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Cat Companions: Does your Cat Need a Friend?

photo of kitten licking the face of a white dog | Whitworth Animal ClinicCats are notorious loners. Yet despite their reputation, many cats thrive in and desire companionship from other animals.

Companions can provide mental and physical stimulation for cats allowing them to interact socially, promoting exercise, and providing a playmate. Often companions curb destructive behavior, and if the companion is another cat, they will both stay cleaner as they will groom each other.

While the benefits can be rewarding for cat and owner, there are many things to consider before introducing a new animal into your house. First, you must be ready for a second pet. Getting your cat a buddy may seem like a great idea, but it will be your pet to feed and care for, and initially at least, it will be more work for you.

If you are ready for the responsibility, then you should also consider whether your cat can handle sharing you and your home. You need to take your cat’s personality and temperament into consideration. Cats have various needs, and you should spend careful time considering those before making a decision. While you may want another pet, it may not work for your current furry friend.

Once you are ready to move forward, you will need to consider what kind of companion will be best. If you are adding another cat, you will need enough space and toys for both and plenty of time to help them adjust. Experts disagree on the best matches for cat pairs, but all agree an older cat will do best with cats that have a complimentary personality. Kittens and adolescents generally will find a way to get along. And of course, make sure if the cats are opposite sexes, they are spayed and neutered.

Even if the cats are a match, you cannot just bring a cat home and expect them to be best buddies. You will need to put the new cat in a separate room bonding with it and doting on your old friend separately. After a few days, gradually introduce the cats by leaving the door open. The cats will meet on their own time; don’t force it. Make sure you focus on your longtime friend, so he or she does not feel threatened. It can take up to a year for some cats to buddy up, so make sure you are in it for the long haul before bringing another cat home.

If it is a dog you want for your cat’s new friend, then look for either a puppy or a dog raised with cats. When introducing them, confine them to one room making sure your cat has plenty of space to hide. Also make sure you protect the dog’s nose as it is particularly vulnerable to scratches.

If you need help determining whether or not your cat is companion ready, contact Whitworth Animal Clinic. Located in Madison, Alabama, Whitworth Animal Clinic serves Madison, Huntsville, Decatur and other areas in north Alabama. Dr. Charles Whitworth has been treating cats and dogs since 1981, providing expert quality and personal care. Contact us today to make an appointment.