Deciding whether to get a cat is a big decision that requires plenty of careful consideration – and if you’re thinking of adding another into a home that already has one (or getting more than one), then there are even more things to deliberate.
All of the things you initially took into account – such as expense and your ability to care for them – are still vitally important, but this time around there is more than one pet to think about.
Petplan takes a look at the considerations of having two (or more) cats in your home…
What to consider if you are thinking of getting more than one cat
Despite their reputation as solitary animals, there are plenty of people who believe the companionship of another cat can be extremely beneficial to our feline friends.
However, there is not a general consensus as to whether multiple-cat households are a good thing.
As mentioned above, cats are generally solitary creatures and are not as adept at communicating with their own kind as many other animals – this means that when there is conflict, fighting is likely to occur.
If there is more than one cat in a relatively confined space – such as a city flat – then space is also an important consideration.
Cats need their own space and, if they are unable to get it within their home environment, then they may develop stress-related illnesses or behaviours such as urine spraying, over-grooming or idiopathic cystitis.
Also, if you live in an urban environment then there can be large amounts of cats within your neighbourhood.
Speaking to the Radio Times, animal behaviour expert, Dr Sarah Ellis, said: "Sadly there are a lot of disputes going on due to the high density of cats.
"We love cats therefore we’re not content with one – we want two or three or four and if our neighbour feels the same and his neighbour feels the same, we suddenly have a huge problem.”
Multi-cat households can be a success under the right circumstances though.
Siblings that have been raised together often make the best pairings, while making sure that both cats have access to their own resources is also vital.
You will have to provide one of everything for each cat – don’t expect them to share food bowls or scratching posts because cats are generally territorial and can have difficulty sharing.
Top Tips for introducing a new cat to your household
If you have assessed your own cat’s temperament and decided that they would benefit from some feline companionship, then there are some simple steps to take when introducing them:
- Don’t mix them straightaway. Keep your new cat in a separate room and let them get used to each other’s scent (stroking each cat separately without washing your hands is a good way of helping the process along).
- At this stage, it’s vital that you spend the same amount of time with each cat to ensure that both feel they are getting the care and attention they need.
- When they are both more settled, let the new cat roam the rest of the house without your current cat there to get comfortable.
- When they are settled, then introduce them to each other. Make sure you are present and that you distract them as much as possible using food or toys. They will use this time to assess each other and, if they do fight, separate them with a cushion or sheet so as not to hurt yourself.
- Gradually increase the amount of time that your cats spend together, allowing your cats to get used to each other’s company over a prolonged period of time.
- Even after they have been successfully introduced, make sure you initially separate them during the night time. You can’t be there to supervise them if any fights occur and it will give them some time to relax away from their new companion.
- Continue to give your cats reassurance and allow them both to have their own space. As well as giving them one of everything, make sure their litter trays are in separate rooms and that they have plenty of places to hide from each other around the house.
Do you have a home full of cats? What are your top tips for making a happy home? Let us know your story using the tag #PethoodStories