I believe that some cats who live alone with their owner are ready for a feline friend. They want a cat companion. The human is fine and very useful; indeed functional as the human brings in the bacon and all the things that a domestic cat needs but for some cats there is one thing missing: a feline friend. It is perhaps strange to say that because we think of the domestic cat as solitary. But it is no longer true to think this way. The domestic cat has become quite sociable.
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And there is also this instinctive mothering drive in adult female cats. In colonies, female feral cats help each other raise their kittens. It looks like altruism but it is more like supporting the family which aids survival.
If you add a kitten to the home where there is a resident cat what might happen? If the resident adult is female there is a good chance that it will work out fine if the newcomer is a kitten, even a kitten who is unrelated. A related kitten is possibly the best combination. The Reddit photo is a good example. The user who uploaded the photo said that the calico kitten was adopted three days ago. They bonded really quickly. They are unrelated as far as I know.
Is this the best way to introduce a new cat into the home: female resident cat and new kitten? Is that combination more likely to work? I think so. There is certainly more of chance than bringing a new male adult into the home where there is a resident male adult. Perhaps a possible downside of the adult female and kitten newcomer pairing is that a senior cat might become stressed by a kitten but I think not to be honest.
Males are more territorial; more likely to be antagonistic towards newcomers. I am not discussing the varied methods of acclimatising a new cat to a new home. Or avoiding aggression from the resident cat. There must be a plan A and a plan B for introducing a new cat to the home where there is a resident cat.
And I believe a newcomer who is young and female is better, and better still if the resident is a female adult. I’d call that plan A.
Plan B would be two elderly adult females perhaps or two siblings but when siblings grow up they become independent and can fight. It goes without saying that if a shelter is caring for two cats who demonstrably get along in the shelter the solution is to adopt them both into a home where there are no cats. That should result in an instantly successful multi-cat home.
Plans C and D might be a neutered male with a female or two females.
Every cat ‘expert’ would say that two cats are usually better than one and better than three. But the proviso is that they must get along otherwise one cat is better than two.
And this is the big barrier: making sure the cats get along from the get go. If they don’t you are left with catch up: trying to get them to at least accept each other. This is second best. This is not enhancing the life of the resident cat but making it worse. And all adoptions of second cats should be for the benefit of the cat not the person, shouldn’t it? A lofty ideal but I think it is a fair comment.
The size of the home is a factor too. Is the home big enough to accommodate two cats? Cats need their own territory, called their home range. They accept home ranges that are far smaller than is natural in multi-cat homes. But they are adaptable. For indoor/outdoor cats the ability to go outside greatly extends the available space so each cat can find their home range. For full-time indoor cats they will have about half a house or apartment to call their own. That is a potential for stress. And stress can lead to antagonism. Space is important and a factor in achieve success and harmony in the multi-cat home.
They say that there is a 7 year rule. This means adopting a new cat when the resident is 7 years old. I guess this creates a neat overlap if you continue to adopt.