We human beings sometimes think of our pets as being small versions of ourselves. We also sometimes project our feelings onto our pets, believing them to be happy, sad, excited, or lonely, even when no such emotions exist. At such times we are “anthropomorphizing” our pets, imagining them as tiny people in little furry suits instead of the cats that they truly are.
While anthropomorphizing is not always a negative thing, it can be a disservice to project human thoughts and emotions onto them. It is one thing to imagine your cat as your best friend and enjoy watching television together; however, it is yet another thing to make lifestyle changes for your pet based on what you imagine how you would feel in his or her place. Bringing home a new kitten might be one of those situations in which your cat would much rather be thought of as a cat, rather than as your child.
Most cats do not live in groups. Lions are one of the few cats that do live in groups, coming together to hunt or to raise offspring with an organized social structure. Most varieties of cat, big or small, prefer their own company. This sentiment is also seen in our house cats, particularly if the cat has been raised on its own. Regardless, we can not help imagining them as needing company, particularly as they age and start slowing down. We imagine that a kitten coming into the house will “make him young again.” Is this the truth, however?
If your cat has been living on his or her own into maturity, a kitten might seem like an intruder. Instead of welcoming a kitten into the household, your cat might dislike the interruption of established routines or dislike sharing spaces that have long since been considered private. Your new kitten might end up being the target of the older cat’s attacks or might end up attacking your older cat, even if it’s just in an effort to start a game. For the cat that has lived its entire lifetime alone, introducing a kitten later in life could lead to years of unhappiness. In such a case, it is best to avoid bringing in a new kitten, no matter how much you would like to do so.
If your pet has previously lived with another cat, however, he or she might benefit from a new kitten. Although your cat is not experiencing sadness in quite the same way that you might after a friend had died, your cat might miss the companionable act of mutual grooming and having another feline to curl up with. If so, then it is important that you make the decision that is right for your cat, not the decision that would make you happiest.
The color and sex of your new kitten is not of any importance to your older cat; to a certain extent, your new kitten’s breed is unimportant as well. Your most important criteria for a new kitten, then, should be based on temperament. Any kitten is going to be more active than a mature cat, so you will want to keep that kitten’s adult temperament in mind when you are considering a new companion for your mature cat. If your mature cat has been laid back and quiet all of his or her life, then avoid bringing in a kitten that will grow up to be an active and inquisitive animal. In general, if a cat will have a slender body type as an adult, such as a Siamese or Abyssinian, then it will be more active; if a kitten will have a cobby body as an adult, it will be less active.
So if you feel the urge to bring a new kitten into the life of your mature cat, ask yourself if your cat is comfortable in his or her life right now or whether he or she seem so be pining for a new friend. If it turns out that the only one who will benefit from a new kitten is you, then think long and hard before bringing one into your home. Your mature cat will thank you for it.