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When Two is Better than One

While we may pride ourselves on how we pamper our animals with the best of everything, we may be denying them what they need most, the companionship of one of their own species. Most feline behaviorists agree that cats generally lead healthier, happier lives if there is another feline in the household. Even if the cats never become bosom buddies, just sharing the house with another living creature while you are away helps to break the monotony and loneliness. Of course, if they become playmates, there is the added benefit of exercise and entertainment that is especially needed by kittens and young adult cats. Many cases of playful aggression directed toward the guardian as well as various forms of household destruction can be prevented if the cat's energies are focused on a playmate. Young males (3-24 months) have an especially strong need for a "buddy". While guardians of rambunctious young males often hesitate to take on another cat, those who take that "leap of faith" and get another young male are generally delighted to see how much the "boys" enjoy each other.

Choose the Companion for Your Companion Carefully

When selecting a feline companion for your resident cat, keep your cat's personality and activity level in mind. If you are too casual about this important decision, your house may become a war zone. Consider the following guidelines when choosing your next family member. Remember that they are only guidelines and that there may be exceptions to the rules.

  •  If you have an adult female who has been an "only" cat for some time, it is best to get a younger female. Males, even friendly ones, can over-power and frighten females. Male kittens, while more easily dominated by the female, still grow up to be rambunctious teenagers and engage in a style of play that involves pounce and wrestle (not a female's idea of fun).
  • If a young, active male is your family companion animal, he would really enjoy having a male buddy who shares his enthusiasm for vigorous play.
  •  A laid-back, older (neutered) male cat may enjoy "mothering" a kitten - male or female. They usually make better mothering substitutes than spayed females. Females, in general, are less accepting of newcomers.

Males tend to bond with each other, unless both have dominant personalities. A dominant cat engages in a lot of rubbing - scent marking - behavior, likes to rest in high places (for surveillance purposes) and in doorways (to control the entrance to certain rooms) and shows little or no fear.

If you would like to work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.