Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My name is Todd! I am a short-haired 1.5-year-old fixed male kitty. My mom adopted me from the local shelter about six months ago. She loves me sooooo much! She does research whenever I do something she thinks is odd, she makes sure I am healthy, and she takes me on play dates too! (I looove playing with other people and other kitties, but for the most part it’s just me and mom.)
Anyway, she was wondering a few things, so I thought I’d do some of the work for her since she takes care of me so well. I follow her around. A lot! I’m always in the same room with her, and never far away. When she’s sleeping, I’m there. When she’s watching a movie box, I watch with her. And even when she is doing that thing with all the water on her head *shudder* I am not far away. Even when she goes to her litter box, I follow her and show her all my affection! Is this normal for a kitty? Mom says she has known dogs to do this, but — I’m proud to say — I am her very first cat, so all this is new to her. Am I so close to her because it’s just her and me? If she were to ever get a human roommate, or if she were to get me a kitty friend, would I not do this so much? Most of all, mom just wants to know why I act this way.
~Todd (and my mom, Becky)
Siouxsie: First of all, Todd, let us congratulate you on making such a wise choice when you adopted your mom. It’s clear that she’s been very, very good to you and she’s doing everything a cat caretaker is supposed to do … and more!
Thomas: Your level of attachment to your human is more common than a lot of people think. Cats’ temperaments vary vastly. Some cats are quite standoffish and may not even care to be petted all that much, while some cats (like you and me) really enjoy human company and share it every moment we can.
Dahlia: Oh, me too! I chaperone Mama in the bathroom and make sure she brushes her teeth properly, I sleep next to her in bed, I jump on the desk and poke her sleeve when I want her to stop working on the computer and pet me, and everything. I don’t stay in the bathroom when she’s in the rainbox, though! *shudder*
Siouxsie: I’m sitting on Mama’s lap right now and supervising her as she types this column for us, so there!
Thomas: In essence, what we’re telling you is that neither you nor your mom need to worry that your behavior is evidence of something wrong.
Dahlia: The only problem you might have is if your mom goes away for a while on a vacation or a business trip and she can’t take you with her. Because you’re the only cat in the house and you’re so closely bonded with your mom, you may get really depressed and lonely if she leaves.
Siouxsie: Sometimes super-bonded cats get so depressed when their people go away that they stop eating, and not eating could make you very sick. Some humans refer to a super-bonded cat as “dependent and needy,” although we find it quite insulting that some misguided people would think of our choice to remain near you as some sort of pathology!
Thomas: It might be a good idea for your mom to adopt a kitty friend for you. That way you can have a playmate and snuggle buddy, even if your mom isn’t around.
Dahlia: Judging from the fact that your mom takes you on play dates, it sounds like you get along very well with other cats and other people. You might find it’s a lot of fun to have a feline friend at home. I know I love to snuggle with Thomas when Mama’s not around … and sometimes even when she is! When we snuggle, it makes Mama squee and take pictures of us.
Siouxsie: It’s been our experience that a boy cat and a girl cat will get along better together than two girl cats or two boy cats — unless the two cats of the same sex also happen to be littermates –but we think you and your mom will have better luck if she brings a female cat home to stay with you.
Thomas: The way your mom introduces a new cat into your household is going to make a big difference in how easily the introduction goes and how well you’ll get along together in the future. We’ve written several articles on introducing new cats, and the one we’re linking here has links to our previous columns on the subject as well.
Dahlia: We don’t know if your mom is willing or able to adopt another cat at this time, but we do think it will do wonders for your self-confidence. It almost certainly won’t detract from your love for your mom, but we do think it will help you to be happier in the long run. As wonderful as most humans are, Toby, there’s just no substitute for the company of another cat.
Siouxsie: Absolutely! Humans don’t wash your ears and the back of your head and stuff for you, now, do they?
Thomas: And you can’t chase a human around the house in the middle of the night, because they’re busy sleeping! And if you do wake them up in the middle of the night, they tend to be quite grumpy.
Dahlia: And as I said earlier, there’s nothing like a two-cat snuggle or synchronized sunbathing to make everything seem absolutely perfect with the world.
Siouxsie: Please let us know if your mom decides to adopt a friend for you and, if she does, how that goes. If she gets pictures of you snuggling, she can always e-mail them to us.