ULTI-CAT HOUSEHOLDS – THE PROS AND CONS I want to get a cat but someone told me I should get two together – is this true? Cats were once considered to be solitary creatures but, while there are some solitary aspects to their behavioural patterns, we now know that, although there may be individual differences, they are in fact social animals who benefit from interaction with their own and other species. As a result of this knowledge there has been a move to promote ownership of more than one cat, and in particular to encourage owners to take on two cats at the same time. This can be beneficial as the cats play together and provide each other with both physical and mental stimulation. If you are taking on more than one kitten it is certainly better to consider taking on two. You can raise young kittens from different litters, provided that you take them on at a very early age, preferably before they are seven weeks old. Adopting two slightly older kittens may work out, but the general rule is that the younger the kittens are when brought together, the more easily they will accept each other as part of their social group.
~~~If I already have a single cat, should I consider getting another cat to keep it company? If your cat is an adult and is established within your home as the only cat, then you should think carefully about introducing another feline. The majority of cats are hostile to other felines, if they are not related, and there is certainly no guarantee that your cat will thank you for its new playmate. However, some cats, if they have been sufficiently socialized to other cats or are particularly sociable (genetically) do benefit enormously from feline company. Therefore, the decision has to be made on a caseby- case basis. If your cat has been seen in the company of other cats without excessive fear or aggression, it may be possible to integrate a new cat into the household.
An easy-going cat may accept most other cats, while a timid and shy cat may be reluctant to accept another cat, depending on the new cat’s personality. An active and assertive cat may overwhelm quieter and more timid cats, making introductions difficult. Attempting to match personality types may be useful when seeking out another companion for your cat. When you are introducing a second feline you need to remember that they need to establish their own space within the home. It might be best therefore to provide the new cat with a separate housing area and slowly integrate the cats during times when they are likely to be occupied, distracted or enjoying themselves (such as feeding, play or treat times).
Key resources such as food, shelter and social interaction need to be available in sufficient amounts to ensure that there is no unnecessary conflict. It is sensible to space these resources around the home to minimise the need to share them directly. Increasing the amount of available space within the home can be achieved by making use of three dimensional features of the house by adding furniture and shelving which allow the cats to make use of vertical as well as horizontal space. If problems arise, an extended period of separation followed by a very gradual re-introduction, perhaps accompanied by the use of pheromones and/or drugs, might need to be considered. Reading their body language will be a tremendous help.
~~~Is it cruel to keep a cat as a single pet? Although cats are social creatures, they are ultimately solitary survivors. Cats can live alone perfectly happily, and, provided that they have sufficient supply of safe territory, food and affection from their owners, they will survive very well. This does not mean that they would not benefit from the presence of another cat, but it does mean that cats who are used to living alone are not likely to be suffering as a result. You will know best if your existing cat would like the company of another feline.
Back in August, Dogs Deserve Better rescued a senior dog, Mo, who had been living on a chain in isolation for nearly all of his ten years. This sweet dog had never been loved as part of a family, or given a proper diet or veterinary care. When our rescuers found him, Mo was covered in fleas and moaning in discomfort; he had become anemic and developed a severe allergic reaction to the flea bites, losing large chunks of his coat and a lot of weight too. He was barely hanging on, and living without shelter during the peak heat of summer.
One of our South Carolina volunteers, Alicia Schwartz, had been in contact with Mo’s family and took action. Their local DDB team had supported Mo’s family over the years, getting him neutered through a local spay and neuter clinic, and helping the family with food and shelter when times were tough. They even built a fence next to the home for Mo, in an effort to get him off the chain and have him more connected to the family. Several months later, they returned to find the fence removed and Mo in really bad shape, once again tethered to a tree. Thankfully, with some pleading, Mo’s owners finally agreed to surrender him to DDB, ending his life of suffering.
After few nights of critical care at the animal hospital, Mo went to his foster home. Dogs who have been chained and isolated most of their lives often need time to transition to home life. They haven’t had a normal bond or relationship with humans, or experienced being a member of a family, but we quickly discovered that even after the years of abandonment, Mo was still a sweet, lovable dog who adored people.
Mo quickly transitioned to his new life and really blossomed in his foster home, receiving plenty of TLC from his foster mom, Chris. He put on weight, and with a healthy diet and daily walks, his coat began to fill in, and he became the active, playful dog he was always meant to be. During his time with her, Chris discovered Mo’s passion for squeaky toys and playing fetch, and his love for exploring on their walks, rolling around in the grass, and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. It was a remarkable recovery made possible through the loving care of his foster mom.
As a senior dog who had lived outdoors for so many years without any flea and tick preventative, it was no surprise that Mo was heartworm positive. He was also a senior and has a black coat, all factors that made his adoption even less likely. Mo was in foster care for about four months when we received an application from Brenda that sounded ideal.
Brenda had adopted a senior Lab in the past, who had also lived on a chain most of his life, and knew what to expect. She knew she wanted to adopt another deserving senior, and when Brenda met Mo it was love at first sight. With Brenda, Mo not only found his new home, but he got an incredible mom who adores him and takes him to work with her every day, a new pup sister, Phoebe, who has become his best friend, and a huge back yard to romp and play in.
After Mo’s first night home, Brenda sent us this note:
I am so happy with Mo!!! He is absolutely a sweetheart!!! I am so blessed to be the one who finally gives him a home with warmth, freedom, and love!…[I] would love for others to know the joy of adopting a senior…Mo is totally happy and so active, everybody that sees him thinks he’s a puppy (except for the gray whiskers!). I think he dances when he walks as he just prances and bounces along.
We are so happy for Mo and excited that after ten long, hard years, he’s finally found peace and comfort in a loving home. We’re thankful for people like Brenda who will give a senior dog the love they deserve, and a comfortable home to live out their golden years. We are thankful for our rescue partners in SC who stayed committed to Mo and secured his release, and to his foster mom, Chris, who helped him make an easy transition to home life.
We need more foster moms like Chris to help us continue to save deserving dogs like Mo. Fostering is the foundation of our rescue, and our foster families are indispensable assets who are just regular people who generously open their homes to provide a roof and some TLC to save these dogs’ lives. We can only save as many dogs as we have foster families to take them in, and any foster family will tell you that fostering is a rewarding experience that has a tangible, direct impact on saving a dog’s life.
Chewy is a gorgeous young Shepherd-Husky mix, and a naturally social dog who is great with kids, other dogs, and cats too. At only eleven months old, he’s still filling out his 60 pound frame, but he is a handsome boy with striking bi-color eyes, a beautiful coat, and an athletic build. Chewy is a star at the local dog park, with his goofy, playful, puppy-like demeanor, and he loves to play fetch and run around with the other dogs. He’s also a big fan of soft, fluffy toys and loves to snuggle up with them when he’s sleeping. He needs an active home and plenty of exercise, but he can also just hang out on the couch with you when it’s time to relax.
Chewy was the casualty of an adoption that never should have taken place. He was originally adopted by a family who loved him, but weren’t prepared for the commitment of taking care of a large, active puppy who needs regular physical activity. They had toddlers in the home, worked long hours, and lived a sedentary lifestyle, and found themselves in over their heads. Thankfully, they wanted to do right by Chewy and called Dogs Deserve Better for help. We quickly understood that Chewy was a sweet, loving dog that was just not the right fit for this family, so we brought him into the rescue.
Our goal now is to find a match for sweet Chewy. He’s a great dog who will make an awesome companion, but he needs someone who will be committed to regular daily walks and playtime, and a flexible schedule to dedicate quality time to settling him in. His new family should love exploring the outdoors, because he will be an excellent running partner and hiking buddy too.
In foster care, we’ve discovered that Chewy has some separation anxiety that he still needs to work through. He gets anxious in the crate when left alone, and has been known to chew on a shoe or two to calm his nerves at home by himself. We have brought in a trainer to work with his foster family, and they are doing daily desensitization exercises around the crate and seeing improvement, and he will need an owner who will see this training through so he can stay happy and calm in any situation.
When someone is home, Chewy is the perfect dog, and his foster family gives him free roam of the house day and night. Chewy is housetrained and very smart, and he just needs someone who will make sure he gets the proper exercise and training he needs to reach his full potential. Dogs Deserve Better will provide an initial session with the trainer who has been working with Chewy to help get him settled in to his new home.
Chewy is a really special dog in every way. He has a gentle nature and learns quickly, he’s social, affectionate and will make a loyal addition to your family. We think having another young, playful dog in the family would be ideal and may even help address any remaining separation anxiety. Chewy has a submissive, tentative nature, and with the time, attention, and some stability, he will be a fantastic family dog.