Single Cat. How do I bring in a Second cat?
I want my single cat to have some company. How do I bring in a second cat?
Often, we get cats as “friends” for our existing cat because we feel guilty about being gone many hours a day, or because we want another cat. My best guess is that he’s not sitting at home wishing he had company. That said, if you think your cat would benefit, it’s your call. Just make sure your decision is based on your pet’s needs, not yours. Getting a new cat can be a great thing if you have realistic expectations. Hoping they’ll end up cuddling, grooming each other, and playing with toys together is setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, look at it like this: Simply having two (or more) cats who can share space successfully is a good outcome!
Starting them off on the right foot is very important – so much so that I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to it in my new book. Seek to match your first cat’s personality and energy level, and introduce the new cat slowly with a “base camp” – a room you keep the other cat out of – complete with food, water, and a litter box. Then, once she’s comfortable there, try “site swapping” – stick your first cat in the bathroom while you let the new cat out. When the coast is clear, put your first cat in the base camp room. This shuffling will help them acclimate to each other’s smells.
Simultaneously, follow the other part of the plan: using food to get the two to make a positive association with each other. It could take three days or three weeks – cats are all individuals! Instead of leaving food out 24/7, feed them only at mealtimes, on either side of the same door. Each day, move the bowls closer to the door, so eventually, they’ll smell each other and associate that smell with being fed. If they’re both eating calmly with the bowls right up against the door, open it a crack. Should they go from carefully watching each other to stalking or even fighting, put them back on opposite sides of the door and work up to visual access again gradually? You’re building to a lifetime of positive associations.
The holidays make me feel worse about being sad. What can help? There are ways to get through this. Exercise, such as yoga, can be calming. Consider taking a social media hiatus till after New Year’s (but know: people’s holiday “perfection” on Instagram isn’t reality). And writing down a few things you’re grateful for before bed helps you wake up in a better mood. But one of the best strategies is to try to bring joy to others. Consider who in your life needs support and check in with them, or volunteer. Recognizing what you have to offer can drastically change your mindset, as can the simple powers of conversation and human interaction. If your sadness lingers longer than a week or two, look into therapy – and if your thoughts turn to suicide, seek help immediately.