Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I recently moved from my family home to my first apartment (a very small 1-bedroom) with my 3-year-old declawed (not my choice!) female kitty. There are lots of nice windows for her to watch the birds, but there’s not much room to run around and she doesn’t have the company she’s used to. I’m a student, and while I’m not gone a lot right now, when the fall comes I won’t be home much.
She adapted to the move very well, but I can tell she’s a bit lonely. I schedule playtime with her into my day, but I still think she’s not getting enough exercise. I’m considering adopting a kitten in order to keep my cat company. The thing is, my cat has never had other cats around, and I don’t have an extra room where I could keep the kitten for a “proper” introduction. Also, would it be fair to bring a kitten into a small apartment? I’m against declawing cats, so I would NOT have this kitten declawed — but when the kitten got big, would it be dangerous to have one cat with claws and one without?
Basically, do you think I should adopt a kitten or not, and if so, what would be the best possible way to do it for both my current cat and the new kitty?
Siouxsie: Well, Laura, it’s hard to tell how your current feline resident will react to another cat. Given the fact that she’s used to having lots of other kinds of company, she may enjoy having a kitty friend. We don’t think it’s a bad idea to try adopting another cat, but you need to be prepared for the fact that it may not turn out quite as well as you’d hoped. We’ll give you some tips to help the adoption go as smoothly as possible.
Thomas: First of all, we don’t think it’s unfair to bring a kitten into a small apartment. No matter how small your place is, it’s bigger and nicer than a cage in an animal shelter!
Dahlia: Speaking of animal shelters, we highly recommend that you adopt from a shelter. Most rescues will give you a seven-day grace period so you can find out whether the adoption is going to work out well for you and for the kitten. If for some reason things go badly, you can bring the cat back to the shelter.
Siouxsie: You don’t have to adopt a very young kitten, either. You can try for a kitten that’s between six months and one year old instead. By that point they’ve gone through most of their curtain-climbing, trouble-making “kitten crazies.”
Thomas: Anecdotal evidence suggests that getting a younger cat of the opposite sex tends to work out best. Speaking personally, I just fell in love with Dahlia the minute she popped her head out of her carrier and we’ve been best buddies ever since.
Dahlia: We lived in a very small place at the time — it was just one room, about 12 feet by 30 feet in size — and there were no issues at all. Sometimes adoptions just go really well.
Siouxsie: Speak for yourself!
Thomas: Anyway, Laura, here’s how to prepare for the adoption. Get another litter box and separate food and water dishes for the new kitten. You’ll want to feed the kitten a few feet away from your current resident, and by providing the kitten with her own dishes and toilet you’ll reduce the risk of territorial disputes.
Dahlia: Buy a Feliway plug-in diffuser. The “happy cat” pheromones it releases will reduce stress in both cats and make it easier for them to get used to each other.
Siouxsie: It’ll help if the kitten you adopt has a temperament similar to that of your adult cat. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how a kitten’s personality is going to develop. You will have a better sense of that if you try for an older kitten or a young adult (1 year old or so).
Thomas: Let your current cat check out the new cat while he’s still in the carrier. Don’t be surprised if there’s some growling. When your cat completes her investigations and has calmed down a bit, open the door of the carrier and let the kitten out. Show him the litter box right away because he’ll probably need to use it.
Dahlia: Leave the carrier out with the door open in case the kitten feels like he needs a safe space.
Siouxsie: As long as the growling doesn’t escalate into yowling and hissing and (heaven forbid) fur-flying fights, everything will probably work out all right. This is particularly true if the cats have come to some sort of truce, or perhaps even a loving relationship, within that one-week grace period.
Thomas: You can help the cats to develop a positive relationship by playing with both of them at the same time
Dahlia: Keep an eye out for signs of stress by observing the cats’ body language. If you hear growling or you see one of the cats stalking or too-intently observing the other, distract them by playing “separately together” with them (e.g., use two string toys, one for each cat) so they begin to associate fun times and happiness with the other cat.
Siouxsie: Make sure your cats have plenty of vertical space — tall cat trees, window seats, or specially designated shelves — because that will make the territory (your apartment) seem larger and reduce the cats’ stress. And once your cats are getting along well, the fact that the younger cat has claws and the older one doesn’t — won’t be a problem at all.
Thomas: The odds are pretty good that all will go well. But if they don’t, you need to think of your original cat’s needs first. If that means re-homing the kitten, that’s what you’ll have to do.
Dahlia: It’s a good idea to get all this cat introduction business out of the way before you start school; if the cats are going to live together, you want to be sure they’re comfortable with the arrangement before you get buried in your course work and the social life of a student.
Thank you so much for addressing the problem of introducing two cats in a one-room apartment! Back when I lived in one, I couldn’t find any advice that didn’t include having a separate room for each cat.
Do it! I wz on my own fur nurrly 4 years, den hoomans got me BettyBlue kitteh… I love hur and she finks I hur mumma! It stopped me frum being lonely when my murm when bak to wurk. We lived in a unit and it waz fine. I say go fur it, make yr kitty happy with a baby of hur own. Isa xox
You also might consider adopting an adult cat. For me it worked out well because I’m a student and not home much and I needed cats that were fairly calm and laid back for the time I am at home. I’ve adopted two adult male cats, and after an adjustment period, they’ve done marvelously well together.
Also, one of my cats is declawed (not my choice either) and the other has his claws, and it’s not a problem at all. They playfight all the time and neither one has ever been injured. In fact, the declawed cat is the one in charge.
Thanks so much for answering my question, and the helpful comments! I’ve got a huge, home-made cat tree, so hopefully that will give enough vertical space, (it takes up most of my bedroom!). My older cat is pretty calm, a little shy, and not at all aggressive, so I’m hoping that things go well. I’ll probably find her a little brother in the next few weeks, well before school starts. I actually have a back-up home all figured out already – my parents said they would be happy to take the kitten if my cat just refuses to accept him, since they miss having a cat around the house. Thanks again!
I have 2 male cats. I had my first one 1 year, then decided to get him a friend, since he was so friendly to everyone, seemed open to other animals, and seemed a bit lonely as well for animal company. So we chose to adopt another male kitten, about 2-3 months old. I kept them in separate rooms for about 1 week, and would have visiting time where I would put up a baby gate, and I blocked the upper space of the door with some foam-core board or card board. There was definitely hissing and growling from my current cat. The new cat was very easy going, and had been with dogs and other cats in the foster home. During this time, I also kept switching out towels and other things that had their scents on them (I would rub a towel all over them, then place it in the other cats area). I also have the Feli-way diffusers as well. You might consider some rescue remedy as well? So, after a week of this (and also observing the new kitten to make sure there were no major health issues), I brought him out in the carrier, and let me current cat sniff and observe. Then finally, I opened the carrier door. The new kitten came out, and they slowly observed each other. Then my cat went up and was biting the skin behind his neck (maybe a dominance thing to let him know that he was the boss?) This went on for awhile, but the kitten wasn’t making any sounds so I figured it wasn’t hurting him. Then they kept pouncing on each other, which worried me, but then I realized that they were playing. They are best friends now. Of course, they have their moments when they get in little spats, but who doesn’t. For like 90% of the time they are great…playing, snuggling, grooming each other. I have 4 litter boxes, and separate food bowls, but they tend to share them all. And since then, we have also adopted a dog. I searched for 2 months, and my biggest concern was finding a dog that I knew was already good with cats. We finally found one in a foster home, and I was able to observe her around the other dogs in the home, as well as cats and kids. Everything turned out great It took my first cat about a year, to finally be friendly to her (and he is still the boss of them all), but they are all doing well. He still gets moody with her once in awhile, and smacks her in the face (doesn’t put his claws out though); I guess he just has to remind her once in awhile that he is the boss. Oh yeah, both cats have their claws and there has never been any issues with them or the dog. Now, my oldest cat is 4, my other cat 3, and my dog 3.
Good luck! It will turn out great! And yes, please adopt :)
hey everyone. have a situation. approx. 2 1/2 yrs ago when we moved, our neighbor asked if we could adopt 1 of the cats in the area. there were 7 or 8 at the time. although my wife is very allergic she oked it. the kitty named jasmine came with us. she is very cute and she is a small adult. we have a large enclosed patio with an office attachec to it so she would be safe and warm. shortly after our move. she got out and as bad luck would have it, she got pregnant. now we have 4 total. 2 female and 2 male. currently they are all fixed and have had their shots. now that their are 4, it is to much for my wife. she has tried different drugs but to no avail. even though they are not in the main house, she is still very affected. we live in upland, ca. we are trying to find good homes for them. it has been hard. i have heard stories about people getting cats and dogs and selling them to testing sites. i can’t believe that. one of our friends suggested finding sites like this one on the internet. can u help, tony
I have had my long haired neutered male cat named Peewee since he was 9 weeks old. I’m on disability, but when I go out for a while, I feel extremely because if I come home around 5 and it’s already dark, he greets me at the door and his dry food is still in his bowl. He will then start eating as long as I’m here. He’ll be 7 in February and I’ve been thinking a lot about adopting another long haired kitten, but not a baby. I’ve been given different advice. One woman told me to definitely get him a male because females tend to get very territorial and my vet told me to get him a female because she said if the kitten is a male, they’ll fight. What should I do?
I have numerous cats that have been domesticated. I am looking for a good home for them. Individually of course. Do you have any suggestions?
i took a feral cat off the street. it was wild as hell, until i fed it/gave it clean water. been a happy kitty ever since. same should be true for you, with or without another cat already present. i disagree with adopting from shelters, because those cats already have homes, albeit crappy ones. ferals on the street have a lifespan of less than 3 years on average, rescue the unrescued first, it’s wjwd.