Pros and Cons of Keeping Cats Indoors Permanently

Cats are known as solitary creatures that enjoy their personal space. However, they can also grow lonely if kept by themselves for hours on end. That’s why many owners consider buying a second cat to keep the first one company. This can be a good decision, but it also has many downsides. You should carefully evaluate your cat’s age, personality, and habits before making reaching a conclusion.

Getting a second cat will help fulfill the original cat’s social needs. The new cat can assist with grooming, learning good eating and toilet habits, staying fit, and playing. However, not all cats benefit from having a companion feline. Older cats may stress kittens, and cats that are equal in age may fight.

It’s best to adopt two cats at the same time. Ideally, they will be from the same litter or previously bonded. If that’s not possible, consider pairing your older cat with a new kitten. If it’s a senior cat, then get two kittens so that they can entertain each other instead of overwhelming your original cat. No matter the case, be sure you have the time and energy to properly introduce the two cats so they don’t get off on the wrong foot. 

Do Cats Do Better In Pairs?

Cats enjoy the company of a second cat as they form close bonds with each other. A bonded pair means that two animals have a close relationship with each other. They come to rely on each other for company, food, and protection from threats. Bonding often happens when cats are very young. That’s why it’s most often seen with littermates, but it can also happen between older cats or non-littermates.

Separating one from the other will be, at best, stressful. At worst, it will be a traumatic experience. It may cause the cat to become depressed or even develop behavioral issues. That is why adoption centers often make it clear when a pair is bonded. It’s ideal for both cats to be kept together.

Nonetheless, not all cats who live together will become a bonded pairs. Sometimes, cats can coexist under one roof. As long as all parties are not stressed by the situation, this is fine.

With that said, if you introduce two new cats to the home at one time, they will likely form a close relationship. In a strange, scary new environment, they will come to rely on each other.

Benefits of Having Two Cats

While felines are perfectly okay as solo pets, there are many advantages to giving your cat a friend. Here are some benefits of adopting two cats instead of just one.

Are Cats Happier In Pairs?

While cats are often thought of as solitary animals, they are actually social creatures. Cats need companionship to keep themselves happy and healthy. When a cat is left alone for too long, it develops behavioral problems such as:

  • Depression
  • Separation anxiety
  • Destructive habits
  • Excessive crying
  • Unwillingness to eat
  • Urinating or defecating in inappropriate places

Being kept alone, or left alone for long stretches of time, subjects a cat to unnecessary stress. According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, researchers noted that 95% of cats that urinated inappropriately did so exclusively on their owner’s bed. It’s thought to be a way for cats to mark a safe place for themselves, as they feel vulnerable without companionship.

What’s more, separation anxiety is more commonly reported in single, indoor cats. Indeed, loneliness is no small thing when it comes to your feline friend.

Are Cats Healthier In Pairs?

While some cats live long, healthy lives by themselves, others suffer immediately from loneliness. Separation anxiety can result in stress on the body, which escalates into many health issues. These include:

  • Hair loss
  • Heart problems
  • Weight gain
  • Behavioral problems like excessive crying and urinating

Are Cats Cleaner In Pairs?

Cats are tidy creatures that observe a strict grooming routine. However, paired cats are even more likely to bathe and clean themselves, as well as their companion.

According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, cats in a litter groomed each other more often than solo cats. With encouragement from a friend and a few extra paws, your cats will keep themselves fresh and tidy.

Furthermore, a second cat will help your pet reach more difficult areas. These tend to be spots that cats rely on their humans to clean for them, like their upper back. Bonded pairs can even create a cleaning routine after play or meals, leading to cleaner, healthier pets.

Do Paired Cats Learn Faster?

Cats learn from mimicking other cats. As kittens, they figure out bite strength, hunting skills, grooming habits, and feeding techniques from their mother and littermates. As adults, cats learn how to socialize and interact based on the actions of older cats.

A second cat will work as an example to your solo cat in your home, and vice versa. If you’re teaching both to use the litter box, whichever picks up the training faster will teach the other. This makes it far easier to own smart, well-behaved cats.

Paired Cats Are Less Picky

Cats also learn healthy behaviors by watching other cats. This includes how they eat, where they eat, and what foods they deem acceptable.

Although felines are known to be picky eaters, one cat may be willing to try a new food before the other. The other will then follow its lead and sample the food. If you’re introducing a new kitten to an older cat, the older cat will ensure it adapts to the meals you offer more quickly.

Can Keep Each Other Active And Entertained

Kittens are active, energetic creatures, and adult cats need physical activity too. While cats are masters at keeping themselves entertained, playing with toys and staring out windows is no match for a playmate.

Most of the time, a cat’s playmate is you. However, some cats, especially really young kittens, have a lot of energy to burn. You may lack the time, attention, or energy to keep up with your little pet. By offering it a companion, even if it’s an older cat, you can ensure the kitten isn’t left bored.

Even adult cats may become destructive and depressed if they’re left bored throughout the day. A companion will fulfill your cat’s need for entertainment and socialization.

do cats do better in pairs?

Cost Of Two Cats vs. One

The expense of keeping one feline is nearly equal to adding a second cat.  As long as your second cat doesn’t have any chronic illnesses or disabilities, the cost should stay fairly the same.

Sure, you’ll have to double your food and your vet check-ups, but all other items can be shared. From beds to toys, to water and food dishes, paired cats won’t mind sharing their things. As a plus, some animal shelters offer a discount for adopting multiple pets.

Is It A Bad Idea To Get A Second Cat?

There are many benefits found in owning two cats, but also disadvantages. Here are reasons why you might not want to adopt a second cat.

Cat Does Not Like Other Cats

All cats are social creatures, and they need companionship. However, some cats are just less sociable than others. This may be due to the cat’s personality or how it was brought up. If your cat is consistently aggressive with others, then it might be unwise to add a new cat to your household.

Cat Is Too Young

If your resident cat is too young, this can present an issue. Adding an older cat will mean that the kitten is no longer the dominant cat, which can be stressful for your kitten.

It works better if your cat is an adult, and you then adopt a younger cat. Adult cats are more likely to accept felines younger than them, especially compared to older felines or ones of the same age.

This is because older cats will maintain their territory and authority far easier than younger cats. A younger cat will be a less threat to them and their environment. The younger cat will be less likely to start a fight, too.

Cat Is Grieving

If your cat is grieving the death of its best friend or sibling, you might consider getting a new cat to fill the void. However, a replacement isn’t the solution.

Like humans, cats grieve too. A mourning cat will be more vocal, lack appetite, or constantly search for its lost loved one. These symptoms are concerning, but introducing a new cat will only add to your feline’s stress. Instead, wait for the symptoms to disappear before adding a new cat to your home.

Don’t Have The Time

If you’re planning to add a new cat to your home, make sure you have the time and energy to do so. Cats need to be properly introduced to one another. There is an integration period that will require your supervision and, in some cases, your intervention.

Tossing two felines into one room and expecting them to get along is dangerous. As such, before you adopt another cat, make sure you have the time to help them become friends.

When Is A Good Time To Get A Second Cat?

Your main objective is to get cats that already know each other, like each other, and depend on each other. This will limit conflict but also ensure they support one another during a stressful transition into your home. As such, the best times to get a second cat are when you can:

  • Get both cats from the same litter.
  • Adopt bonded pairs at adoption centers.
  • Get two very young cats that are ideally no more than seven weeks old.

Of course, that’s not always possible. If you own a cat now, and it needs a companion, you’ll have to introduce it to a brand new friend. In this case, try to:

  • Get a second cat that is much younger than your original cat.
  • Get a cat that’s equal in age to your original cat (if you have the time to integrate it).

As mentioned, an older cat pairs well with a younger, new cat. Cats that are close or equal in age will stay with each other but are more prone to fighting if you don’t properly integrate them. Pairing a young cat with a new old cat may lead to your kitten feeling dominated or frightened.

Of course, any match can work, so long as you have the time to introduce them correctly. Even a bonded pair may grow unruly or upset if they’re left to their own devices in a strange home.

Should My Second Cat Be Male Or Female?

The sex of your cats will play a rather small role in how they get along. Age is a much bigger factor, as well as personality. Nonetheless, it’s good to know what you’ll be up against, depending on what pairing you choose.

Is It Better To Have Two Cats Of The Same Gender?

Unlike some pets, your cat doesn’t have to be paired with a member of its own sex. In fact, females are more likely to fight with females, and unfixed males are very prone to conflict. If both cats are fixed, they can get along fine with the opposite sex.

If you intend on getting a male and female, be sure they’re fixed. That will help you avoid yowling, territory-marking, and unwanted kittens.

Should I Get Two Male Cats?

Two male cats are more likely to get along than two female cats. They can live harmoniously without any conflicts. However, socializing two males can be difficult. If they don’t get along, they won’t just ignore each other. Instead, they will get physical and instigate fights.

That only becomes more common if they aren’t neutered. Such conflicts will be matched to spraying urine, refusing to cover their poop in the litter box, or destroying items within the home.

Should I Get Two Female Cats

A pair of female cats will be less aggressive, but they will vent their frustrations in other ways. This is especially true if they’re unfixed, but females that are spayed still retain much of their personality after the operation.

Aside from being outright hostile, female cats will try to compete for your attention, often by misbehaving. Two competing females will be more likely to bite, scratch, destroy items, mark territory, and be more vocal.

Is It Fair To Get A Kitten With An Old Cat?

Older cats are more likely to accept younger cats into the fold. Just be sure the age difference isn’t too big. For example, cats in their senior years won’t be happy with a new kitten in the house. Simply put, senior cats and kittens have very different needs. A kitten will be:

  • Full of energy
  • Require a lot of physical activity
  • Much louder
  • More rambunctious
  • In need of extra attention

Senior cats will rather have their days be quiet and solemn. They often sleep for longer periods and enjoy a set routine. As such, they will not take kindly to a loud, active kitten in the household.

Stressful For Senior Cats

A new kitten will only stress out a senior cat. The most likely outcome is that the older cat hides from the kitten, preferring to find a quiet place in the house.

At best, your senior cat will not interact with the kitten and get out of its way. At worst, your senior cat might get sick or take the occasional swipe at the kitten.

Frustrating For Kittens

This situation can be stressful for kittens, too. Kittens need engagement and physical activity. Repeatedly being shut out and ignored by another cat can be frustrating, confusing, and lonely.

Adopt Two Kittens Instead

If you have a senior cat and want to adopt a kitten, then the solution is to adopt two kittens instead. As long as your older cat has the necessary space to hide when it’s tired, the kittens will entertain each other and leave the older cat alone. As a plus, the older cat will still teach the youngsters good habits and routines during its limited interactions with them.

Is It Cruel To Have Only One Cat?

Getting a second cat has many benefits. However, you may not have the space, money, time, or energy for a second cat. Is it cruel to leave your feline by itself?

Cats are social creatures, but owning just one is not cruel at all. Instead, your cat will get its socializing from you, its owner. It will view you as its family, relying on you for:

  • Grooming help
  • Social interaction
  • Play time
  • Comfort during stressful moments
  • Love and affection

So long as you can provide the cat with all this, your feline will be perfectly happy. Although a second cat will take the pressure off you, a solo cat won’t suffer. Loneliness hurts the cat, not having your love all to itself.

when is a good time to get a second cat?

How To Introduce Cats To A Household

So, you’ve chosen the perfect cat, based on your cats’ ages and personalities. What comes next? How do you prepare for a second cat? Here are steps for helping both felines adjust to this new addition in the household.

Prepare The Items

Ideally, you should give your cat new items that exclusively belong to it. This will be crucial if you’re introducing two adult cats, especially those close in age. If you’re introducing a kitten to an adult, then new items will help avoid a pecking order for now.

If you’re short on cash, though, your cats are able to share. Just be sure to watch them more closely, as early conflicts may break out until they adjust. The items you will need include:

  • A bed
  • At least one litter box
  • Food bowls
  • Toys

If possible, choose objects that your new cat has already used. This will help your new feline adjust better to an unfamiliar environment. Your original cat will also grow accustomed to the new cat’s smell.

Use A Temporary Room

If possible, choose a temporary room for your new cat and place the items there. This temporary room is where your new feline can retreat to, should your original cat need more time to adjust.

Your original cat should be able to get to the door of this room to smell and investigate. However, don’t let it actually get inside the room, where it could start a fight.

Once again, if you don’t have the space, you can skip this step. Instead, try to place the new cat’s items on the opposite side of your living space so your original cat doesn’t feel threatened. You’ll need to watch more closely and guarantee that each cat gives the other room to breathe.

Calm Your Resident Cat

A calm cat will be more receptive to changes in its environment. Hopefully, you’ll know enough about your cat to understand the most effective way to calm it down. Pheromone sprays and cat-safe scents may help your feline into a peaceful temperament. Brushing your cat, petting, and massages can also help it wind down.

Keeping the house quiet will also go a long way. Introduce the two felines at a time where your resident cat is the most peaceful. This may be after dinner or before bed.

If you’re worried, tweak your cat’s nutrition to promote less anxiety. There are supplements designed to keep a feline calm and should be given weeks before the stressful event. Ingredients for these supplements include:

  • Magnolia
  • Milk proteins
  • L-theanine

Introduce The Two

While holding the new cat, let your original cat sniff it. Place the new cat in its temporary room, allowing it to adjust and explore. Let your original cat smell and investigate, but be sure to supervise. If you can’t keep an eye on them, keep your new cat in its own room. If you’re limited on space, this can even be the bathroom.

Your cats may try to establish a hierarchy. Hissing and swatting are to be expected. You don’t need to intervene as long as the cats maintain their distance. This is how cats establish their boundaries. Over time, they will learn how to compromise, giving and taking boundaries, without aggression.

Allow the cats to explore and get to know each other. Do not force your original cat near the old cat. Allow it to adjust on its own. Be sure to give your original cat lots of attention, too.

Getting a second cat is a rewarding experience, but it also has its downsides. No matter the case, if getting a second cat is not possible, don’t worry. As long as you’re giving your cat enough care and attention, it will be contented.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

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