ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: I have always had a cat. Several months ago we lost our last cat and we were heartbroken. 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.
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 other slurs, many people mistakenly believe that cats aren’t social. But in free-living colonies many “preferred associates” form long-term bonds. 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. Litter mates are statistically most likely to remain BFFs.
Start by equipping your home with a plethora of feline amusements like floor-to-ceiling cat trees and window mounted bird feeders. Hide 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 aged 12—16 weeks with a history of gentle exposure to humans and other cats. A Feliway Multi Cat pheromone diffuser can calm their nerves as they adjust to their new home.
You can reinforce relaxed lap sitting by stroking only your cats’ heads and shoulders – just like the mutual grooming they would share back in the cat ‘hood. Discourage snarky attitudes by completely ignoring, standing up and walking away at the first hint of tension. Punishments like water sprays and Tasers are relationship killers.
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 from his roomie 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 belly ache.
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.