Adding an additional cat to your home

It is so difficult to be able to predict whether a cat will accept another into its household. It has been shown that some cats prefer a more solitary existence whereas others prefer a colony. Cats, as a species, have become more socially flexible during the process of domestication to an extent, but individuals still vary hugely in how accepting they are of other cats. Furthermore, their ability to change their sociability is limited once they reach adulthood.

In unowned, free-ranging cats, groups of cats tend to comprise related females and their offspring. Cats who are related to each other tend to be friendlier to each other than those who are not. However, to date, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether the gender of the cat has an influence over its ability to get along with other cats when the cats are neutered.

Unless your cat is used for breeding, all cats should be neutered to prevent litters of unwanted kittens. Furthermore, neutered cats are much more likely to get along with each other because there are no circulating sexual hormones. In males, such hormones can cause competition between cats and increase territory defence.

It should go without saying but it is generally not a good time to get another cat if your current cat is unwell.

Generally, the younger the cat, the more likely it may be to accept another cat into its household.

It is true that a cat can learn to fear cats from just one negative experience. Negative experiences have very powerful effects on learning and memory. Thus, it is important to know if any of the cats have previously had any negative altercations with other cats and how this may have changed how the cat now behaves around other cats.

Is your home and lifestyle suitable for another cat?

Cats resources (resting and sleeping places, toileting facilities, food bowls, water bowls, toys and scratching places) are critically important to a cat and the type, number and distribution can greatly influence how a cat feels. Cats that do not consider themselves part of the same social group will find it stressful to share resources. It is important to recognise that just because cats share a household, does not necessarily mean they view themselves as part of the same social group. Therefore, when introducing new cat(s), it is vitally important they have their own resources. If you answer “No” to any of the following questions, then the likelihood of your cat(s) coping with a new cat(s) is diminished. The more “No’s”, the less likely your current cat(s) will learn that the new cat(s) is not a threat.

Do I:

  • have the time and resources to introduce them properly, e.g., can I provide a room dedicated entirely to the new cat for the initial introduction period?

Can I:

  • provide as many of each resource as there will be cats in the household?
  • distribute each resource throughout the house, ensuring each one is separated from the others?
  • ensure resources are placed so that one cat cannot block another’s entry or exit to that resource?
  • give each cat individual attention in a form it enjoys (eg, play, stroking, grooming)?