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Should I get another cat?

Should I get another cat?

(Q) My outdoor five-year-old cat isn't very affectionate and keeps to himself. Should I get another cat or kitten to help him come out of his shell?

(A) Behaviourist Jon Bowen says: The simple answer is that it is better not to get another cat. Instead, focus your energy on providing your cat with the best possible living environment. Improve the garden so that it attracts more insects and birds, and provide places for him to climb and get shelter outside. This will have a far greater impact on him than having a new feline companion. 

It is very important to remember that cats are a facultative social species. This means that they are able to form social relationships but they don't need them to be happy, to thrive or even to survive, in the way that dogs do.

When cats do form a relationship with another cat, it is unique and irreplaceable. Many cats go through life quite happily without ever developing a bond of this kind.

Cats are at their most accepting of new relationships when they are less than two years old, and we found in the Neighbourhood Cat Campaign that middle-aged cats were more likely to get into conflict. So, your cat is not at an ideal age for introducing a new cat. We also have to take into account his personality. He is private and self-contained, which makes it unlikely that he is open to forming a bond with another cat.

In the same way that people vary in sociability, so do cats. Some people love holding parties and meeting new people, while others don't. If you are the kind of person who values your privacy, imagine how you would feel if your family picked a group of friends for you and kept inviting them round to spend time with you. This would be an affront to your individuality. He can always find feline friends if he wants them when he's outside.