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August 25, 2011

You Gotta Be Kitten Me! Is It Age or Attitude That Matters Most?

Put your own preferences aside when looking for a feline companion for your cat.

All Animals magazine

  • Finnegan (left) and Lacey.  Lisa Provost

by Arna Cohen

People looking to add another cat to their feline family often gravitate toward kittens, equating youth with instant acceptance by resident cats.

But the age bias is unfounded. Dominant males can be great with kittens, who are territorially malleable, says feline behavior consultant Jackson Galaxy. Cats with different personalities, however, may be stressed by a lawless kitten who hasn’t yet learned the language of cat. “[Your cat] just pops” in that situation, says Galaxy, and may exhibit anxiety, aggression, and litter box problems.

Instead of focusing on age or your own preferences, search for a good fit for your feline team. Lisa Provost of Manchester, N.H., spent several hours at an animal shelter before choosing a friend for her active young Maine coon. “I was resolved to take my time and find the right one,” she says. “I didn’t care what kind of cat as long as they got along.”

At the top of a cat tree in the communal room, she found Lacey, a long-hair described by staff as a sweet, playful animal who never fought. Following recommendations for gradual introductions, Provost installed her in a bedroom; within minutes, the two cats were batting paws under the door. Provost opened the door a crack to let them sniff each other, closing it again after Finnegan hissed.

The next day she took a chance and carefully let Lacey out; much to her surprise, it was love at first sight, just what Finnegan—and his matchmaker—needed.

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