Have a cat, introducing a new cat - gender and age?
November 4, 2017 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a 4 y/o female cat. After initially being happy having the house to herself after losing her buddy 6 months ago is definitely lonely. Trying to decide what gender and age of cat we should adopt. Getting two cats isn't an option (yes, we've heard that would be ideal). Cat is a retired breeder and not a fan of kittens. I know opinions go all over the board on this, so am interested in anecdata from my trusted mefi community as well as any empirical information you may be able to link to.
posted by arnicae to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
We have two female cats, ages three and two. We got the older cat right around her first birthday and the younger cat a few months later (when she was a kitten, around four or five months). We're pretty sure that the older cat thinks she's the younger cat's mom, and that that's helped them get along.

So I think you should get a cat that is younger than your cat.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:07 AM on November 4, 2017

I've found that adult cats generally adapt better to kittens, but it sounds like your cat may have issues with that.

Generally it's easier to stick to the same gender and to take it very slow.

Each cat relationship is different so you may not get the close results that your previous pair had .

Part of this is why we have three cats, we don't want our guys to be lonely if one passes, though one of our guys would probably be perfectly happy as an only cat.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2017

In our very similar case (kitty that passed was a boy) we brought home a young female cat, and it’s been rough. The younger one is part Maine Coon and really spirited and the older one just gets cranky and hisses and swats at her. I feel like a male cat might have worked better for us, especially a relatively mellow one like a big orange tabby or some such.
posted by cabingirl at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2017

I would get another female of the same age or older. It sounds like your cat would not want the playfulness and neediness of a younger cat.
posted by shoesietart at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2017

This is a situation that you just can't predict or control. Cats are individuals, and how they react to a new cat depends on each cat's individual traits. You should let go of the expectation that you're getting your current cat a "friend"; it might happen, and it might not.

From my experience, having lived in multiple-cat households since I was a baby: I've had some pairs of cats that got along really well and seemed to be close buds. But the other inter-cat relationships varied between "yes, I suppose you are here too, I guess" to "I hate you and hate your face get away." There was no real way to predict that a pair of cats would or wouldn't be friends. Sometimes a cat would be very social, but only with this one other cat.

I agree that you should get an older cat - one that is old enough to have calmed down enough to have similar energy levels to your current cat. Might as well remove one obvious source of friction.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:08 AM on November 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you have a vet who knows your specific cat's personality well, I would ask their advice. For what it's worth, when we had an older female cat who was somewhat difficult about other cats, our vet's advice was "as young as you can adopt, and male." In your case I feel like I'd alter that advice to maybe 2 years old and male, give or take a year. But honestly a lot of it's just a crapshoot no matter what.
posted by Stacey at 11:42 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't really have citations for this but I was under the understanding that female cats govern territory. So assuming she has been spayed upon retirement, I'd get an older male cat. I know this is just anecdotal, but in my experience older female cats can have a hard time integrating with each other. I just introduced a new boy cat and did the whole thing where you leave the new cat in a closed room with food and a box for a few weeks, switching the old cats and the new cat occasionally so they can mingle their smells and feeding them on opposite sides of the door and it went really smoothly.
posted by Bistyfrass at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

Anecdotally, I have introduced a lot of cats (because of fostering). We have one spayed female who is about three years old and she hates that other cats exist. She can't stand my neutered male about the same age, nor any other cat she has been introduced. The only beings she will tolerate, after some initial hissing, are the foster kittens. She is not super fond of them, but there is all out cat war between the male and female (we're working on it) and she just hisses at the kittens if they get too close to her. The nice thing about kittens is that they are not likely to be very defensive, which helps imo to de-escalate the situation (my neutered male knows nothing about de-escalation whatsoever).

I'd get a boy, again anecdotally, but every time I've had two adult females in a household they've hated each other, and boy-girl pairs get along much better. This may be a personality thing. Get a calm(ish) boy kitten and I think that will help.
posted by possibilityleft at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2017

I would disregard gender and look for a cat of a similar age or older who is popular with other cats in its shelter/foster environment. You want one who not only likes other cats, but is beloved among its own species. Some cats just have that sort of chemistry with their peers — they didn’t get the memo that they aren’t supposed to be social creatures, and then other cats around them seem to forget that memo. Lots of cats bond in pairs, but you want the one who’s just casual friends with everybody, no favorites, no “primaries.” A real cat’s cat.

It’s been my experience that lazy red/red and white tabbies do especially well at this, but obviously I’m stereotyping based on my own anecdotes. (I can stereotype better if you add a pic of your girl, obviously.)

Good luck!
posted by armeowda at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

You need someone like my cat Charlie. Big orange longhaired tabby, tolerates all things. New cats, new dogs, babies, etc.
posted by Marinara at 3:07 PM on November 4, 2017

Complementary activity levels and personalities are the most important things to consider. If your resident cat is calm and independent, matching her with another calm and independent cat of any age or sex will be more successful than trying to introduce an energetic, playful, needy cat who will pester her and demand her attention. Rescues or shelters will know the personalities of their cats and can help you find a good match.
posted by jesourie at 7:04 AM on November 5, 2017

Everyone I knew told me to get a young boy kitty for my crabby girl. All the advice I read said young male for older female. That…did not work out as well as everyone promised. She hated him till the day she died, tried to move in with neighbors at one point. I figured since she was a (rare) orange tabby female, and they're famously chill cats, it'd be great. She tolerated my foster dogs way better, and some of them were pretty awful.

So I'm in the camp that says gender probably has less to do with it than temperament, and if you can find that popular older cat or otherwise perfect match to her personality, or that cat's cat like armeowda says, you'll be way better off. I really wish I'd known that back then, because as much as I love my little guy, he made the last part of her life fairly miserable, and that broke my heart.
posted by emcat8 at 12:56 PM on November 5, 2017

I agree that temperament, which varies regardless of age or gender, is the most important factor.

But for what it's worth, our most recent combination was two females. The younger, newer, and more active one despised the very mellow and sweet older one who was already here.

We have also had two male cats -- both very mellow -- who adored each other.

So who knows?

But for whatever it's worth, the ASPCA recommends cats of different genders. (Sorry that I can't find the link for that recommendation at the moment.)
posted by merejane at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2017

My experience is that female cats are much more territorial than male cats. Also, my female cats have always fought for dominance, whereas my male cats have always been more easygoing. I am currently looking for a kitten to join my 1 1/2-year-old male cat, as he gets lonely during the day and I think he needs a playmate to keep him from being bored. So, I think you should get a male cat.
posted by poppunkcat at 7:38 AM on November 7, 2017

I adopted a young male (he showed up so I did not have the luxury of picking) when I had an 8-year-old female already and while they are buddies now, it was a very hard slog. The lady was not into the rambunctious, playful kitten and was very disappointed with me. If I were picking, I might pick an older, very chill male. If you go with a rescue, it's a double benefit to pick an older cat because they are harder to find homes for.
posted by *s at 8:38 AM on November 9, 2017

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