Most people come in to Tree House looking to add to their feline family with many preconceived notions in tow. Their friends told them, “you should definitely get a kitten companion for Reginald Fluffington, he’ll do much better with someone younger and less intimidating;” whereas their aunt insisted, “you must get a female cat for Mr. Fluffington, as another male cat in the home will lead to constant territorial disputes.” Meanwhile your coworker might explain that female cats cannot get along with any cat companions at all, and prefer to fly solo. Then a neighbor probably decides to chime in with advice that contradicts all the above. So what’s the right answer? How do you know which cat companion will be right for your current feline friend? Let’s see if we can give you some insight and ponder points on this topic that may help steer you in the right direction.
First, might we suggest you take time to consider what your own cat is like. Has he lived with cats before? If so, how’d that go? What was the previous roommate cat like? How old is your fellow feline now, vs. then? Does he seem to crave play time a lot? At the end of the day, the best way to find the right companion for your cat – just like in your own life – is to look at the personalities, past experiences, and energy levels. While it is sometimes easy to draw conclusions about cat personality based on gender, we find that such conclusions don’t apply across the board. Every cat is unique, whether they are black, blue, big, small, boy, or girl.
I for one am rarely in the right mindset that would enable me to keep up with a four-year-old child for more than an hour – it’s just not in my energy level or interests to do so, and that’s fine! While kittens are stinking adorable and downright fun, consider this: a 3-month-old kitten is like a four-year-old child, and a 10-year-old cat is like a 60-year-old person. Maybe your 60-year-old relative can keep up with your itsy bitsy niece for an afternoon, but is it really fair to lock them away indefinitely with only each other for company? Your 10-year-old cat may certainly like to play from time to time, but a kitten can’t stop playing until she quite literally just falls over. That can be extremely overwhelming! So when looking for a new cat companion for Reginald, be sure to factor in his energy level and age.
Further, an adult cat is much more apt to recognize feline social cues than a kitten. Cats reach what’s considered “social maturity” at around two years of age – up to that point they are still learning what it really means to play, rough house, and coexist with other cats. So a kitten is still testing the waters – how hard to bite, how often to tackle, and how to interpret those hisses and growls when the siblings are tuckered out. Bringing the right, well-mannered, young adult into your home to befriend Mr. Fluffington means that you are introducing a companion that understands what he’s saying with his body language – whether it’s a come hither cuddly look or a back-off growl.
With cats, just as with people, it’s easy to make generalized statements – and we’ve heard them all! Male orange tabbies are always laid back and friendly; torties are sassy and aloof; female cats are never cuddly and prefer to be independent… the list goes on and on. But with every type of cat I’ve met that fits their stereotype, I’ve met two more that completely break the mold. I’ve met shy orange boys, snuggly, sweet and loving torties, and many a cat-loving females.
The primary preconceived notions that I’d like to debunk as blanket statements here are those regarding gender. Any cat that you adopt from a shelter here in Chicago has already been spayed or neutered; thus, these shelter cats are not fertile and do not have those potent doses of hormones coursing through, dictating their behavior. Thus, the most important aspects to look at when deciding what cat will be the perfect companion for yours really are their personality, energy level, and age. In the year plus time that I’ve worked here (which, I realize, truly isn’t that long of a tenure in the rescue community), I’ve seen best friend cat pairs of every shape, size, color, and most importantly – gender. There have been some very adorable boy buddy companions, cute sibling couples, gal pals, and everything in between. I’ve even seen three way grooming sessions here! I will concede that some cats do genuinely have preferences, but overall this has more to do with their personalities than their gender. My oldest boy at home has always loved other dude cats, but that’s mostly because the female cat he’s lived with has always preferred her own kitty space (a space that is generally right on my chest anytime I sit or lay down).
So next time you know someone who is contemplating a new cat companion, be sure to share some appropriate advice: birds of a feather flock together, and everyone knows that birds can fly any direction they please. So don’t put your kitty in a gender box – consider, for their sake, all the avenues. Any Tree House adoption counselor would be happy to discuss what a good companion for you and your feline friend might be, so please don’t hesitate to drop by!
Posted by Samantha A