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How to know if you should adopt another cat

What is your perfect number of cats? As a child growing up, I never had less than two, but sometimes we had up to four (a real clowder—that is your new word for the day 😉 ). Of course, my parents realized early on that having three daughters meant three was the absolute minimum. That way, we each had one to call our own: Cassy (mine); Cassy’s daughter, Pinky (born in our garage in the days before we knew about spay/neuter and kept by my sister Charlotte); and Tux, a cute stray we rescued from being tormented by neighborhood boys whom Maureen persuaded my parents to keep. These special kitties all lived until our college days.

Today I don’t have a cat (we have allergies in the family), but both of my sisters have one. And they sometimes think about adopting another one, but it can be hard to know the right time, don’t you think? Life feels perfect as is, but sometimes it can feel as if something is “missing.”

It’s a big decision a lot of us think about—especially when we encounter a really cute one as a stray, at a local shelter or while “just browsing” (everyone does this, right?).

But when is a good time to introduce a brand-new feline into your household? Here are some signs you’re finally ready to bring another cat into the fold:

1. Your one cat seems lonely. You know your cat better than anyone. Some cats are loners and would not take to another cat well. But plenty others are social creatures, interested in neighborhood dogs and friendly with strangers. If your cat is playful and open to new experiences (and creatures), she just might appreciate having a companion around. The more the merrier, right?

2. You’ve got this cat thing down. Once you find your groove, caring for a cat is so easy! They sleep all the time; they don’t require daily walks; they’ll survive if you work late a few nights a week; they’re content to simply catch some Z’s on your lap while you binge-watch House of Cards. The good news is, the workload of a second cat is basically the same as having one. (OK, there is twice the litter to scoop, but still.) And your kitties have a playmate now, so you won’t worry so much when you’re away.

3. Your cat has a bit of a tummy. If the vet has told you that your cat is overweight, think about why: Perhaps he’s eating fattening food? Or perhaps your cat just lounges around too much because he’s, well, bored. Unfortunately, cats that lack adequate exercise are at risk for obesity, which brings with it a whole host of health problems. When your cat has another cat to play with, he runs and jumps every day, is psychologically challenged by having another personality to contend with, and is emotionally fulfilled by having another lifelong friend.

4. Your heart is extra big. Unlike the Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, yours is extra big, with an unlimited amount of room for lots and lots of fur children! That kind of love is so precious in this world—and we all know homeless animals who’ve been rescued because of it.

5. You’ve dreamed of adopting another one for as long as you can remember. Simply put, sometimes we just need to take the leap and follow our heart. Two cats means twice the love, twice the purrs, twice the affection—and twice the fur! If you think you’ll be happier with two (or even three), you’re probably right.

Always use common sense, though—you want it to be a successful introduction, after all. Make sure any new cat fits with the personalities of your other cats (and possibly dogs), and consider if you have enough money and space to care for your newest family member.

Now you’re ready to adopt your next kitty from a shelter! (On a side note, here are 10 awesome reasons why adopting is the way to go—vs. buying from a pet store.) Have fun and let me know how it goes.

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