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Adding Another Cat to Your Home

Expert help to ensure all of your cats get along.

Deciding to Add a Kitten or an Adult Cat

Older cats tend to be more territorial.

Experts often recommend pairing adult cats with kittens so the older cat can teach the kitten as it grows. “Kittens mature into better adjusted adult cats if they receive the proper behavioral cues from another cat or dominant figure (you)," says Los Angeles vet Patrick Mahaney, VMD.

Some experts, such as Pellicano, feel differently. “It just isn't fair to the elder cat who deserves all the quality time he has earned with his person," Pellicano says.

If a cat has always been shy, bringing a frisky new kitten home might have a negative effect.

"It is better to match energy levels of the cats," rather than focusing on age, Guerrero says.

Consult your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist about the cat match that’s right for your household.

What You Can Do to Help the Cats Get Along

It's up to you to structure the environment and set the groundwork for your cats to live a long, happy life, coexisting in harmony.

Guerrero says it's best to integrate slowly and stay out of the way. “Unless you fear injury, it is critical not to interfere because the cats need to sort things out without humans complicating matters.”

If fights erupt, Guerrero suggests squirting water at the cats’ faces to break up the scuffle -- but only from a safe distance. Never try forcing them together to get along.

When Another Cat Is a Bad Idea

Experts agree you shouldn't get another cat when:

  • Your first cat is much older, sick, or antisocial with other animals or people
  • Your finances are unstable
  • You don't have quality time to care for the added cat
  • You can't maintain proper sanitation and cleanliness
  • There is no one to cat sit for vacations or emergencies

Adding another cat can be fun and enjoyable. But you should avoid the experience if you aren’t ready for the responsibilities required to care for another life.

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Reviewed on September 03, 2010

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