Leigh Peterson of Stow, Ohio, was cautious when she decided to bring home a second cat. “Charlie, my 14-year-old tabby domestic shorthair, didn’t like animals very much,” she says. “He’s the boss of the house. He had lived with another cat for years, but they only tolerated each other.”
Hoping to have a multicat household, Peterson planned carefully: “I chose a kitten, knowing that Charlie would perceive a cat his own size as more threatening than a kitten,” she says. “I chose a girl since Charlie is a boy, and I looked for a Ragdoll because they have a gentle reputation.”
After a slow and gradual introduction, Charlie grew to accept the newcomer, Aura. Today, they are content living together, sharing nap space and even occasionally playing together.
Many cat-loving families decide to bring in a second cat when their resident reaches his senior years. Yet a successful outcome requires careful consideration.
1. Assess Your Resident Cat’s Condition
Start by making sure your resident cat has had a complete checkup, and discuss your plans with your veterinarian. Certain health issues could impact your cat’s ability to live with a companion. “Ensure that feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus is not present, unless both cats have the diseases. Both [conditions] are contagious and often fatal and can be passed between cats,” says Mara Ratnofsky, DVM, a general medicine practitioner at MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
**Get the September 2011 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**