Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have two cats adopted from a shelter a year ago when they were kittens, and as kittens do, they used to play fight a lot and cuddle. They’re brother and sister (fixed very early on), and the staff at the shelter were so glad I took them both because as they put it, they’re ‘inseparable.’ Unfortunately, things have changed. Now they each get all of their affection from me, separately. They respect each other and seem to genuinely care about each other, but keep their distance from each other when sleeping or lounging. However they’re usually in the same room — wherever I happen to be. They investigate things together. He lets her finish his plate whenever I give them tuna and shrimp as a treat, because he’s just not as gluttonous and probably also just to be nice (even though he’s stronger). But when I’m petting one and the other jumps next to us, invariably the first one wants to leave. Why can’t they cuddle sometimes? Most importantly, what can I do to encourage closeness between them?
I’m thinking of getting a third cat in the hope that at least one of them can make a new best friend and cuddle time with their own species. Is that a good idea? How would I go about introducing a new cat in our home?
Siouxsie: Caroline, this gradual moving apart is perfectly normal behavior for cats as they grow out of kittenhood and into adolescence.
Thomas: Since they still like each other, even if they don’t snuggle together constantly, we’d say it would be a bad idea to add another cat into the equation.
Dahlia: It can be tricky to add a third cat, and it could result in a disruption that makes all the cats unhappy.
Siouxsie: Cats don’t need to snuggle with other cats to feel at peace with their world. Sure, some cats enjoy it more than others …
Thomas: Like Dahlia and me! We love to snuggle together and groom each other.
Dahlia: Yeah. And Thomas is such an excellent cheek and ear groomer. He knows all the right spots …
Siouxsie: Can it, Shrimpy.
Dahlia: I’m not shrimpy anymore! I’m only a quarter-pound smaller than you! And I’ve got really sharp claws, and I know how to use them!
Thomas: Come on, you two …
Siouxsie: Fine! Anyway, as I was saying, not all adult cats find pleasure in snuggling with other cats. When I was a tiny baby kitten, I used to snuggle with my late sister Sinéad (may she frolic forever in the mouse-filled catnip fields beyond the Bridge), but as we got bigger, we just found that we enjoyed snuggling with Mama more. It wasn’t because we hated each other, and neither of us was unhappy about not being snuggle-buddies anymore. It’s just the way things went.
Thomas: It’s true. Even though they didn’t cuddle together anymore, they loved each other right to the end. Siouxsie spent a lot of time mourning when Sinéad crossed the Bridge. After all, they were littermates and they’d spent 10 years together.
Dahlia: If you want to try introducing a new cat, you’ll need to take it slow and find out how your current residents feel about having a friend in the house. We’d recommend that if you bring home a new cat, you might want to try adopting one that’s a little younger than the cats you have right now. Make sure your new cat is similar in temperament to your current cats, too. Mellow cats don’t tend to enjoy the company of outgoing, rambunctious cats.
Siouxsie: Shelters usually offer a one-week foster period so that if the current residents don’t get along with your adoptee, you can bring the new kitty back to the shelter.
Thomas: Some time ago, we wrote a column on how to introduce a new cat. Our booklet, The Paws and Effect Guide to Introducing a New Cat, also has detailed instructions on how to add a cat to your household in a way that works well for all the cats involved.
Dahlia: Keep in mind, too, that your cats are in the adolescent phase of their lives. They’ve still got a year or two before they reach social maturity — by which we mean, they’ve developed their full adult personalities. As time passes, they might come to enjoy snuggling together again.
Siouxsie: And as we said, it’s really okay if that doesn’t happen. Some cats are lifelong snugglers — like Thomas and Dahlia — and some just don’t snuggle with other cats once they grow up — like me.
Thomas: Good luck, Caroline. Please let us know how things turn out, whether or not you choose to adopt another cat.