Whether you already have a houseful of furry friends, or are simply considering getting a companion for your existing pet, it's important to proceed slowly with the addition of a new cat.
As a current cat owner, you already know that you're making a 15-20 year commitment, so you — and every person in the house — better be ready. Not only that, your current cat may have a thing or two to say about the new kid intruding on her territory!
Adopting a cat or kitten is a big undertaking. Here are five things you must consider before bringing home one more kitty.
1. How old is your existing cat? If you have an older cat who has been a solitary creature all her life, it’s probably safe to assume that she won’t suddenly fall in love with a new addition to your household. A senior cat will be particularly disturbed by a kitten, who will likely be filled with energy and want to jump around and play. A younger cat, on the other hand, may be more likely to adapt to her new roommate. Ultimately, deciding between a kitten and an adult cat may be based more on your current cat than on your current wants or needs.
2. How social is your cat? By nature, cats aren’t terribly sociable. They can get by on their own and generally don’t need or want company. On the other hand, cats can live together in harmony. Don’t assume that adding one cat to your existing cat will automatically provide social and environmental enrichment. This is also true for multiple cats — just because you have two (or more) cats who already get along, that does’t mean they’ll welcome another with open paws. Problems between cats will often settle on their own, and sometimes relationships between cats positively blossom, but some cats will simply never get along. You can never truly know if cats will mesh, but if you gradually introduce the new member of the family, you can eventually have a unified, happy home.
3. Can you afford another cat? You can’t really put a price on adding a new member to your clan, but you can put a price on all the food, vet bills, kitty litter, toys, and treats that you’ll be purchasing for your new cat over her lifespan. It’s totally worth it, but adding another cat is a major investment. And we all know cats love to be spoiled. Not that you need to lavish your cat with diamond-studded collars and crystal food bowls, but if you don’t think you can keep up with regular deworming treatments, parasite protection, and vaccinations, let alone treats, toys, and luxury items, then you need to think twice. Another thing to consider is whether or not she’ll be an indoor cat or an outdoor cat. Outdoor cats have an estimated average life span of 5 years, with a total estimated lifetime cost of $2,445 to $4,150. Indoor cats on the other hand, have an estimated average life span of 16 years, with $8,620 to $11,275 of lifetime costs.
4. Do you have the space for another cat? With a natural need for warmth and protection, cats love feeling snug and protected in smaller, confined places. But that doesn’t mean you can just tuck a bed, box, or hideaway in the corner and expect your cat to be content. You’ll need space for her food, water, litter box, toys, scratching post, and other belongings, and if she’s an indoor cat, you’ll want to have some play space as well. And, again, your existing cat may not be too keen on sharing her space. On top of that, cats need visual stimulation. A screened-in porch is ideal, but if you don’t have that, easily-accessible windows will do.
5. Where will you find your new cat? There’s a big difference between choosing a cat from a breeder and picking one out at the shelter. While it may be “love at first sight” between you and your new kitty, you can’t predict how she will act once she is away from her former environment. When you adopt from a shelter, you probably won’t know anything about the cat’s genetic legacy, or her early life experiences. When you acquire a purebred cat, the chances are that you will be getting her from a breeder and she will be young, so you’ll know more about her parents’ temperaments and conditions.