Choosing a Companion for Your Cat

cat_to_cat_introductions

I frequently get questions from readers who are looking to add a new cat to their family. How do I find a cat that will be a good match for my cat? Should I get a cat who’s the same age as my resident cat, or should I get a kitten? Male or female? Will the resident cat accept the newcomer?

Whether it’s a companion for a single cat, or whether another cat in the household has passed away and left a void, adding a new family member is a big decision.

I wish I could give you definitive answers to all of these questions, but the reality is that while you can do some homework, ultimately, each cat’s unique history and personality will determine the outcome.

Ideally, we’d all like our cats to be best buddies who play together, groom each other, and snuggle together. Some cats will bond like that, others will get along but may not ever become close friends, and some cats are confirmed only cats who will never accept a companion. While there is no guarantee that two cats will get along, there are things you can consider when adding a new cat to the family.

Age

A cat close in age to your resident cat may be a better match than one that’s much younger or much older. Young cats do better with a playmate close to their own age. They will get frustrated with a senior cat who prefers napping to playing.  Conversely, a senior cat may not appreciate a young cat or kitten disrupting her golden years.

A word of caution if you have an elderly cat who is ill: I do not recommend bringing another cat into the home until your resident cat has passed. The stress of a new addition to the family may aggravate your older cat’s condition, and could actually shorten his life.

Kitten or Adult

Kittens do better with other kittens or young cats in the household. They need to have an outlet for all that energy, and if they’re paired with an older cat, both cats may be very unhappy. This is the reason why many rescue groups adopt kittens only in pairs. Adult cats may do better with another adult close to them in age, or slightly younger.

Temperament

Consider your resident cat’s temperament. If you have a timid cat, she would probably do better with a laid back, calm, mellow cat. A dominant cat will most likely do better with a self-assured, calmer cat. If you’re fortunate enough to have one of those happy-go-lucky cats who love everyone, she will probably get along with a cat from either end of the personality spectrum.

Temperament and personality can be hard to detect if you meet a cat in a shelter. Most cats are stressed in that setting and won’t show their true personality until they’ve been in a new home for several weeks and sometimes even years.

Size

Size can make a difference, especially if you have a slightly dominant cat. The theory is that cats of similar size and build will accept each other more quickly. Try to choose a new cat who is the same size or slightly smaller than your resident cat.

Gender

Male (neutered) cats are generally believed to be more accepting of other cats, both male and female. Even though this has not been my experience, female cats may not get along as well with each other. I personally believe that gender, other than as a personal preference of the guardian, is the least important consideration when it comes to choosing a good match for your resident cat.

Of course, for many of us, a new cat just seems to find us. Or we fall in love with one on Petfinder, or at our local shelter. And even though on paper, the new cat may be a bad match, some of the best feline friendships arise out of these seemingly random meetings.

Regardless of how you choose your new feline companion, introduce the newcomer slowly. Proper cat to cat introductions will go a long way toward ensuring harmony in your home.

141 Comments on Choosing a Companion for Your Cat

  1. Melody
    December 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm (3 days ago)

    I have a female that has lost her brother, a year ago. She is 11 years old and has never been alone! She crys all the time. She looks like she’s search the whole house. I feel like we should get a new cat for her. What should I look for? She was always boss with him!

    Reply
  2. Ang
    November 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm (1 month ago)

    I had a 4 year old, Piper who was shy an anxious but very loving and becoming more confident every year, and a 2 year old, Kazi who is super happy go lucky and always been pipers support. Every time Piper would have an anxiety episode kazi would be there to comfort her, groom her, and then she would play with him when she was feeling energetic. The three of us moved around a bit when i was getting into grad school and lived with roommates that had both cats and dogs and kazi thrived with all the interactions, dog and cat alike. Now I live alone, Piper went outside afterdark and we haven’t seen her in a month. I did my best to find her, searching shelters, knocking on neighbors doors, posting to social media and she hasn’t turned up. Meanwhile, kazi has been grieving, meowing for her, searching for her, and becoming extremely clingy to me. Now, that we’re a month out his grieving has been getting better but i’ve noticed some changes in his attitude and confidence and am not sure if i should keep hoping Piper will come back, or if i should look into getting a second pet for kazi. He’s never been an only animal and I can’t tell if i should wait longer to see if he comes to enjoy it, or if he’s so social and nurturing it is worse for him to be on his own. thoughts? also thoughts on dog vs cat? He’s now about 2.5 years, does that change his likelihood of accepting another cat. All his previous housemate animals were when he was under 2 years old so still very curious and happy go lucky.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 10, 2016 at 5:30 pm (1 month ago)

      Oh Ang, I’m so sorry about Piper. There’s never a guarantee that a cat will accept another cat, regardless of age, although it sounds like Kazi is a pretty easy-going cat. I wish I could give you a yes or no answer, but ultimately, this is going to have to be your decision. If you do decide to add a new cat, introduce the newcomer slowly and gradually.

      Reply
  3. Esther
    October 25, 2016 at 8:56 am (2 months ago)

    Hi, desperate for some advice. Please help.
    I currently have two cats- an older spayed female calico (Dru) age 12 who is very solitary from other cats, but loving to us- she is also a VERY tough and resilient girl. She is a well-controlled diabetic. She is (and was always) an indoor cat.
    I also have a very friendly, sociable but (when outside), very terratorial neutered boy tabby aged 5. (Quinn). He is mainly indoors, but goes out for a few hours if we are home.
    We had an older cat (Deion) who passed away last June 2014, age 16. Quinn grieved for him terribly, (as did we all), as Deion and he were quite companionable, even if Deion didn’t always have time for Quinn.
    Dru, on the other hand, has no time for Quinn at all, and he seems to still be very lonely as she will not play with him. She tolerates him fine, just won’t play.
    I am in a quandry- do I get a kitten to keep Quinn company, so he leaves Dru in peace, and has a friend so he is less lonely? OR will this stress her out. Genuinely don’t know what to do to help both my babies. Thank you

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 25, 2016 at 9:19 am (2 months ago)

      I tend to think that kittens are not usually a good match for senior cats. Also, based on your description of Quinn, I’m not sure whether he would accept another cat. I wish I could be of more help – it’s a tough decision since there’s never a guarantee that any two cats will get along.

      Reply
      • Esther
        October 25, 2016 at 10:14 am (2 months ago)

        Thanks for coming back to me so quickly 🙂
        You think that as Q is quite alpha, he might hate another cat anyway? I just worry that at 5, and Dru at 12, he’s going to be on his own a long time after she passes (:() and it’ll be harder to introduce a new friend the older he gets?
        Conversely, I see from your posts that some cats are ok being alone. Much as she tolorates Quinn, I know Dru would be fine alone lol!

        Reply
  4. Began
    September 21, 2016 at 11:16 am (3 months ago)

    Hey, i have a 10 Months old Savannah Male (not fixed) he is very attractive and playful, but seeme lonely and i want to get a 2 Months old Bengal Female. Now im Afraid if my Male Savannah will try something with her while the Kitten Bengal Female is little..? Should i get a 2 months female (not fixed) Bengal while having a 10 months male (not fixed) Savannah
    ?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm (3 months ago)

      You need to neuter your male before even considering adopting another cat, especially an unspayed female.

      Reply
      • Began
        September 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm (3 months ago)

        Can i ask why? I do want kittens too

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          September 21, 2016 at 1:40 pm (3 months ago)

          There are thousands of homeless kittens in shelters across the country. I support adoption rather than breeding. Additionally, neutering and spaying has health benefits.

          Reply
      • Began
        September 21, 2016 at 2:18 pm (3 months ago)

        Can i ask why? I do want baby kittens i love cats, but is it because the female bengal is to young?

        Reply
  5. L Krause
    August 9, 2016 at 11:24 am (4 months ago)

    Hi there,

    I have a 7 month old Siamese male kitten who has a great personality. He is playful and sweet, he plays with my neighbors cats and does not mind sharing a litter box (I know because he ran into our neighbors house and used theirs!). The mom and dad of my 7 mo old male just had another litter and I want to take an 8 week old female. She is his biological sister but not from the same litter. I think he will be fine but i worry that maybe the girl will be a bit more territorial? We will be getting her fixed and I heard that can be traumatic for a female as it is a more invasive procedure than it is for males. Do you think she will be ok with her older brother?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 10, 2016 at 5:24 am (4 months ago)

      There’s no way to predict whether two cats will get along, and the fact that she is his biological sister won’t matter. Cats don’t “recognize” siblings, even from the same litter, once they’ve been separated. Your best bet is to do slow and gradual introductions.

      Reply

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