A common question asked of veterinarians is whether a cat can be introduced into a home that already has a pet. The answer is complex, and it can sometimes feel like you can’t quite get a straight answer. Below are factors that impact the outcome of a new adoption or may make you reconsider whether it is the right time to introduce another pet. This will be followed, in next month’s installment, by a stepwise plan for introducing a new cat into the home.
When we think about the general temperament of cats, there are no hard and fast rules. I have seen a multitude of cat personalities that fall on the spectrum of traditional “cat” to “my cat is a dog.” Factors involved include genetic temperament, whether mom was present soon after birth, whether there were siblings, at what age were they separated, and, during the first 12 weeks of life, did the cat have any interaction with humans, dogs, or other species of animal. A lot of this information may not be available, but the more of it we know, the better. These early exposures do have an immense impact on the speed of introduction as well as whether we will achieve the desired outcome of a peaceful, safe transition to a multi-pet home.