Are Two Pets More Love or More Trouble?

It would be wonderful to be surrounded by loads of pets – at least I think so! However most of us start with one and then go from there.

One of the most common questions I get is “should we get another pet?”. The quick answer to this is that if it is at all possible then yes definitely get another pet. Having two pets under the right circumstances can be very rewarding for the pets and all the family, contributing to a warm and happy environment (most of the time!). But there are some things to consider first including species ie cat or dog or other?, breed, temperament, space available, available time and finances to name a few.

I think that most people fear how their current pet will react and this is a valid concern. With cats, though we have domesticated and conditioned them (at least we like to believe!), they are generally solitary animals and bringing in a second cat or kitten can disturb the status quo and greatly upset the established cat.

In most circumstances the temperament of the cat is the most important thing as some will just not tolerate a new brother or sister at all and so it shouldn’t be attempted in the first place. However in many circumstances I think a new cat can be introduced into a household as long as it is done slowly and with supervision. Also I think introducing a kitten has a higher chance of success as the adult will not usually be so threatened.

With dogs the story is a little different as on the whole they are a more welcoming species and more used to a larger pack environment. Of course as with cats, this does depend on the personality of the first dog and if they don’t get on with other dogs then it shouldn’t be attempted.

But in most cases, a new dog can be introduced, and again even better if it is a puppy. With the introduction of a second younger dog or puppy some older dogs get a new lease on life which is lovely to see.

Always supervise the initial introductions and ensure you have control over both pets while they are checking each other out. Let them sniff each other but if you feel that one seems to be getting upset such as starting to snare, growl, hair pricking up, ears back then pull them away and start again when they’ve settled.

If one rolls onto their back then this usually indicates submissive behaviour which is not a bad thing as this kind of behaviour usually averts aggression so don’t intervene. It is important to let them display acceptable natural behaviour but not to tolerate aggression. If you do this slowly and monitor for any problem cues then there is a good chance they will become good friends.

With cats, it often takes quite a bit longer as many established cat’s noses will be out of joint with the introduction of a new family member. You can expect a lot of hissing and meowing but monitor this incase it gets out of hand.

One of my clients has persevered with a lovely new female cat but the older male just won’t have a bar of it and sadly it isn’t looking good. On the other hand as you can see from the photo above, another of my clients has a lovely story of their new kitten becoming very close with their older established cat which has been great for both. A good product that may help with establishing a second cat is Feliway. This is a pheromone diffuser and can help to make the cats “feel good” and possibly reduce anxiety associated with the introduction.

One thing to be careful of is considering a second pet when the first already has some anxiety behaviour, in the hope that it will settle down. This can be fraught with difficulty and should be considered carefully.

If the anxiety is boredom related then it is possible that a carefully selected second pet and appropriate introduction can help, though there are other techniques that may be better. But with many anxieties they need to be addressed primarily in the pet itself with behaviour modification techniques and sometimes medications, and relying on a second animal to help is likely to lead to further headache.

One advantage of being a mobile vet is that I get to see the environment in people’s homes which can certainly be an advantage in helping to assess if it is suitable for a second pet and we can also have a good discussion about the pros and cons.

With the appropriate measures in place in many circumstances a second pet can be welcomed into the home. To arrange a house call to chat about how to introduce a new pet call me on 0407 434 912.

How Can I Help Your Pet?