two cats sharing a bed

Most Cats are Not Party Animals

Question:
I adopted two female cats a couple of years ago. The younger one has always been energetic and playful. The older cat recently died. I’m now wondering if my remaining cat “needs” a friend. I’d prefer to not adopt an additional cat due to the risk of unknowingly choosing one that comes with high medical bills or potential behavior problems, since my current cat was the dominant one.

Dr. Nichol:
Relationships can be challenging. The maxim, “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives” doesn’t apply to pets. A bullied indoor cat is stuck with her tormentor.

Cats and dogs can negotiate their personal affairs in the wild. They choose when, with whom, or if they want to interact. Human contrivances like houses, fences, and windows are not part of their genetic programming. Thrust together in a living space meant for people, kitties can feel crowded and trapped. Stressful situations lead to fighting, house soiling, and escape attempts. We are ethically obliged to minimize stress by allowing our pets to engage in their natural behaviors – easier said than done.

Cats can live amicably in pairs or groups if they have generous opportunities to satisfy their savage and solitary proclivities. They need an indoor Wild Kingdom so they can climb, stalk, hide, and enjoy a plethora of amusements. Visit my website, drjeffnichol.com, for a list of Feline Environmental Enrichments.

If your heart is set on hand-picking a new BFF for your currently content cat, an assertive character of similar age might be a safe gamble. Studies have shown that the younger cats are when they’re required to share living quarters the better their chances of at least tolerating each other. Very slow and gradual introductions across a closed door can help them adjust to the challenge.

On the other hand, if your girl is simpatico in her current life be assured that she has no requirement for a feline soul mate. Another cat may be unwelcome. Rude noises, halitosis, off-color humor, and political differences have all been blamed for inflicting permanent damage on feline friendships. My advice? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

During the COVID19 crisis Dr. Jeff Nichol is conducting behavior consultations by telephone (505-792-5131) and video rather than in-person. Each week Dr. Nichol shares a blog and a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.