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Dear Molly, "Sad Cat"

Dear Molly,

We have gone from 4 kitties to one in a year and a half. We lost the last one, Dusty who was 13, Dec. 30. Sunnie, 5, and he were best buds. She has been so sad. Though I know we will never be able to replace Dusty, we though 1 or 2 playmates would be good for her. Not so. Simon and Trixie are here on a trial basis - they are super sweet, well mannered, not the least bit aggressive. We had them an extra bedroom for nearly a week where Sunnie could smell them. Then I brought one down and Sunnie hissed and growled - to be expected. Since then we have moved them downstairs in a kennel. Sunnie came out once and went around the kennel hissing and growling - the little one did not respond. Now Sunnie removes herself to the bedroom, her safe spot, and doesn't come out. She is not her happy sweet self. I desperately want to make this work but not at the risk of changing Sunnie. I am so in hopes that you can help us. Please let me know what our next step should be.

Dear Sad Cat's Mom,

First let me say that even though a cat has had a bonded partner, it does not mean it wants other cat company. Cats are highly territorial and getting them to adjust to new cat relationships is very difficult. They’ve evolved as a solitary species and are not wired with a social hierarchy like dogs have.

If you do decide to keep the two new little ones, then you’ll need to follow the introduction protocol carefully  - How To Introduce a New Cat. Don’t rush things – this might take a month or more.

If there is a fight, know that cats have a very long memory; so when they see/smell each other again, those feeling of anger/fear/anxiety will return.

Tell me what Sunnie is doing that makes you say she’s “sad”. When a cat's environment goes through a great deal of change, they are going to need some time to adjust - emotionally and physically. Cats are routine addicts; when something changes, they become unsettled and will often exhibit behaviors like howling at night, sleeping more, etc. While these behaviors might be interpreted as "sorrow", they might just as easily be reacclimating to a new schedule.

And Sunnie might also be a cat who truly enjoys the company of other cats - but even these cats need to have a slow introduction into their home. If you follow the Introduction Protocol closely and you still see her withdrawing and not socializing with the new cats, then she is probably telling you she is fine with being an only cat household.

I'm sorry for your recent losses and hope you find peace in your home soon.


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