Not going to name him Marius
September 30, 2011 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for bringing home a kitty friend for our lonely cat?

Cosette (pic, pic) has been pretty lonely since DH got a full time job last May, after working at home for the past 40 years. (We've only had Cosi for 2 years, though.)

We are thinking of getting her a little kitty friend, but I'd love suggestions from people who have brought a second kitty home. Cosette is three, and we specifically adopted her because she was an adult cat. Should we look for another young adult, or should we try to trigger her mothering instinct by bringing home a kitty? (Cosette is a wild and crazy cat, so the energy probably wouldn't bother her.)

We're not very concerned about her being territorial. She gets along fine with dogs that live in our building, and she lived with her sister for a year at the Humane Society.

If we do bring a kitty home, I know that we should separate them for the first few hours. More than that would be hard, as the litter box is in the bathroom, and we otherwise live in a 1BR apartment.

When we brought Cosette home, she hid in the closet for about an hour before wanting to come and play with us. Should we look for a kitty with a similar outgoing personality? Should we be concerned about getting a boy or a girl?
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend bringing home a boy kitten. Adult female cats tend to not like other (non-related) female cats after a certain point, and most animals tend to be more tolerant of baby animals than grown up ones.

There are lots of ways to introduce cats to each other, but I can tell you that when we brought a kitten home, we just put her in the cat tree and she yelled at the other cats for a little while but then got along famously. We definitely kept an eye on the situation for the first couple of days, but things were fine and she was curling up with them in no time. You should let Cosette set boundaries with the kitten (as long as she isn't actually harming the little guy) though so the kitten learns his place with her.
posted by Kimberly at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2011

I would adopt a male kitten.

In my experience, acclimating a kitten to an adult cat is much easier because kittens are still quite pliable personality-wise and tend to respond well to an adult cat's "discipline". (It's unfortunate though since the shelters are chock-full of adoptable adults.)

Also, by bringing a little boy cat into the mix, that should prevent any girl-girl cat competition. YMMV.
posted by sproggie at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2011

My cat recommended a young male as a companion to our old male once we were ready to get another cat after we had to put our old girl to sleep. I think a young male would also be better in your situation, since I've always heard that female cats tend to be more territorial.

A lot of it depends on the cat, though -- Sweet Jane was 4 when we brought 8-week old Miles home, and she tolerated him, but never warmed up to him. Miles was 11 when we brought home 3-month old Manny, and they are becoming BFFs. We did the introductions the same way -- isolate the kitten for the first few days, let them switch rooms to get used to each others smells, used the same brush on both of them, fed then with a closed door between them, etc. The only difference is that this time we got also got a Feliway diffuser.
posted by amarynth at 8:32 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

One additional data point in favor of not bringing in a female: my then-3 year old female got super cranky when I brought home a female kitten, and both of them got even crankier when, a few years later, we moved in with my husband and his adult female kitty. (Both times, I did my research and did all of the traditional keep them separated stuff, to no avail.) It's gotten better, but there's still some hissing and no cute cat-on-cat snuggling. I think part of it is personality, and some female cats would get along fine, but mine didn't really.
posted by slmorri at 8:34 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Holy cow, our vet recommended a young male as a companion, not our cat! Now I'm picturing Miles being all, "Given my temperament and activity level, I think that a young male would be an appropriate companion."
posted by amarynth at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2011 [13 favorites]

amarynth knows the drill. I came in to say exactly what she said: get a kitten, isolate one animal, feed them on opposite sides of the door, switch up the rooms, and then let them at each other. I've never used Feliway, but it won't hurt.

Yay! A kitten! If you get the kitten before this askme closes, will you come back and post a picture, please?
posted by dchrssyr at 9:04 AM on September 30, 2011

Of course. :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:09 AM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nthing the idea of a young male. I once brought a six-month-old female home to share an apartment with my six-year-old female and me. I tried all the things they suggest but Older Cat frequently attacked Younger Cat viciously despite my efforts to introduce YC slowly. This lasted until YC apparently started fighting back. (Interestingly, YC started fighting back right around the time I started looking for another home for her because I didn't think the situation was humane.)

After that, there was kitty detente for many years with only a rare flareup of hostilities, up until Older Cat's demise. It helped when I moved to another apartment too. They never really liked each other but they were resigned to the situation, I guess. I wouldn't put another cat -- or myself -- through it again.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:13 AM on September 30, 2011

The cat I now have was born under the house and when we first brought her in things were ok. She tried to make friends with the older female, but the older one didn't want anything to do with her. We moved to a much bigger house where everything was copasetic until we moved into a tiny house. It was then that everything fell apart between the two females. The younger one would play sentry over the food and litter box. Two of each helped a bit, but one still hounded the other leaving the hounded one miserable. I doubt I'll ever have two females, even if they're from the same litter, ever again. Btw I'm in the same boat, but mine is 12 and I'm thinking of a kitten too because (I hope!) they'll will be likely to adapt to a new situation.
posted by squeak at 9:17 AM on September 30, 2011

Agreeing with amarynth about the introduction process. And if you'd like more insight into cat dynamics, I recommend finding Cat vs Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat (Google Books preview, and on Amazon where you can preview other parts of the book). The book talks about hierarchy and spaces, and now my house of 5 cats makes a bit more sense.

You might want to review the importance of territory (most available to preview on Google Books), as it covers a lot of cat dynamics regarding spaces (physical hierarchy = social hierarchy, key spaces are shared by schedules, scratching posts and hiding spaces, etc).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:33 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

And personal anecdote from my house of 5 cats (4 of them female): we started with a male kitten, added his mother while he was still young, and they were fine together (both short-haired grays). I chose a lively little tortoise shell she-kitten, who was a little hellion in her younger days, and play fought with the male (then no longer a kitten) and tried to play fight with the mother, who would have none of it. We didn't do anything smart about introducing the newest kitten, and it eventually worked out, with two food bowls and one litter bin.

We added two older ladies (a surly tabby, and a yeowly American Bombay) into our house of cats (not really by choice, but by circumstances). We threw them all in together, more-or-less, and the two new older ladies took to living upstairs, away from our trio. It was (and still is) the male cat who is the primary aggressor in the household, pouncing or cornering the two older ladies in turns. The Bombay has finally taken to coming downstairs, but isn't friendly with any of the cats. The tabby hates everyone, and has largely claimed one room has her own. We now have two litter boxes, one upstairs and another downstairs, and four food bowls (two up and two down). They all abide because of ample space, plenty of levels, and some good hidey spaces.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2011

Oh, another thing to keep in mind is that kittens are adorable, hilarious, incredibly irritating creatures. I hadn't had a kitten for 10 years before we got Manny, and I forgot. The kitten will pester Cosette non-stop and still manage to climb on top of every piece of furniture you own. He will attack your feet while you sleep. He will try to jump in the shower with you, and then be very unhappy when he succeeds. He will hang from your wooden blinds. He will lie down in a plate of flour when you're trying to dredge chicken.

He'll grow out of it, of course, but in the meantime, especially if you're not used to kittens, they can be crazy-making.
posted by amarynth at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

They will CLIMB UP YOUR BODY WITH THEIR DEVIL CLAWS. I love our little cat (who is no longer a kitten), but the time she leaped onto me to climb me like a window screen (yeah, she climbed window screens, when she was light enough to do so), I was not happy with her.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:13 AM on September 30, 2011

Yes, kittens are a lot of work. When we first got Toby, we thought we were going to go nuts. Maybe we briefly did. We had to use Ssscat cans all over to keep him from getting into places we didn't want him going. But he did eventually calm down, and he's totally worth it. You just have to be ready to put up with some insanity for a little while...
posted by sharding at 10:43 AM on September 30, 2011

Just a thought--if your taste runs more to adult cats, you might try a young male who's around 8-10 months old. Still young enough to not freak Cosette out as much, but without as much of the kitten madness. Do make sure he's neutered though!
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2011

(amarynth--I want Manny, very badly. And I would pay good money for a picture of him in the plate of flour.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:53 AM on September 30, 2011

seriously, amarynth! Manny is GORGEOUS. black silk velvet kitty! also I agree with the male kitten/younger adolescent advice here, fwiw :)
posted by supermedusa at 11:08 AM on September 30, 2011

sharding, Cosette does that muffin kneading all the time as well. :-)

Thanks for all the advice so far. And yes, the Humane Society wouldn't give us a cat who wasn't neutered.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:11 AM on September 30, 2011

Seconding the advice for a youngish male, but not a kitten. We just got a 6-7 month old male for our year and a half male, and it has worked wonderfully. The new kitty was old enough to understand the adult cat body language and not be accidentally hurt by the older one when they play, but he was still young enough to be submissive.

Also... he had outgrown the climbing-up-pants-legs stage!!!
posted by marylucycraft at 5:37 PM on September 30, 2011

Yep. Boy-girl is a good combo. When we got our second cat the vet tech went into very detailed instructions on how to do cat introductions that were so gradual the whole process would take months....and then the vet came in waved her hand and said "Eh, let them sniff each other some, it'll be fine" we went with the middle ground of supervised visits for a week or so, and then by the second week they were tolerating each other enough we left them alone together...end of the month they're BFF (Which stands for "Best Furry Friends")
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:03 PM on September 30, 2011

Don't freak out if they hate each other at first! They will. For a while. Then things will be fine.

Years ago I moved my year-and-a-half-old cat in with a roommate who had an ancient, mean 'ol rescued barn cat, and her Bailey would howl and hiss and growl at my little Eric for a week or so, we couldn't keep them in the same room. Then suddenly, they got along. then became inseparable, and would sleep spooning each other. Eric has never, ever been that close with anyone else, including our current other cat or myself. So it's possible.
posted by custard heart at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2011

I'd definitely, had I asked a question like this, have gone with a slightly more grown up male. Our older cat (6-7 years, former stray, jumpy, but wonderful) is very, very threatened by the 3 month old female kitten we got from the vet. We've had to keep the kitten in her own room since she came home, and all attempts at introduction have ending in hissing and growling from the older cat, plus running away if at all possible. If things were to actually turn violent, I worry about the size difference between the two cats, because the older cat could serious hurt the kitten.

It kind of sucks, because we got this kitten for mostly the same reasons; we both work, and our cat was alone roughly 12 hours every day. I'd hoped it would go more smoothly than this, but every piece of advice I've seen (mostly after getting the kitten) said don't put to females together, and don't put a kitten with an older cat.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:03 PM on October 1, 2011

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