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Monday, April 19, 2010

should I get a second cat? my experience

I got my second cat Sayang when I had kept Slinky for a while. Slinky was already an adult cat when I adopted her, and it had been wonderful having her fluffy companionship. Frustrating at times because Slinky hates hugs, doesn't purr, and scratches us. We had just got to know Aswat at the time, and he told us that if we got a kitten as a second cat, it would go over well with Slinky as compared to adopting another adult. Eventually we took his advice and I brought Sayang home the minute I saw her alone in a pen at Angels, sick.

The kind of cat Slinky is is not uncommon. Many cat owners with one cat say their cat is anti-social, likes to be alone, doesn't get out much, is already an adult. This kind of cat probably likes to lie around, sleep through the day, perhaps play a bit or not at all. Oh, and hates grooming. Sounds like your only cat?

Well, our integration of Sayang with Slinky turned out well. Granted, they are not best of friends - Sayang prefers us humans to anyone in the house, loves Scooter the youngest out of responsibility. We have witnessed them grooming each other before but it is not common, Slinky doesn't really enjoy mutual grooming. They definitely don't sleep together or play together. Slinky's favourite exercise is streaking around the house like a mad cat, Sayang prefers other play-activities.

But having the second (and third cat) in the house definitely provided interest to Slinky's life. She enjoys watching the other two play. Watching, instead of getting in the action, is a British Shorthair characteristic, as is mad streaking (and crazy sleeping positions). They enjoy watching.

We coped with Slinky's unwillingness to share toilets with the new cats by setting up her own. Slinky is a fussy cat when it comes to her toilet. She didn't mind sharing with Sayang, but Scooter was a no-no for her. So we adapted.

In fact, I think Slinky is happier for it when the other cats arrived. We stopped needing her for hugs, which she totally loathes. I give her the attention she wants instead of forcing my own on her - she enjoys a good behind-the-ear scratch but that's it. Oh and being fed, she never says no to that.

I think we might have been a bit too late in adopting the second, but it still worked out. Sayang was about 3-4 months old when we adopted her - not too crazy for Slinky as opposed to the very young under 2 months old kitten.

In short, should you get a second cat? If you can cope with the extra costs (food-wise, not as much since you can buy bigger quantities for lower prices) in terms of veterinary care and sterilisation and the extra attention, the answer is yes. Just take note of these pointers.

  • Think of your cat's personality type - is she the playful type or the lounge-around type? Don't get a second cat that clashes too much in their personalities. For example, getting a super playful kitten to accompany your rather-lounge-around cat is probably not the best idea. Get an older kitten that is more independent just like your own cat.
  • Your cat will still view older kittens as a non-threat. Only adults, especially unsterilised ones, will be considered threats. Any kitten under six months of age are considered safe to adult cats.
  • Be prepared to set up a new litter tray in case they don't want to share.
  • Supervise the first interactions. They will hiss and spit first, then make friends later. When the hissing and slapping stage is over you can allow them to interact on their own.
  • If they do end up playing together, it will look violent, but their claws will be sheathed, and that is how they bond.
  • It is easier when your cat is not that old yet, the older he gets, the less likely he will start playing like crazy with a new kitten companion.
Just be warned, most never stop at two... But giving a new cat a new lease of life off the streets and away from the needle, in your own home, is rewarding. That and it will definitely add to your life and your cat's. Your second cat may never become best of friends and fall in love with each other, cats are guarded that way, you need to be prepared for that. But at least you know that you have done an amazing thing by opening your home to another cat.

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