There appears to be a distinct difference in opinion between animal shelters and cat owners. I’m told that there is an increase in multi-cat homes in the US. I don’t know the percentage of homes in which there are several cats in that country but it must be substantial.
But if you want to foster a cat on behalf of a cat or animal shelter, they will normally insist that you don’t have an existing cat or dog.
Many cat owners think that you can adopt another cat to add to the resident cat group which may be three or four in number. They just fancy adopting another cat and they do it. They don’t see a problem before the problems arise.
But the animal shelters see a problem with this. Take, for example, the renowned Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London, UK. They are always looking for foster carers for their shelter animals. But can you foster on their behalf if you already have a pet cat?
They state that “we are ideally looking for homes with no pets. The types of cats who need fostering generally aren’t that comfortable around other animals.”
They will allow people to foster kittens if they have dogs/cats in the home already but “for smaller animals they would need to be in secure housing away from the foster care”. I don’t understand that but you get the point: Battersea are reluctant to allow people to foster their cat if they live with existing cats or dogs.
They are aware of the problems. I’ve seen this before. And Battersea go on to state that, “Please note that foster homes with existing pets may have to wait longer to have a faster cat as the majority of our cats need pet free homes.”
If you take that on face value, they are more or less stating that multi-cat homes don’t work or they don’t work to their satisfaction.
This brings to mind a story from New York, USA. A woman, Emma Favilla, living there likes to adopt elderly cats. Fantastic. I admire her. But she has had sufficient experience to realise that sometimes it doesn’t work out.
She has existing pets in her two-bedroom apartment. She was able to obtain the agreement of a shelter to adopt a 14-year-old female cat called Mosha on a foster carer basis with the option to adopt.
I like that idea. You get the shelter to agree to allow you to take the cat home as a foster carer and if it works out within your multi-pet family then you can keep the cat. It’s a kind of trial period. Suck and see. But I don’t think many or hardly any shelters allow this.
In her case, she found that Mosha simply couldn’t settle in to her new home. Despite all the usual slow introductions she found that Mosha was determined to murder her 60-pound dog and had two other senior cats as quickly as possible, she said.
She also said that she has introduced at least 12 cats to one another over the past 30 years. She has lots of experience of cat introductions and therefore she knows the dangers and the signs.
And in this instance, it was clear to her that Mosha would never settle in so she rehomed her with her parents in the apartment below hers!
A neat solution but one which tells us quite clearly that introducing a new cat to a resident cat or cats is problematic. Although, many people manage successfully to have several cats. Some people think there should be a limit of about six.
A colleague of mine, Elisa, has always lived with several cats. She appears to manage things very well. The problem is that in a multi-cat home where the cats are normally full-time indoor cats, stresses can build up between the cats. You are creating an unnatural environment for them. You have to admit that.
Their home range is minuscule and although the domestic cat today is far more social than they were when they were first domesticated, they are still innately solitary creatures. You have to bend that natural personality into agreeing to live very closely with other cats. You might be lucky and they might get along or they might at least accept each other but I have real doubts about it.
Sometimes great friendships develop but often they tolerate each other. This might be considered a success but is it good enough?