Welfare of cats: getting on with other animals
Some cats are sociable animals that need, and enjoy, company. Others prefer to be on their own.
Your cat's accommodation needs
Adult cats show variable degrees of sociability and although some cats may be friendly with other cats, usually those they have grown up with, others will prefer to be on their own.
Cats that are friends generally groom and rub against each other and share the same bed.
However, many cats are happier living without other cats and can be reluctant to accept new cats. A cat may suffer if it cannot avoid other cats it does not like. Introducing cats in a patient, careful way can increase their chances of living together happily. However, keeping too many cats together can result in a stressful and unhealthy environment, which may make it difficult for you to look after each cat's individual needs.
Cats that are treated kindly from an early age usually learn to see people as friends. Socialisation with people, and other animals it is likely to come into contact with, is an essential part of early learning for a kitten. In early life, the more kittens get used to people, noises, objects and other animals, the less likely they are to find these frightening as adults. Unless introduced early in life, cats will usually be scared of other animals such as dogs.
Making sure your cat is suitably housed
- provide regular contact, if your cat likes people, even when you are away
- think carefully about how your existing cat will respond to company before getting a second cat
- check, if you already own a cat, that you will be able to look after each animal properly and seek advice on the best way to introduce the new cat into the home
- make sure, if you have cats that are not friends, that they have the opportunity to avoid each other and that they can access everything they need (for example food, water, outside space, litter tray, rest area) without having to pass one another too closely
- not force your cat to interact with people or animals that it does not like, and make sure it can avoid them
- provide enough extra resources (for example toys, beds, litter trays and hiding places) if more than one cat shares a living space, and give them enough space so that they can get away from one another if they want to
- make sure your cat is properly cared for, when you are away, by a responsible person
- make sure that when someone else is looking after your cat they are aware of their legal responsibility to look after its welfare
- make sure that when someone else is looking after your cat that they understand the cat's needs and any special requirements it may have
- never leave your cat unsupervised with another animal or person who may harm or frighten it
- make sure that cats in your care are handled properly and are not stressed or endangered by other adults, children or animals