Catten and Lucky
Credit: Katie Brady on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

BFFsKelley Conkling on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.o GenericAbout twenty years ago, I remember hearing about a guy who was seeking some reassurance from his veterinarian that his new cat would get along with his other cat.

The vet responded, "Well, I have a sister, do you think you'd like her?"
It's hard to predict whether a cat will get along with other cats (or other species). In general, I've found that my more laid-back cats are quicker to become comfortable with other animals.
Yet cats who are territorial will always have a problem sharing their space and owners. Go slow with introductions; separate their bedding, food area, water dish, and litter boxes too.

A Word of Caution

According to the ASPCA, undersocialization early in life is the most common reason a cat is unwilling to welcome a new pet into their life. It's important to not force or punish a cat for "not getting along" with another animal.

Cats are, by nature, territorial and creatures of habit. What may seem like a fun-loving animal addition to your family can completely stress out a cat that is used to having the run of the house.
It's important to keep in mind that some cats are unable to live peacefully with other cats or animals. In those cases, it would be more humane to keep them in entirely different areas of your home (segregated) or to find a new home for one of them.

Tips to Help Cats Get Along with Others

Keep the new pet in separate quarters (with her own food, water, bedding, litter box) and allow your resident cat to hear and smell the new pet through a door or a baby gate. When you see your cat checking out the newcomer (or that area), encourage and reward him with a treat afterwards.
If there is a display of aggression (hissing, growling, tail waving) in your resident cat, do not punish or scold him. Just leave your cat alone and give him plenty of space. This is a good indication that you need to proceed slowly - probably over the course of a few weeks.
Cat hugAviva West on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericYour cat needs to associate the new pet with good feelings, so at every attempt to reintroduce a new animal, have your cat's favourite toys, treats and anything else your house cat likes in the same area. I have a cat that loves to be brushed, so I decided to brush her near the area where I kept foster kittens.
One thing to keep in mind: keep giving plenty of attention to your resident cat, I believe they sense (and perhaps get jealous) of owners who seem to pay more attention to the new pet. This is a tough balancing act since both animals need a great deal of reassurance during this transition period.
Do NOT allow cats to fight - it always gets worse. If a fight ensues, you need to break it up and separate them (but not punish them). 
Gradually reintroduce pets after a period apart - you'll need to gauge this time frame. It's wise to have a place where both animals can "retreat" to be left alone. Once you feel they can eat and play within close quarters of each other, you can leave them alone together.
Another option (although I've never used it) is prescription medication from your veterinarian which can help with aggression and/or fear in one (or both) animals. I feel this is a last resort - and something that should only be carried out for a short period of time.
Aviva West on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Some Breeds of Dogs are Less Likely to Get Along with Cats

Some breed of dogs, such as terriers, were bred to chase small running animals. These dogs are less likely to get along with cats. Yet, those who have been socialized (from a young age) to coexist with cats may get along swimmingly with your new pet.

Cats Breeds Most Likely to Get Along with Others

Friendsbgraney55 on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericOn, an article by Stacy N. Hackett caught my eye. In it, she assures us that most mixed or purebred cats can learn to live with other species. Yet there appears to be some breeds that are more likely to enjoy the company of other furry friends than others.

These include (but are not limited to) the following:

American Shorthair (ASH) are known to be gentle, easygoing, good with children, dogs and other pets.

American Curl cats are affectionate, highly social and adjust quickly to new environments, children and pets.

Bombay cats can apparently be leash trained and some will even play fetch. These highly intelligent cats adjust well to children, senior citizens, and other pets.

British Shorthair are generally quite calm and quiet. Yet they prefer not to be handled too much (good for homes with more demanding pets).

Beaker & the Guinea PigsHighlanderilovebutter on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic cats may be long or short haired. They are highly active yet quiet. Highlanders enjoy socializing with children, cats, kittens, and dogs.

Japanese Bobtail tend to be around you all the time. They love to play tag and are great with children, dogs, and other pets.

Ragdoll cats are extremely laid-back. They tend to be more interested in people than in other animals. Ragdolls are not climbers or jumpers, so it's something to keep in mind when you are considering another pet. 

Singapura cats are highly intelligent and extroverted. They enjoy playing yet aren't as destructive as other types of cats. They like "to help" and will constantly supervise you and other animals. Singapura cats are smaller than most breeds.

Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Research at the ASPCA

Dr. Kat Miller provides tips (including how to "test" a shelter pet)

Unlikely Friendships

Just when I thought that some cats wouldn't like other species (including natural prey or predators) I found out that some are the best of friends.

Up next is a series of videos I found on YouTube of cats getting along with other species. They include cats that get along with (or adopt) a squirrel; a bird that adores a cat; an eagle, fox, and two cats that calmly "hang out" together; a cat with a baby rabbit; and baby ducklings that climb all over an adult cat (that doesn't seem to mind one bit). 

A Mother Cat Adopts a Baby Squirrel

Bird Wakes His Best Friend . . a Cat!

An Eagle, a Fox, and Cats All Getting Along Fine

Cat Adopts Baby Rabbit

Baby Ducklings Climbing on Cat

Fight with us for those that can't
The latest in animal rights, heart warming stories, fun upcoming events and more.
Fight with us for those that can't
The latest in animal rights, heart warming stories, fun upcoming events and more.
Stay Informed with PMF
  • The Latest in Animal Rights
  • Heart Warming Stories
  • Fun Upcoming Events