Until Buckley came into my life in 2006, I’d been an “only cat” person.
I didn’t get my first cat until I was in my twenties. Feebee was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband. We were living in Germany at the time, but knew we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the one and only feline love of my life.
After Feebee passed away following a lengthy battle with lymphoma, Amber came into my life. She was a stray who was brought to the animal hospital I worked at with her five kittens. I did not think I was ready for another cat yet. The wound from Feebee’s passing was still very fresh and raw, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult, so I took Amber home, “just for the weekend.” I really liked having her quiet, gentle energy around, and decided I was going to foster her. She became the classic “failed foster,” and for almost ten years, her gentle, loving, wise presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, brought love and affection into my life until she passed away after a sudden illness last May.
With both Feebee and Amber, I had occasionally thought about bringing another cat home with me. I worked at various animal hospitals, so there were always a cats that needed homes, and some touched my heart more than others. But I held off. I intuitively knew Feebee was the classic “only cat.”
And then Buckley came into my life in the spring of 2005. Those of you who’ve read Buckley’s Story already know this story, but for those of you who haven’t, here’s the abbreviated version. She was brought to the animal hospital I managed after being rescued from a farm in Southwestern Virginia. I took one look at her and fell in love. Hard. And fast. She became my office cat at the animal hospital. In 2006, I left the animal hospital to start my own business, and the thought of leaving Buckley behind was more than I could bear.
Everybody said I was crazy to try to introduce two adult tortoiseshell cats to each other. If you know anything about torties, you know about “tortitude.” They’re known to have some pretty distinct personality traits, and they’re not always known for getting along with other cats. I won’t go into the details of what I went through to introduce Buckley to Amber, but I also won’t spoil the book for you if you haven’t read it yet, because it’s no secret that they ended up getting along beautifully.
For the first time in my life, I had more than one cat – and I really loved it. A year and a half after Buckley died in November of 2008, I adopted Allegra to join Amber and me. Sadly, Amber passed away suddenly only five short weeks after Allegra joined our family, and it took another year before I had worked through my grief and was ready to add another cat to our family. Ruby joined us in April of this year.
I’ve been lucky. Amber and Buckley got along very quickly. Amber initially wasn’t too thrilled when Allegra joined us. She was twelve years old at the time, Allegra was seven months old. On paper, that’s not a great match. It’s usually better to match up cats who are close in age and temperament. Amber and Allegra were neither. But Amber was laid back and mellow enough to accept the rambunctious newcomer after just a few days.
Allegra and Ruby were a perfect match. They were well matched on paper, they’re about a year apart in age and have similar temperaments. I knew all along that Allegra needed a companion – she came to me with some behavior issues, and even though I worked with her successfully on my own, we would probably have made faster progress if I had added another kitten to our family sooner.
Even when the match sounds good in theory, you still never know until you get the two cats together whether things will work out. With Allegra and Ruby, it was magic. I went on gut instinct and against all the traditional recommendations of how to introduce two cats to each other, and within a few hours, the two of them were comfortably hanging out in the living room together. They bonded incredibly fast. They love to play with each other, chase each other around the house, and they both sleep with me at night.
The biggest benefit of having two cats, in the case of Allegra and Ruby, has been for Allegra. She has blossomed since Ruby’s arrival. She’s become more confident, her behavioral problems have all but disappeared, and while she certainly wasn’t an unhappy cat before, now she’s far more relaxed and content.
As for me, I can no longer imagine not having two cats. It’s been such a joy to watch Allegra come into her own, and to watch Ruby and Allegra together. Do I regret not getting another cat sooner? Sometimes I do. But if I hadn’t waited, I wouldn’t have Ruby, and if the past two months are any indication, Allegra and Ruby are truly a match made in heaven.
So are two cats better than one? When they get along, absolutely. But like so many things with cats, it’s an individual decision. What may be right for one cat or one person may not be right for the next one. By doing your homework, knowing your existing cat, and learning as much as you can about the cat you’re thinking about adding to your family, you’ll make sure that you get the best possible match. And if that’s the case, then two cats are, indeed, better than one.
This post is sponsored by the Pets Add Life campaign and the American Pet Products Association. The Pets Add Live campaign spreads the word about the benefits and joys of pet ownership. Visit PAL’s Facebook Page, post pictures of your pets, and join the conversation!
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You may also enjoy reading:
New cat introductions: breaking all the rules
Keeping your single cat happy
The joys of adopting an older cat