feline immune system, drastically increasing the risk of various diseases, including cancer. Many FeLV-positive cats and kittens are thriving worldwide, but potential adoptive families often pass over cats who test positive for the virus.
8. Indoor or Outdoor
If your cat is an indoor pet, you might lean towards adopting another cat accustomed to staying inside. Indoor cats tend to be healthier than outdoor cats as they don’t come into contact with infectious diseases like rabies and parasites like worms, fleas, and ticks.
Keeping your cat indoors and providing fun activities is critical to ensuring it lives a long, healthy life. But your indoor cat will lose many of the health benefits associated with staying inside if they regularly sleep next to an adventurous outdoor cat who comes into contact with dangerous viruses, bacteria, and parasites every day.
Adding a new pet to your family is a huge deal, and finding the right one can take a bit of time. Considering the characteristics you’re looking for in a second cat can go a long way toward ensuring the change doesn’t prove too stressful for anyone.
Keep your current cat’s background in mind when deciding whether or not to extend your family. Cats that have never really lived around other kitties may not appreciate the presence of another animal. But even if your cat has spent most of their life around other animals, there’s no guarantee they’ll accept a new housemate. Introduce the two slowly under supervision to reduce the chances of a conflict.
Featured Image Credit: AdinaVoicu, Pixabay