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.

176 Comments on Choosing a Companion for Your Cat

  1. Skie
    August 7, 2018 at 9:23 pm (3 months ago)

    So my friend had a litter of kittens when her cat mated with a cat outside. Well I watched my cat grow and my friend asked if I could take her of course I said yes. My cat is my love she only bonds with me but she hates people for some reason. Well she’s picky very picky. She’s an attacker but that’s how my cat and I play she’s the love of my life. It’s been a year and 2 months. Then my family brought in a male cat who is 4 months today in the house. I just don’t feel like my cat is going to like this cat. My cat loves our dog but the new cat hisses so much at our dog. I to be honest don’t know what to do cause I don’t want to stress my love!

    Reply
  2. Brittany
    January 24, 2018 at 10:03 pm (10 months ago)

    Hello, I rescued a 7 week old Russian blue kitten, we found her in the bumper of someone’s car. she is now 1.5 y/o. She is very affectionate with me though she does bite sometimes when she doesn’t want to be pet. She is very shy around new people until she gets to know them, but even then remains pretty reserved. I am looking to add another kitten to our home and I am unsure if this is a good idea, or what kind of kitten I should choose (breed/gender/etc.) what do you think?

    Reply
    • Teresa
      July 29, 2018 at 9:31 am (4 months ago)

      I have got 2 famles and 1 male have are all kittens and trying to get them on 1 famle and the male is slowly getting on but the other one not

      Reply
  3. Lillian
    October 23, 2017 at 5:13 pm (1 year ago)

    My 3 year old female maine coon has always been semi-dominant and sometimes bites me and other people in the house, but never her doctors or anyone outside of the house. She was in a shelter briefly and she worked well with other cats. I am thinking of getting another cat, do you know what would be the best match for her?

    Reply
    • Jessica
      November 16, 2017 at 11:18 am (12 months ago)

      Similar situation here, but she is almost 12 years old. She’s never been around other cats, so I’m not sure how she’ll do. She’s Maine Coon, too.

      Reply
  4. Julie
    September 14, 2017 at 9:20 am (1 year ago)

    I have a 7 yr old male laid back cat and added a (now 2) year old female last year. She is playful. Him not so much. We are now thinking of getting a kitten but are worried about them getting along. Would like one that is playful so our female can play with it. Not sure if male or female would be better.

    Reply
  5. Andrew
    September 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm (1 year ago)

    I have a 4 yr old Bengal. He was used for breading and has not had much in the way of affection. He is not a nervouse cat except when it comes to people. I have had him for ten months and he still will not let me get close to him. I talk softly to him all the time and give him cat-smiles and he gives me a very BIG loving smiles back, but runs away if I try to approach him, If I try to play with him he runs off too. I was wondering about getting him a companion, another cat, a rabbit, dog, I don’t care what it is (so long as I can look after it) just so long as he has a friend.

    Any thoughts or ideas?
    Andrew

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 6, 2017 at 5:44 am (1 year ago)

      I think it could go either way, Andrew. A companion might help your boy come out of his shell, but might also make him withdraw even more – unfortunately it’s impossible to tell.

      Reply
    • Doly
      October 3, 2017 at 3:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Why don’t you try fostering. That way you have the change to see them interact after making proper introductions and hopefully find a cat that gets along with yours.

      Reply
  6. Cloe
    August 30, 2017 at 5:37 pm (1 year ago)

    Our current 8yr old cat adopted brother passed away, we’ve been giving her loads of attention but she still acts like that’s not enough. I know cats can get depressed and even mourn. She’s asking to eat all the time. She was the 2ed cat that we added 8years ago and he helped bring her out of her shell she is overly friendly and loved most that come in our home she’s even babies our bunny rabbit and 2 dogs, she has a house full of 4legged friends but we are thinking of maybe adopting another cat. Each time we’ve added an animal they get along harmoniously, I’m not sure if we should wait it out and let her mourn and maybe fish her going back in to a shy she’ll like she was 8yrs ago or adopt and let everybody adjust to a newcomer and hopefully live happily together.

    Reply
  7. Kerry
    July 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm (1 year ago)

    I have a 7 year old male Mainecoon mix that we are wanting to get a playmate for. We found him as a kitten 8 weeks old. He is still pretty playful and I think he naps more because he is bored. He is pretty social and just kind of chill. We think he would do well with a companion. We have been looking for a kitten. Do you think he is too old for a kitten? what about in the 6 month or so range? What age would you recommend? We are so fond of him and don’t want to screw this up.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 10, 2017 at 5:19 am (1 year ago)

      A kitten is going to have a lot of energy, so it depends on whether you think your guy can handle that. Otherwise, a companion closer to him in age and temperament might be a better fit.

      Reply
  8. Veronica
    July 7, 2017 at 12:46 am (1 year ago)

    Hi, I am considering adopting a kitten coming Saturday. I adopted my current cat last year and he is 1.5 years old now. (A boy). He is not shy, he follows us around all the times, not a lap cat though. But he never contacted with other cats after we adopted him. I am so worry about he won’t get along with the new kitten, should I take him to the shelter to pick a kitten? or I just have to choose a friendly one and hope for the best? Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 7, 2017 at 5:29 am (1 year ago)

      Taking your current cat to the shelter to pick a kitten is not a good idea, Veronica. It would be terribly stressful for him. Pick a kitten that matches his personality, and introduce the newcomer very slowly and gradually for your best chance of a harmonious relationship.

      Reply
  9. Linsey
    July 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m thinking of getting my five year old Maine coon a playmate! My boyfriend and I are at work all the time and he is lonely. Any key pointers anyone?

    Reply
    • Kerry
      November 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm (12 months ago)

      I have a 7 year old mainecoon and ended up adopting a kitten. I believe it was a mistake because even though he is pretty playful at his age, the kitten has way too much energy and is constantly harassing him (wanting to play and wrestle). He will play chase sometimes but then just wants to chill out and she won’t let him. I feel really bad about it because now he goes in other parts of the house to stay away from her which means I get to spend less time with him. I suggest getting a cat closer in age and temperament.

      Reply
      • Michele
        June 14, 2018 at 3:23 am (5 months ago)

        Kerry this is EXACTLY what happened to my 6 year old kitty too. My roomy found an abandoned kitten at work, took him to the shelter and then they neutered tested him and she went n adopted him. Problem is exact same. Kitten has too much energy and runs my tyler down constantly. It’s also made my older cat withdrawn from us and he was very loving cuddly my very best bud….its been extremely emotional to see that change in him and if I’d known I’d never okayed it. I want to return the kitten to the shelter but she doesn’t. So what I’d like to know is have things gotten better with your situation? ? I miss my older laid back guy. Please anyone reading this think twice about bringing home a kitten as a companion for a kitty over 4. I feel like it’s a mismatch 🙁 not the kittens fault he’s being a kitten but i hate to see my boy being tormented all day long. He plays back sometimes but he’s also wanting to chill and kitty won’t let him. I don’t know what to do.

        Reply
        • Kerry
          June 15, 2018 at 7:37 pm (5 months ago)

          Michele, luckily we had to technically considered a foster prior to adopting because she wasn’t spayed. That was a blessing in disguise because when I took her to get her spayed I told them I wasn’t ready to adopt because not a good fit for my boy. I gave it about another month and it got worse. I took her back to the rescue and paid for her adoption fee for someone else to adopt her from the rescue. I know that sounds awful to some but I don’t care. My boy is my heart and he was so depressed and was hiding under the bed all day. It was awful. I started to resent this kitten so what was the point? When I took her back She was adopted within 2 weeks. I made sure to take her back while still a kitten and cute adoptable. We waited for quite awhile and ended up adopting an older cat Mainecoon mix about 1 year old and it is a world of difference. Same temperament. They are not best buds but they definitely are comfortable around each other and sit and sleep around me and my husband all the time. I’m sorry you are going through that. I hope it gets better. Have you talked to your roommate about how it is affecting you and your own cat? Maybe they have a family member that can take it. Best of luck

          Reply
      • Wesley Hodge
        July 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm (4 months ago)

        Hi,

        I feel the exact same way; we have a 4 1/2 y/o female flame point Himalayan, she’s very laid back and affectionate, loves attention and sitting/laying with us; about 5 weeks ago we adopted a rescue kitten from an animal shelter, another female who’s full of energy and wants to run and play constantly. I feel really horrible now because Cali chases Sasha all the time, jumps on her and wants to wrestle; the only peace she gets is at night I keep the kitten shut up in the bathroom downstairs, so she can have free run if the house and not be harassed. Part of me feels guilty and part of me keeps hoping it’s phase and things will get better..

        Reply
  10. Hayley
    May 12, 2017 at 5:30 am (2 years ago)

    I have a cat who is about 8 years old, she’s very lazy at times but also loves to play at times too. She has gained an awful lot of weight, and sleeps most of the time. She occasionally loves affection but also doesn’t mind when she’s on her own. She is friendly but only to people she knows and likes. I’m thinking of getting a kitten but I’m worried that my cat will get jealous, or won’t like the new addition. Should I get a kitten or get one that’s a little older? Or maybe just enjoy having the cat I own now?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 12, 2017 at 5:42 am (2 years ago)

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict whether a cat will accept a companion. Hayley. If you decide to move forward, I’d pick a cat that matches your cat’s personality. A kitten may be too high energy for an 8-year-old quiet cat. Make sure you introduce the newcomer slowly and gradually for the best chance of a harmonious integration into your household.

      Reply
      • Hayley
        May 12, 2017 at 6:49 am (2 years ago)

        Thank you for your advice 🙂 and response so quickly. I’ll keep in mind with what you said.

        Reply
  11. Azta
    February 7, 2017 at 5:13 am (2 years ago)

    I’m getting a kitten next summer for my 5 year old cat (he turns 5 in summer). He is really social and needs a friend because I don’t have that much time to play with him anymore. I hope 5 years isn’t too old, to get a kitten?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 7, 2017 at 6:21 am (2 years ago)

      It really depends more on the cats’ personalities than their ages as to whether they’ll get along, Azta.

      Reply
    • Esther Fletcher
      February 7, 2017 at 7:12 am (2 years ago)

      My cat is 5 and I recently got a kitten to keep him company after my beloved Dru passed away unexpectedly age 12.
      He loves the new kitten Ellie so much and they play and cuddle non-stop 🙂

      Reply
      • jane
        November 6, 2017 at 6:49 am (1 year ago)

        Aww, Happy for you and your little furbabies! We are also getting a 5mo male kitten so that our 1.5yr old female can have a companion playmate. Praying n hoping they will warm up n like each other like yours did

        Reply
  12. Isabella
    February 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi, I get the article. But the problem with me is that: I always wanted to get 1 cat when I grow up. Why 1 cat? Becuase I wanted it to be my one and only cat, spoil the love for it, always be there for it. But what if its really lonely? Its hard to give love for 2 cats, mulitple the supplies, add more food, litter box. Its just so hard. 2 or 1 cat? And if you answer that question, I have one more. Gender. If I do only get 1 cat, if you say that, what gender? I usually like females but are they okay with other female owners (humans)? And if I get 2 cats, what gender? I dont like to get female and male because I dont want them to be sexually in love. I dont want 2 females, because they will probably hate each other. 2 males? They probably would fight. PLEASE HELP ME.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 3, 2017 at 5:12 pm (2 years ago)

      Only you can know whether you’d be able to handle two cats, or whether you’d be happier with a single cat, Isabella. If you decide to get two, gender is not as important as personality, and of course you’ll spay or neuter them (or they will already be spayed and neutered when you adopt them.)

      Reply
      • Isabella
        February 4, 2017 at 5:19 pm (2 years ago)

        “Only you can know whether you’d be able to handle two cats, or whether you’d be happier with a single cat, Isabella.”
        I know I can handle 1 cat, but what if its lonely? How do you know the personality of a cat? I’d spay if I get 2, but will they fight? What genders are the best?

        Reply
        • Amy
          February 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm (2 years ago)

          Hi Isabella,
          If you want to have only one cat, maybe you could adopt one that is a little older and mature. Maybe one whose owner passed away or something but is used to being an only cat. Younger cats can get lonely but also have lots of energy and need a playmate. If you want two cats, maybe you could find two younger cats that are siblings or that already play together at the adoption center. Then you would know they get along well. Good luck!

          Reply
          • Emily
            July 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm (1 year ago)

            I find it’s good to get 2 cats that are siblings. I had a brother and sister cat and they are great company to each other and the family. When you’re busy, they have each other to entertain.

    • Calli
      March 30, 2017 at 12:34 am (2 years ago)

      I have a male cat at the moment…only one…I got him when he was a kitten and I got told that he was a girl…so for about 2 months I thought he was a girl…turns out not :’) it made sense after that as he was very energetic…and sometimes naughty…but I think as a female owner, I definitely get on better with male animals…as they are so dosile and such big personalities…personally I think female cats are not as affectionate as toms, as my mum has 5 cats…a boy and 4 girls, and just living with them, the boy is 3, and is so lovely and affectionate, but the girls are older and pick and choose when they want to be, there a bit more moody. They can be very loving though, and yeah I’d say as well it does depend on there personality not just there gender…but in my experience raise a tom cat 🙂 they are so lovely, mine follows me everywhere, but make sure to get them neutered, as it calms them down and stops them weeing everywhere 🙂 but with boys they do sometimes fight with others…and can cause a bit of mischief at times, I’m thinking of getting him a friend…as he is only 2…and best of luck 🙂

      Reply
  13. Melody
    December 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm (2 years 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
    • faye
      February 23, 2017 at 11:41 pm (2 years ago)

      I am going through this simler situation older cat lover got killed 4 mths.ago she eats /sleeps that’s about it ,I got a chance tommor to get a male or female she is female lost myself

      Reply
  14. Ang
    November 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm (2 years 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 (2 years 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
  15. Esther
    October 25, 2016 at 8:56 am (2 years 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 years 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 years 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
    • Eryn Lipson
      January 28, 2017 at 1:36 am (2 years ago)

      I just got a male Siamese for my female Siamese and she is acting crazy wants nothing to do with him and I am wondering if it’s just a faze and she is mad cause I brought another cat home or what we also have 3 Dogs that the female doesn’t mind at all???

      Reply
  16. Began
    September 21, 2016 at 11:16 am (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years ago)

        Can i ask why? I do want kittens too

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          September 21, 2016 at 1:40 pm (2 years 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 (2 years ago)

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

        Reply
  17. L Krause
    August 9, 2016 at 11:24 am (2 years 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 (2 years 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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