DEAR JOAN: My adult son has a beloved cat. He needs a housemate, and a couple of his good friends need a place to live. It’s a perfect match, except the couple has a cat of their own — they got the cat because my son’s cat was so much fun.
Is this a recipe for disaster, or could this arrangement work out? They are talking about doing a “dry run” for a week, but I can’t imagine that would be long enough.
If they just toughed it out for the long run, would the two cats eventually learn to co-exist? Of course, in the best of all possible worlds, the cats won’t cause any trouble at all, but it is more likely that they will, isn’t it?
Is there any tactic for successfully familiarizing the two kitties, or at least for calming the possible histrionics so that everyone can live happily ever after?
— Linda Gribble, Richmond, Calif.
DEAR LINDA: This reminds me of when I was going to get a cat after the death of my longtime buddy, and my mom, who was sharing the house with me and had just lost her beloved dog, decided she might like a cat, too — the first she would ever have.
She asked me if two cats would be more trouble than one, and I said, of course not. And I was right. Two cats were twice the trouble of one, but not for the reasons you think. They just required twice the food, twice the kitty litter and twice the occasional aggravation, and gave a million times the love.
A lot depends on the personality, breed and sex of the cats, but even then, there are no hard rules. It’s like with human housemates. Most of us get along most of the time, but there are dust ups. And not all personalities mesh.
You’ll hear both horror and success stories about same and different sex cats, as well as different breeds and their abilities to get along, but forget all of that. The cats’ unique personalities will determine how they get along.
To hedge your bets on making a winning connection, the cats should be introduced slowly. Cats can be unsettled by a move, so start by keeping the friends’ cat in a single room — the friends’ bedroom — for a few days and let it get accustomed to the new surroundings.
Because your son’s cat already is in residence, it could see the other cat as invading its territory. Keep the two cats apart, allowing only one at a time to have the run of the house.
Let them “meet” through a closed door by feeding them together, but on opposite sides of the door. Trade scents by letting the cats nap on a blanket or towel, then swapping them so each cat smells the other and starts to recognize their new roomies.
When it’s time to make introductions, keep everything calm and allow them to sniff each other. Don’t give up if the fur flies. Just separate them and try again when they’ve calmed down.
Not every pet gets along with another pet 100 percent of the time, but it can work — and it does more than it doesn’t. Just remember that they don’t have to become best friends; they just have to tolerate each other.
Contact Morris at Jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.