Getting a second cat, what kind should we get to make sure they get along?
February 2, 2005 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Cat Filter. We just lost an elderly cat, leaving us with only one. Potato Chip is 4, spayed, playful, and large-and-in-charge. (Really, she's like 20 lbs.) She used to bully the older cat--eat her food, ambush her out of the litter box, etc.--and doesn't seem to notice that she's gone now. I like to have 2 cats around and intend to get another. My question is, how can I minimize the bullying and maximize the peace of our happy home? I'm thinking a kitten, since a kitten would naturally be submissive to an adult. Does that sound right? Should this kitten be male or female? (Neutering will be done before we bring new kitty home, if necessary.) Rambunctious or shy and retiring? It's really a crapshoot, I know, but all opinions are welcomed.
posted by scratch to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
I've had tons of cats, and some are just bullies to other cats. Rest assured that Potato Chip will be a dick to any other cat that you bring in the house. But as long as they're not hurting each other, it's not a big deal. The other cat just avoids the boss cat and you're there to make sure new cat gets fed.

That said, if you get another cat with a strong personality they will hurt each other. Best bet is to get an adult neutered tom. Females are usually more agressive and territorial. If you get a tom with a sweet personality, he'll pretty much just think "what crawled up Potato Chip's ass?" and go about his business.

A kitten is probably a bad idea because Potato Chip can take full advantage. And the cat needs a fully-developed personality so you can tyell that's he's easygoing.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:53 PM on February 2, 2005

In my experience with a bully cat (that I still have), crossing gender is better. We had a male and female and introduced another female. The first female did not take well to that at all! I think the territorial urges are increased by the same gender presence... I don't have any factual knowledge to back that up, really.

I'm really seconding Mayor Curley's advice.
posted by Slothrop at 2:07 PM on February 2, 2005

I have a cat who's a dick to my other cat, and my vet recommended this pheremone stuff:

I haven't tried it though. It doesn't seem like it would help much in a long-established relationship like my cats have, but it might reduce stress when you're introducing a new cat.
posted by agropyron at 2:09 PM on February 2, 2005

Male kitten. Worked for us.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:10 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm in full agreement. A male kitten would be an excellent choice. Even spayed, my two female cats would try to out spray each other in the house (yes, it's all better now.) The male cat didn't bother anyone and no one bothered him. It may be a rough go in the beginning, but they'll keep each other company before you know it. Good Luck!
posted by laurenbove at 2:25 PM on February 2, 2005

I second male kitten - my male kitten absolutely KICKS THE ASS of my older female, and has since he was teeny tiny. She doesn't deserve it, I might add, but he's a friggin' hellion to her, so maybe if your older girl is a bully this will make it even.
posted by tristeza at 2:27 PM on February 2, 2005

Yep, it's always better with dogs and cats to get opposite-sex pairings (especially if they'll be close in age). A kitten wouldn't be my first choice, actually, you likely want a self-confident but tolerant male cat, who really likes other cats. Getting a kitten won't solve the bullying problem permanently - any pecking order decided between adult and kitten becomes null and void when the kitten grows up anyway. If there was ever a perfect time to go to a shelter or rescue and get a young adult cat whose personality is known, this is it. Kittens are a crap shoot.
posted by biscotti at 4:32 PM on February 2, 2005

Regardless of what kind of cat you get (I'd consider a grownup, large, male cat, myself - one fairly laid back, per biscotti), I think it's critically important to introduce the two cats correctly. In the best of all worlds, each will associate the other with good things ("gee, the first five times I saw him/her, it was wonderful ... ")

So if you've not already done so, you might google on:

"introducing a new cat" [with the quotation marks]

and read about what works well.

Good luck!
posted by WestCoaster at 4:42 PM on February 2, 2005

I had a similar situation (one territorial female cat, wanted a second cat). I adopted a rather large and very mellow adult male cat. While things weren't all sweetness and light for the first few weeks they get along OK now. My boy cat knows not to take any crap from my girl cat and he doesn't usually start crap with her.

Think about getting a Maine Coon cat. My boy cat is part Maine Coon and he is the biggest softie ever. Maine Coons are known for having a very easygoing temperament, and they tend to be rather large. They're a pretty common breed in the U.S. and I've seen a lot of rescue cats that appear at least part Maine Coon - so you can often find a cat with the breed characteristics from the humane society or a cat rescue organization.
posted by rhiannon at 10:20 PM on February 2, 2005

Mine's a Maine Coon female and I'll second the temperament. She's the chattiest, most affectionate, most easygoing cat I've ever encountered.
And she's bigger than some dogs I've seen.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:42 AM on February 3, 2005

I've had a lot of luck with getting female cats with friendly personalities to get along with other cats. However, I'd say that your best bet might be to get a cat from the Humane Society. A lot of their volunteers are really good at knowing which cats tend to get along well with others. You might try asking them for advice on what kind of cat they'd recommend.
posted by unreason at 7:03 AM on February 3, 2005

Response by poster: And the winner is....neutered, sweet-natured adult male!

Thank you all for your very informative advice. (Mayor Curley, your post made me laugh, too. I needed that.) I do have experience introducing a new cat into a household, and fully intend to go the shelter or rescue route, so will grill the people thoroughly. Meow.
posted by scratch at 7:43 AM on February 3, 2005

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