Other animals often like cats, but the feeling is not always mutual. Cats can be complicated to pair with another pet. Happily, it’s possible to bring additional animals into a cat’s home. You’ll just need to choose the species of a second pet carefully.
Cats sometimes enjoy living with other felines. It depends on how territorial each cat is, and how you manage introductions. Small, quiet dogs can live with cats, as long as the dog displays no alpha tendencies. Cats and rabbits can be friends, if managed well. Avoid small animals as pets if you have cats, though, as hunting instincts can only be restrained for so long.
Good cat companion pets can be hard to find. Ensure your cat is willing to share the home with another animal. You also need a second pet that can coexist with a cat in a harmonious home. Get the balance right, though, and both pets will enjoy constant company.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Do Cats Like To Be The Only Pet?
- 2 Do Cats Like Living with Other Cats?
- 3 What Pets are Compatible with Cats?
- 3.1 Can You Get a Dog if You Have a Cat?
- 3.2 Can Cats and Rabbits Live Together?
- 3.3 Do Cats and Reptiles Get Along?
- 3.4 Can Cats Get Along with Birds?
- 3.5 Small Animals That are Good with Cats
- 3.6 Can I Keep Fish if I Have a Cat?
Do Cats Like To Be The Only Pet?
It can hard to tell if your cat would enjoy the presence of another pet. Despite their reputation, not all cats are loners. Some felines actively enjoy company. All cats are territorial by nature, though. This means a cat will initially react poorly to any infiltrator.
If you wish to adopt a second pet, you must work to get past this. Manage any introductions carefully, slowly and steadily teaching you cat to share. Show the cat that another pet is a fun playmate, not a competitor for resources.
Of course, this is assuming that your cat wants company. Some cats actively prefer being the only pet in a home. This is likeliest in older felines. The cat has its routine set, and it likes things the way they are. Introducing new variables can provoke stress and anxiety.
The most important thing is that your new pet does not detract attention from a cat. If a cat’s routine changes, it will grow distressed. The cat will take this out on the infiltrator in the home. No matter how many pets you may have, your cat’s needs must always be met.
Do Cats Like Living with Other Cats?
If you’re seeking a companion pet for your cat, another feline seems like the obvious solution. You already know how to care for cats, so the learning curve will be minimal. In addition, the animals will speak the same language.
Some cats enjoy like-minded company. As per Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, others are hostile to strange felines. Only you know if your cat would enjoy living with another pet of the same species. Watch how your pet interacts with neighborhood pets.
Most cats will not react well to another feline initially. Kittens are open-minded, but adult and senior cats less so. They do not see a second cat as a playmate and source of fun. They assume the cat aims to steal territory or resources. Sharing does not come naturally to cats.
If you manage the introduction of two cats carefully, they can get along. There are no guarantees. It could be weeks or months before the cat’s bond. It may never happen. You stand a better chance of success by choosing an appropriate cat, though.
Choosing the Right Companion Cat
If you’re looking to pair up your cat with another feline, think ahead. It’s not as simple as just coming home from the shelter with a new pet. You need to ensure the two cats are compatible. This means taking a range of factors into consideration.
The first step is choosing a compatible breed to your existing cat. The two felines do not need to be an identical breed, though this helps. It means that both cats will likely use the same body language and vocal cues.
If your cat is individualistic, avoid overtly affectionate breeds. These cats will be keen to make friends with a resident pet. Too keen, in some cases. If your cat is unhappy with sharing the home, it will be aggressive and dominant.
Overall, breed should not be the driving force behind your choice of cat. Cats can remain firmly as individuals, regardless of genetics. It’s true that some breeds are likelier to display certain behaviors, but felines can remain unpredictable.
Regardless of breed, many cats base their lifestyle around their age. Kittens are playful and attentive. Adult cats are inquisitive and natural hunters. Senior cats often just want to sleep and be left alone. Pairings of inappropriate age brackets can cause frustration on both sides.
The likeliest conflict will arise between kittens and senior cats. The kitten will want attention and to play whenever it is awake. The senior cat is unlikely to want to provide this stimulation. It is not the kitten’s mother and thus feels no affection toward it.
Look to match cats that are not too far toward either extreme. Young adults can get along with older adult, or even a cat that just entered senior status. Don’t pair a kitten with a 14-year-old, though. That’s like asking an octogenarian to share their home with a toddler.
Temperament is often an extension of age. Some cats have unique personality traits though, regardless of their years. Some kittens are bossy and dominant. Some senior cats are bouncy and playful.
Ensure the two cats have a similar temperament. This suggests they will look to live similar lifestyles. This, in turn, minimizes the chances of conflict. Cats often co-exist best when they forge a mutual agreement to ignore each other.
Where possible, investigate the life experience of a second cat. If this varies wildly from your own pet, the felines may clash. Cats like to live according to an existing routine and abhor changes to this.
For example, a cat that previously wandered outdoors will expect to do the same in your home. If your current pet is an indoor cat, the new arrival likely will be too. This could leave the new cat unsettled and frustrated. This may make it belligerent.
Check if the new arrival has any fears and phobias based on past trauma, too. Your existing cat may inadvertently frighten the new arrival through general mannerisms. This is unfair on both cats if they cannot live their lives in a way they are accustomed to.
What Pets are Compatible with Cats?
There are plenty of domesticated animals in the world. If your cat is belligerent around other felines, you may wish to consider a different species. This can be more successful, but the same risks remain in place. Some cats are just incapable of sharing.
The main things to consider with a different animal are size and temperament. Cats are easily spooked by larger animals. Sharing a home may leave the cat stressed, and potentially aggressive. Many felines consider attack the best form of defense when faced with a threat.
On the other hand, do not assume that a cat will befriend a small animal. Felines have naturally high prey drives. When a cat sees a small, fast-moving animal, it feels compelled to hunt it. What was intended to be a playmate could end up a snack.
You also need to weigh up the lifestyles and temperaments of different animals. Cats typically enjoy a quiet life. Another pet that is too active and boisterous with frustrate a cat. This, again, could to conflict. If things get physical, one or both animals may get hurt.
This is not to say that you can never bring another pet into your home. Cats are capable of co-existing peacefully with other species. In some cases, the two animals may become friendly. You just need to pick the correct pet and manage the relationship.
Can You Get a Dog if You Have a Cat?
Pop culture has long depicted canines and felines as mortal enemies. The idiom, “fighting like cats and dogs” is among the most popular in the English language. Cats and dogs can live together though. If managed well, they can even be the best of friends.
There are many reasons why cats and dogs frequently clash. Most of the time, it’s simply a matter of ballast and bluster from cats. Most felines are afraid of dogs. Dogs are typically physically bigger, louder and stronger than cats. In addition, dogs are also frequently playful.
A dog may approach a cat with the best of intentions. It just wants to say hello. It may even wish to instigate a playtime. Cats do not know this, though. A feline will assume that the dog wishes to do it harm. It will threaten or attack the dog in an act of self-preservation.
Over time, cats and dogs in the same home learn each other’s body language. Both species use their tails, ears and scent to communicate. They just do so in different ways. Like a Russian speaker cannot understand Spanish, a cat cannot understand a dog.
If you wish for a cat and dog to share a home, you’ll need to manage the relationship carefully. The first step to this is choosing an appropriate dog breed. The temperaments and personalities of different domesticated canines vary more than those of felines.
Dog Breeds That Get Along with Cats
If you’re looking to pair a dog and cat, try to pick a smaller, quiet and calm dog. The larger a dog is in stature, the likelier it is to frighten a cat. The most gentle and loving Pitbull in the world will intimidate a cat by sheer presence.
Avoid small, yappy dogs with high prey drives. A Jack Russell, for example, will chase and terrorize cats. This will lead to an antagonist relationship that is unlikely to ever work out. The dog will be unable to control its instincts, and the cat will be perpetually stressed.
The following dogs are typically considered cat friendly. Try to focus your search for canine companionship on these breeds.
- Beagle (the most popular dog breed in the USA for a reason)
- Shih Tzu
- Bichon Frise
- Retriever (these dogs are gentle, but their size makes the relationship tougher to manage)
All the same, adopting one of these dogs is not a failsafe. Just like humans, all dogs have unique personalities. Some dogs are excitable or antagonistic by nature. Equally, some cats are naturally averse to all dogs. Attempt a trial run before forcing the pets to live together.
Helping Dogs and Cats Co-Exist
Until a cat and dog learn more about each other, limit exposure. Wherever possible, keep the dog on a lead in the home. This will stifle the excitable temptation to lunge at a cat. Sharing space from afar helps the animals grow confident and familiar with each other.
Feed the two pets independently, ideally in separate rooms. This prevents any conflict or jealousy between two food-focused animals. Cats can eat dog food in a pinch, and vice versa. Each pet will gain more nutrition from meals designed for their species, though.
Once both animals have eaten, offer both an appropriate treat in a shared space. This reinforces the idea that time together is pleasurable. In addition, both cat and dog should be docile and calm after eating. They’re likely to simply doze together.
Ensure that both animals receive equal amounts of attention. Dogs are typically more overtly affectionate to owners than cats. If you spend all your time with a dog, your cat may become clingy. This can be problematic. Manage the relationship with both pets.
Time apart is also key to maintaining a positive cross-species relationship. Eventually, these two animals may be able to spend plenty of time together. For a while though, absence will make the heart grow fonder. This means taking your dog out as much as possible.
As a rule, dogs have more energy than cats and require more exercise. A dog that has not been walked or exercised will be full of energy. This will leave the dog likelier to approach – and annoy – the cat. If the dog is well exercised, it will be calm and sleepy.
Can Cats and Rabbits Live Together?
In theory, cats and rabbits should never share a home. Cats are predators and rabbits are born prey. In addition, both species are territorial. This suggests that the two animals will fight. The rabbit is likely to come off worse, though rabbits can be effective pugilists.
In reality, rabbits can be quite bossy. As long as your cat is not too dominant or aggressive, it will accept this. The similarities between cats and rabbits can lead to a firm friendship. As is so often the case with cats you just need to create a good first impression.
If wild rabbits visit your backyard, let your cat watch them from afar. Do not let the cat approach. It may hunt and harm the rabbits. The idea is to remove the novelty of rabbits from a cat’s mind. This makes is likelier to accept a pet of the same species.
Next, you must build your rabbit’s confidence. A rabbit may initially be frightened of a cat. Keep the rabbit in its hutch until it trusts the cat. If the rabbit turns tail and runs from a cat on sight, hunting instinct will kick in. The cat’s brain tells it chase on the spot.
Once the cat and rabbit are familiar with each other, arrange a playtime. Place both pets in a communal space. Be ready to grab one of both if conflict arises. Ideally, the two animals ignore will each other. Even better, they may play calmly or practice mutual grooming.
Even if a cat and rabbit seem to be getting along, supervise interaction. The relationship can turn sour in an instant. Cats are still governed by instinct, and a rabbit may push its luck too far. An antagonistic rabbit may provoke a cat into attacking.
As long as you remember that these two animals are predator and prey, though, they can co-exist well. Ensure a rabbit has a hutch to retreat to. Make your cat’s territory inaccessible to a rabbit. This will often ensure the animals get along in communal spaces.
Do Cats and Reptiles Get Along?
Cats and reptiles rarely make good housemates. The Open Conservation Biology Journal confirms that cats all but wiped out the wild lizard population of an Australian town. The fast, jerky movements of a lizard can be irresistible to a cat.
Snakes are another pet that should be kept away from cats. While many people are afraid of snakes, these reptiles are typically shy and skittish. A snake that encounters a cat is likely to be frightened out of its wits.
If the cat remains oblivious to the snake, the reptile will retreat and hide. If spotted, the cat may attack. It considers the snake a potential threat. Cats can kill snakes. If the snake decides to protect itself, it could cause damage to a cat in return.
Venomous snakes are illegal as pets without an appropriate license. If you have such certification, you would hardly let a venomous snake roam free. Popular pet snakes such as ball pythons are constrictors, though. These reptiles can crush the life from a small cat.
Most reptiles will spend their entire days in a terrarium that replicates their natural habitat. This, in theory, keeps them safe from unwanted feline attention. Escape is possible though, especially with snakes. It’s best to avoid taking any chances.
Can Cats Get Along with Birds?
As explained by Biological Conservation, wild birds are the preferred prey of most domesticated housecats. You will likely notice your own cat staring out if the window, chirping at birds outside. This is because the cat’s hunting instincts are entering overdrive.
With this in mind, keeping small birds with cats is inadvisable. The two pets could form an unlikely friendship. Stranger things have happened, and enough exposure may temper a cat’s desire to hunt. This remains the less likely outcome, though.
The cat will likely spend all day attempting to get to the bird within a cage. This will be no fun for your avian pet. It will spend its days in a constant state of stress.
The cat is unlikely to give up on its quest to capture the bird. It may grow frustrated and aggressive when unable to do so.
You certainly cannot let the bird fly free if you have a cat. This will only end one way. Even the most docile and loving cat will find its hunting instincts triggered. You cannot blame the cat for this. Instinct is a powerful thing.
A larger bird, such as a parrot, may fare better living with a cat. The size of such a bird may intimidate a feline. In addition, the vocalizations of exotic birds are distinct from those in a backyard. This may frighten off a cat.
If the two animals to interact though, fighting becomes likely. A large bird could do just as much damage to a cat as vice versa. Parrots, to return to our previous example, have strong breaks and claws.
If you keep chickens in your backyard for their eggs. Chickens can run free in a home populated by a cat. The usual caveat applies, though. You’ll need to take plenty of time to engage in training first.
Cats are curious. Your cat is unlikely to have encountered wild chickens before. This will inspire the cat to approach. Chickens, for their part, will start out oblivious. If startled though, the chicken may become verbal and even aggressive.
If a fight breaks out, a cat will likely make light work of a chicken. This means that you’ll need to help the animals grow used to each other. Initially keep your chickens in a wire coop with an attached run. This provides enough space and protection for the birds.
Let your cat into the yard and distract it with play. You are trying to convince your cat that the presence of chickens is an irrelevance. If the cat is distracted, the sight, sound and scent of chickens will hold less fascination.
Eventually, you can let the chickens run free for supervised play around a cat. Be on stand-by. You may need to quickly remove the cat from the situation. If enough time and training has passed though, the two species will harmoniously co-exist.
Small Animals That are Good with Cats
As a rule of thumb, cat should never live with animals smaller than themselves. It is unfair to house a cat with an animal that would ordinarily provide a snack. It’s like leaving a perfectly cooked steak in your home that you’re forbidden from ever investigating.
As always, there are exceptions. We previously discussed rabbits as possible feline companions. Many breeds of bunny would be considered small animals. Ferrets are also a possibility. For the most part though, small furry animals are best kept away from cats.
Do Cats and Ferrets Get on?
Ferrets are small animals, but playful and social. This means that a ferret could make a good companion for a young cat. You’ll just need to set the relationship boundaries early. Ensure that ground rules and mutual respect are quickly established.
Keep a dividing screen between the animals at first. This is for the protection of both species. The cat may be instinctively tempted to chase a ferret. Alternatively, it may be afraid of the smaller animal and attack. It is unlikely that a cat will have seen a ferret before.
A ferret may provoke this aggression, too. Ferrets are small animals with brave hearts. A ferret may bite a cat’s tail, mistaking it for a tail. Ferrets also love climbing on the back of larger pets. Few cats will welcome this, especially from an unfamiliar animal.
The good news is that, like cats, ferrets spend a lot of time sleeping. While playful when active, ferrets also doze away most of the day. This means you can keep the smaller pet in a safe cage. Cats and ferrets need only interact during a playtime for the latter.
If you manage the relationship, cats and ferrets can enjoy each other’s company. The cat will come to expect playtime with the ferret as part of its routine. This can be for fun for both animals. Just separate them at the first hint of aggression on other side.
Can Cats Live with Pet Rodents?
While cats and ferrets can get along, hamsters, rats and mice should be avoided. You may fare slightly better with a chinchilla or a guinea pig. Even so, these rodents are best kept separate from cats. All rodents risk falling foul of the predator vs. prey divide.
Many rodents, especially hamsters, are escape artists. Life in a cage can be dull for a small pet. This will inspire the rodent to seek freedom. Small animals explore the house, returning to the open when willing to return to their cage.
Cats like to explore, too. What’s more, cats will scent and hear these rodents from distance. Cats are not interested in the etiquette of pets. They will not recognize the rodent as a beloved family member. They’ll just see lunch. Chasing will immediately follow.
Maybe the rodent will see the cat coming and escape. It may even stand and fight back. Some rodents can physically best a cat. This leaves both animals at risk of injury. Applied Animal Behavior Science explains the cat is likelier to emerge victorious, though.
There is also the toll that this psychological stress will take on small animals. Rodents have weak hearts. The stress of being stalked by a cat can provoke cardiac arrest. Even staying in the cage may not protect a rodent from this fate.
If the cat picks up a small animal’s scent, it will hunt it down. This could be to a cage. The cat will then display patience, waiting for the rodent to leave the enclosure. It may also start to paw and scratch at the cage. This will terrify the smaller animal.
If you must have rodents and cats in the same house, keep them separated. Keep the rodent in a cage with no access to a cat’s paws. When exercise time arrives, keep the rodent in a ball and lock the cat in a separate room. Ideally though, keep these species apart.
Can I Keep Fish if I Have a Cat?
Fish are another popular pet that cats consider a food source. Fish in a bowl, tank or pond will not smell the same as a tin of tuna. All the same, aquatic pets will never fail to capture a cat’s imagination. The cat may attempt to capture and devour live fish.
A goldfish is an inadvisable pet if you have a cat. This is simple logistics. A small, solitary fish will live in a smaller bowl. This makes it easier for the cat to gain access. The cat may knock a bowl to the ground to gain access to the fish within it.
This may make it easy for the cat to eat the fish. A sad end for your other pet. It’s also potentially dangerous. The cat may cut its paws on a broken bowl. Equally, eating live fish can make cats unwell. Keeping fish in a tank is typically far safer.
A tank filled with exotic fish can provide a cat with entertainment. Just like humans, cats find watching fish relaxing. Just ensure your cat cannot gain access to the tank. Cover the top to make sure your cat doesn’t fall in. Hide the tank at night to help your cat sleep, too.
If you keep fish in a garden pond, protect them from a cat’s attentions. Most cats dislike getting wet. This means they will typically give the pond a wide berth. All the same, cover the pond with wire. This will keep the fish safe and prevent a hunting cat from falling in.
If your cat is lonely, consider getting a second pet. Just remember, all felines have different temperaments. Assess what species you feel your cat will get along with best. Consider a trial run first, too. Bringing a second animal into a cat’s home is not a decision to rush.