ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: I have always had a cat throughout my 60 years. Several months ago, we lost our last cat and we were brokenhearted. I would like to find two cats/kittens from the same litter. Would it be a problem finding two different kittens that would live together? We want a cat that would be inside only and who loves to be in our lap. Is that something that you train a cat to do (lap-sit)?
Dr. Nichol: We all want pets who personify peace and tolerance, holding paws, singing kumbaya and behaving more like pacifists than politicians. Witnessing feline brawls, cat calls and verbal pejoratives many people mistakenly believe that cats are asocial. But in free-living colonies many form long-term bonds with “preferred associates.” Research into feline feuding shows that you are most likely to create a convivial cat couple by bringing young kitties of similar ages into your home at about the same time. Littermates are statistically most likely to remain BFFs.
Start by equipping your home with a wealth of feline amusements, such as floor-to-ceiling cat trees and window-mounted bird feeders. Boxes at various heights will allow the kids to choose solitude when not in an interactive mood. (Feline Environmental Enrichments are on my website, drjeffnichol.com). When your house is a feline fun factory, you can troll the shelters for kittens ages 12 to 16 weeks with a history of gentle exposure to humans and other cats. A Feliway Multi Cat plug-in pheromone diffuser will promote calming.
You can reinforce relaxed lap-sitting by stroking only your kitties’ heads and shoulders – just like the mutual grooming they would share in a cat “hood.” Discourage snarky attitudes by ignoring and walking away at the first hint of tension. Forget punishments such as water sprays and Tasers.
Finally, the wheels can fall off a great friendship if one cat returns to the lair reeking of a foreign land (veterinary clinic). The immediate fear-related aggression can last a lifetime. Avoid this disaster by having your kitties share all of life’s experiences. Take both to the doctor even if only one has a toothache.
Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.