Companion kitty: the seekening
May 23, 2015 11:12 PM   Subscribe

My adorable 7-month-old (ish) kitten Milo is not always as restful as the pictures make him seem. He has lots of energy and wants lots of play. I try to keep him entertained but I think he may need another little bundle of furry energy. I have only ever been a single-kitty household, so I have some questions.

His personality is very curious and investigative. There is another cat in the neighbourhood that he's very curious about, and I've caught him sitting on the windowsill trilling at this other cat (who hisses and chases him and is altogether disagreeable). I think he might be okay with another kitty in the household and not be mean to it. I realise that how two cats get along often comes down to personality, but I thought there might be some general common sense things I don't know about.

For example, should I get a cat around his own age, or older? Should I get another male cat or a female? Or doesn't it matter? I'm hoping the shelter can advise me if the prospective kitty gets along well with other cats.

I live in a flat that doesn't have heaps of room so they will have to share a litter tray (I can clean it multiple times a day, but there is no place for a second one). Should food areas be together or separate? What other things should I know about with two cats that I might not have encountered with just one?
posted by Athanassiel to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I got a male kitten for my young male cat (because he seemed lonely) and they've gotten along from the start. I do feed them separately though because the older one is greedy and will try to steal the younger cat's food.
posted by raw sugar at 11:24 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two neutered male cats will be ridiculously smoochy together. Highly recommend.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:00 AM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

My family has a lot of cats, and every household has had different experiences with all of this.

People generally recommend at least one litter box per cat, but I understand space being an issue. My cats growing up didn't care about sharing litter boxes, but I know some cats can be territorial and refuse to share (which is a shitty experience for all).

As far as food goes, that might depend on the cat. Some family members' cats don't like eating together (actually it comes down to one finishing first and trying to finish the other's food). My sister's cats don't care, and will eat right next to each other. That's something you can play by ear.

The biggest thing I've had to keep in mind is that it can take a lot longer for their relationships to form than you might expect. Then again, some cats hit it off instantly. I have seen older cats take to kittens really quickly, but it might be different if you're introducing an older cat to a new home and a new kitten. Either way, their relationship will develop over time.

Good luck!
posted by teponaztli at 1:47 AM on May 24, 2015

I... haven't really known cats to be happier living with other cats.

I know it happens sometimes, but I think the general wisdom is that it's easiest with two cats of the same litter, if they're kept together from birth, so if you're going to do it, test it out really soon.

But, I think we try to human-empathise with cats too much, and usually, they really, really, really like their own territory.

And actually, I can't even say I 'know', because I've mostly noticed cats that were one of several, that then became 'only' cats, becoming markedly more relaxed and happy, and you can only see that when one cat is taken away again.
For example, two cats that seemed to be 'family', and lived companionably for many years, and I thought were happier living together (given they were inside cats), and would curl up together, groom etc, but when the older male cat died - the other, after a brief adjustment period, just seemed so much happier, less stressed, and less anxious, less hairballs. A bit of a personality change from the quieter kitty she was before.

Anyway, if you still go ahead with it, I think the primary consideration is a trial period, so you can decide if they really ARE happier together.
That is the bit that is really hard to arrange, AND if it doesn't work out, you'll be tempted to stick with sunk costs, and not disrupt the new kitty, but will then have two slightly stressed kitties for life, or one dominant kitty and one stressed kitty.

Wait, actually - one counterexample: Stray cats are almost always solitary, which shows how they prefer it, but I did know a tom cat (Ted Baxter), that would hang around a queen (Mary Tyler Moore), so they must have liked each other's company, but Ted would still disappear for long periods of time.
posted by Elysum at 2:33 AM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: He's still a kitten! Of course he's playful and has energy. Only get a second cat if you actually want a second cat, because there are no guarantees that he and the new cat will even like each other very much.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:42 AM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd say younger cat, because it will be easier for both to navigate dominance stuff – first cat is more likely to be dominant since he's known the space longer, can "teach" younger cat, so on and so forth. That's not a rule though. I got an older male cat as a companion for my then-still-kittenish male, and the newcomer immediately staked out HIS spots, bopped young'un on the head, and they were fast friends until older cat passed away a couple years later. Younger cat was visibly grieving, it lasted for months. He only snapped out of it when I got him a younger female companion kitten. Then it was him doing the head-bopping, while she imitated him in all things feline. Four years later, they're still inseparable.

I've lived in very small apartments – 480sq.ft (45sq.m) and 325sq.ft (30sq.m) respectively – and my cats have always shared a single litterbox. I clean it twice a day, deep clean once a week, never had any issues. But, my cats get along really well. Also, I have a covered litterbox, which can make all the difference. Open ones aren't great, because it really needs to be private. I had a second, open litterbox briefly, and it Did Not Work because little spitfire thought it was hilarious to pounce on older cat while he was in there. So yeah, go covered.

With a male you can choose male or female companion. It's mainly female cats that don't get along amongst themselves, though I've seen plenty of exceptions to that "rule" throughout my life with cats as well. It depends more on personality, I think. So yes, definitely ask the shelter what a cat is like, and think about Milo's personality and what sort of cat he would mesh with. My older cat, Kanoko, is very laid-back, intelligent, and sweet. I knew Susu, the younger cat, was a fireball before I got her, and actually thought that would be great, because Kanoko's patience and introversion would balance with the little one's extraversion and move-move-move personality. So far that's definitely held true. Susu brings Kanoko out of his shell, while Kanoko has taught Susu the value of sitting still. (mostly. heh.)
posted by fraula at 3:18 AM on May 24, 2015

I have 3 cats (11, 8, 3) My oldest and the middle don't get along well. Really my middle cat is a cat who would be much happier as a lone cat. When my mother in law moved in she would would lock him in her bedroom room with her alone he would become so much more socialable with us humans, pur more and just relax.

However my youngest and oldest are unseperatable. They cry when apart. They groom each other, sleep together, play together. My oldest acts younger with the youngest around.

So sometimes it depends on the cat. (My middle cat was abused by his first owner for the first 4 weeks of his life which may or may not have influenced his development. )

I'd get a cat younger in age. In my experience introducing a younger cat seems to work better than introducing older cats Into an established household.

I'd say go for it and good luck!
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:52 AM on May 24, 2015

Wanted to add pictures of my cats for reference (sunfire, oldest dark orange, hazmat youngest light orange, and Celeste the black grey and white one)
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:13 AM on May 24, 2015

Stray/feral cats very often live in large colony groups. Cats are naturally very social -- but also very suspicious at first, and not good at conflict resolution, so fully adult cats who are suddenly introduced can form a distrustful relationship that never really resolves -- but that doesn't mean that they don't enjoy having friends when they can.

It sounds like your kitty is young, and friendly, so he'd probably really enjoy a friend. Please read all you can about introducing a new cat to the household, and follow the (inconvenient and sometimes time-consuming) advice you find. Don't rush it. Don't rush it. Let your kitty be incredibly curious about the stranger behind the bathroom door for several days; let the new kitty fully relax in the new, small space for a good long time before expanding his territory. If you are cautious, I think there's every reason to hope for success.
posted by amtho at 5:13 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it also has to do with how well you integrate them at the beginning. There are many articles about how to introduce a new cat or kitten to a household. If you are short on room, a bathroom or something would probably work for keeping a new kitten or cat in for a week or so, and at least in the short term you will need a second litter box. I never had issues with respect to feeding my cats together, but this is very much dependent on the cats.

I would say that at his age it probably matters less what gender the new addition is, but my experience is that if they are young, you can usually get away with same gender, but if at least one of them is older, you want to get one of the opposite gender (my understanding is that it's a territorial thing, but YMMV).

When I rescued two (female) feral kittens about a year and a half ago, I had two senior (male and female) cats. I kept the feral kittens in a separate room for a few months (partially for the purpose of domesticating them, but also to slowly introduce their scent into the house so the other cats would not feel threatened). The older female cat never connected with the kittens (and has since passed away, sadly), but she pretty much just stayed out of their way and kept to herself, but the older male cat bonded with them pretty quickly. Obligatory pictures.

Good luck!
posted by meowf at 5:32 AM on May 24, 2015

This is normal and it sounds like your cat is making progress. If they're unsure about something (in this case, it's a new home and new people), they like to hang back and observe. This is what your cat is doing.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:15 AM on May 24, 2015

We have two cats (both sisters from the same litter), and they have never had a problem sharing a single litter box. We clean it daily (with a deep cleaning - emptying the litter and scrubbing down the box - once per week) and it has never been an issue for us.

With regard to food, that depends on the cats. Ours graze on dry kibble throughout the day, but one of them is diabetic, so she has her own grain-free wet food. We have to feed her that separately because her sister would definitely try to sneak it away from her if she could.

With both cats being the same age, dominance isn't really a huge issue - although occasionally we will see one of them grooming the other. Every once in a rare while, we'll hear one of them slap the other for something they've done, such as waking them up from a nap. Since they're declawed, though, it isn't a major problem.
posted by Telpethoron at 7:52 AM on May 24, 2015

I've never seen slapping be a problem with clawed cats either. There's been the occasional scratch, but generally they keep their claws in unless there's a serious disturbance.
posted by wotsac at 10:25 PM on May 24, 2015

Your cat is young enough that you should be able to bring in a slightly older cat with minimal issues. A two or three year-old cat will have chilled out some and the youngster might pick up on that vibe. OR they could just be hellacious (fun) together. Depending on the rescue/shelter you may be able to get a reliable answer to the question, "which cats would do well with an energetic 7 month old kitty?"

Your cat's age also makes it easier to go with either a female or male cat. If you bring in a female it's possible that they'll have a more mom/son nurturing type of relationship. However, two young male cats are super fun together typically.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:28 AM on May 25, 2015

I would recommend a neutered male of similar age. An older cat will often feel threatened by the presence of a younger cat [expecting an aggressive mother to pop out of the woodwork].

You should be able to share resources without any problems.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:17 PM on May 25, 2015

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