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getting a second cat - advice needed (sorry, long post!)

(11 Posts)
lirael Sun 14-Apr-13 11:34:25

We have one lovely cat, who we've had for 18 months now. She is 2-3 yrs old, (the rescue centre weren't sure of her age, but she was tiny when we got her - had had a litter very young indeed). She isn't particularly unfriendly to other cats that come into our garden - bristles up a bit but doesn't fight. She is very affectionate with me and DS, but indifferent to DH and other men, despite huge efforts by DH to woo her, and avoids strangers (apart from a chosen few, usually people who have cats themselves). She is very playful - like a kitten really. She sometimes seems bored - I am homeschooling DS2 (who is autistic ) and she is always rushing around when we're in the garden, trying to join in games. He is wary of animals as a rule but has progressed to being able to stroke her on the back, which she tolerates very well indeed. In fact, for a cat who runs away when noisy children come to the house, she is amazingly bombproof where DS2 is concerned!

I feel that she might benefit from having another cat around - have always had pairs of cats in the past - but would also like DH to have a cat that paid him more attention! Do cats learn from other role -models? I am wondering whether another cat would help her to become more confident.

There seems to be such a lot of advice around introducing a second cat. I remember when I was growing up that we had a succession of cats and kittens, all of who overlapped with each other and I don't remember keeping them separate for any great length of time or even making any particular effort over the introduction process. They all got on and we never had any problems.

So advice needed. Male or female? Cat or kitten? Introduction process necessary or not? (Keeping them separate for three weeks could be a deal breaker for us as DS2 will open doors). Or just stick to one cat? I wouldn't want to do anything that would disturb our existing cat.

lirael Sun 14-Apr-13 11:35:21

all of whom! (tut tut)

cozietoesie Sun 14-Apr-13 12:24:57

She sounds to me, lirael, like a cat who is entirely happy being a singleton. I'd be real careful about introducing another one when her relationship with DS2 is progressing so well.

thecatneuterer Sun 14-Apr-13 17:17:47

If she doesn't seem too hostile to other cats then I would say do it. There is normally the odd skirmish when another cat is introduced, but if you do it carefully and are patient the chances are they will end up at worst tolerating each other and at best really getting on.

Your local rescue should be able to tell you which of their cats really love other cats, which is a good start. The sex of the cat doesn't normally make a difference - it's the personality that counts. And of course if it really doesn't work out any rescue will always take the cat back, and there are so many unwanted cats out there, and rescue centres are so overwhelmed, they would prefer that people tried and failed to take one on than not to try at all.

As for how to do it - I wouldn't say it's necessary to keep them separate for more than a couple of days while of course monitoring the situation. However, as with any new cat, you shouldn't let the new cat out for at least three weeks. So if you can't trust your son not to let the new cat out then that would be problem. You would also have to keep windows closed for that three week period as well (on leave on draught-lock) so stop the new cat gettiing out that way.

lirael Sun 14-Apr-13 17:50:41

He can't open external doors yet, only internal, so that should be fine. Windows will be OK too. Would you say rescue cat rather than rescue kitten?

So, one vote for and one against so far...

marzipanned Sun 14-Apr-13 18:20:25

To be honest, it's very hard to say whether your cat would benefit from having another cat around. I've generally had pairs, too, but I can honestly say that I think they would've all been happier as singletons.

However, if you want to introduce another cat to the family for your DH's benefit, then it sounds as though current kitty would adapt, so why not?

I'd personally go for a rescue cat rather than kitten because you'll have a better idea of their personality; also I have a feeling (perhaps incorrect) that kittens tend to get snapped up more quickly so anyone who is ambivalent about kitten/older cat should go for the older cat who might have spent longer at the rescue centre.

Good luck if you do go for it!

thecatneuterer Mon 15-Apr-13 01:21:21

Yes I would say cat rather than kitten as their personality will have already developed and the rescue will be able to tell you if they like other cats or not. Also kittens are so boisterous than they can rather annoy mature cats.

deliasmithy Mon 15-Apr-13 07:32:20

Give it a go, but it may or may not work.

We had one cat who was foul tempered, bit us constantly, meaowed constantly, and liked to aggressively go after next doors cat.

I then got a kitten with the opposite personality. Chalk and cheese. When the kitten was new I kept them separately when not supervised. For first contact I put one or other in a cage for 3 / 4 mins at a time. Tons of hissing from the cat. Constant growling. I paid the cat tons of attention, gave her treats in front of kitten and put treats in a line closer and closer to cage.
When released the only time she stopped growling was when eating a treat.
This went on for 6 weeks.
I thought I was going to have to give up.

But then I noticed the cats personality changed. Shes much calmer, never hisses, growls or bites. Like a different cat! They have rough and tumble fights that can end up with one cat at each end of the house, but they also sleep next to each other and kiss noses.

They both love me and use DH as back up when I'm not around. Im in bed and currently no. 1 cat is lying across my neck and no. 2 is on my feet. Love it.

deliasmithy Mon 15-Apr-13 07:37:23

Oh and when getting a kitten definitely keep it separate initially. For one it will be tiny, 2, if stressed by the big cat it can run back to its original room for safety.
Could you not put a sign on the door to remind everyone?
After 3 weeks I only kept the kitten in a room when no one else was about as she was so small.

lirael Mon 15-Apr-13 08:48:05

It's only DS2 who would open a door - and he can't read, so a sign wouldn't work. But I can see ways round it - and the room we'd keep the new cat in is one he rarely goes into.

I am still in two minds tbh. Will keep in touch with the two local rescue centres who put detailed descriptions of their cats' personalities on their website and see if the 'right' cat comes up. DH said last night he would prefer a kitten though - I think he thinks he'd be able to bond with it more easily (or it with him I should say).

cozietoesie Mon 15-Apr-13 08:51:09

I'd go for a rescue cat if you decide to get number two. They'll have been assessed by the shelter and you have a better idea of what sort of personality you're going to have living with you. Kittens are always an unknown quantity, I think.

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