Kitten and cat companionship

Kitten and cat companionship

In this section we’ll look at:

  • The ideal approach to companionship for your kitten or cat
  • Do cats need another cat as a companion?
  • What stress-related problems can be caused if cats live together?
  • How can I ensure my cats aren’t stressed if they are living together?
  • Who should care for my cat if I go on holiday?
  • Research

Bladder Care in Cats


Stress can cause cats to develop bladder problems. Our leaflet give advice on feline stress busters, as well as tips for improving their bladder health.
The ideal approach to companionship for your kitten or cat

The ideal approach to companionship for your kitten or cat

Cats are solitary animals and generally prefer to live alone. If cats are going to be friendly, it is most likely to be with other cats they have grown up with. 

Provide enough resources for each cat – e.g. litter trays, bowls and beds etc to avoid chronic stress in a home with multiple cats.

If you go on holiday, you need to provide adequate care for your cat. It’s best if a friend or neighbour can look after your cat in your home. If this isn’t possible, your cat should be boarded at a reputable cattery.
Do cats need company

Do cats need company?

Do cats need another cat as a companion?

No. Cats like their own company and should generally be kept on their own. Living with other cats is a common cause of chronic stress. The only time that cats should be kept together is if they are kept with littermates that they grew up with.


What stress-related problems can be caused if cats live together?
  • Stressed cats can start spraying urine indoors. This is unpleasant for both the cat and the owner.
  • Stressed cats can get feline cystitis (bladder inflammation). This is painful and may cause blood to appear in the urine.

How can I ensure my cats aren’t stressed if they are living together?
  • Each cat should have their own litter tray, cat bed, hiding place, scratching post, feeding bowl and water bowl
  • Locate them around your home, so your cats can choose to avoid each other. 
  • Provide spares. If you have two cats, provide three of everything.
  • Give them plenty. Not having enough things they want is the commonest cause of stress when cats come into close contact with each other.
Who should care for my cat if I go on holiday

Who should care for my cat if I go on holiday?

You’ll need to arrange for someone responsible to care for your cat. It’s best if a friend, neighbour or pet sitter can look after your cat in your home. If this isn’t possible, your cat should be boarded at a reputable cattery.

If a friend or “pet sitter” is looking after your cat while you’re away, make sure they know about your cat’s requirements. Leave a list of information, such as how much food and exercise your cat needs, any medication they might be on and how to give it – and your vet’s contact details for emergencies.

Ensure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date, well in advance. Well-run catteries won’t allow cats to board if they haven’t been vaccinated.

You can find a pet sitter through the National Association of Registered Pet Sitters. Call 0845 230 8544 or visit their website to find a local pet sitter

Research

Research

PDSA reveals the state of our pet nation each year in a comprehensive measure of animal wellbeing in the UK – The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report.

Since 2011, over 21,000 pet owners, veterinary professionals and children have been surveyed to find out how dogs, cats and rabbits are cared for. Here are the findings for cats and their companionship.

Overview

Cats don’t like to live with other unrelated cats. It can negatively impact on their health and wellbeing if they do not have access to enough resources.

Key findings from our most recent report:
Some owners of more than one cat are not providing them with enough resources such as litter trays and food bowls.
  • 59% of owners have one cat. 41% own two or more cats – that equates to around 3.9 million cats living in households with another cat.
  • Cat owners in the North East, Yorkshire, Humber and Wales are most likely to have three or more cats. Nearly a quarter of cat owners in Wales have three or more cats.
  • 63% of cat owners in the South East are most likely to have just one cat.

Top Tip...Think twice before getting a second cat as a ‘friend’ or companion for your existing cat. Cats are naturally solitary animals: they usually prefer to live alone.

“Cats are fantastic companion animals but their natural behaviour does not prepare them very well for living in houses with people and other cats. Early experiences are crucial to ensure that they are comfortable with social interaction from people, and kittens need to be handled appropriately from a very early age. 

They also need special consideration if people wish to own more than one cat. Living with housemates can be very stressful and cats are not naturally tolerant of feline company. They can learn to enjoy it but it is important to make sure that their environment is suitable and especially that they are not being expected to share resources, such as food, water, litter facilities and resting places, with other cats. If they do so out of choice that is a different matter! Cats like to be in control and having choices is very important to them, as is privacy and a chance to eat and rest alone.”


Sarah Heath BVSc DipECVBM-CA CCAB MRCVS European Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine (Companion Animals).
Leaflet