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Adding a New Cat to the Household

Dear Kismet,

My family and I lost our cat Charlie a month ago. He was 16 years old and dearly loved by all of us. He passed away very suddenly due to multi-organ failure. Charlie left behing his "sister', Tammy who is 15 years old. They grew up together in our household and were very close. Ever since Charlie died, Tammy cries for him every night and it is heart wrenching. We are now considering getting a kitten for Tammy's (and our) sake but we are unsure if it is the right thing to do. Will a new kitten make her feel less lonely and bring new life and energy into the house, or will a new kitten just stress Tammy out and wear her out in her old age? We were hoping for some advice on this issue. If we are to get a new kitten, should it be a male or female?

We hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you very much.


Dear Joanna

We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved Charlie and especially on how painful his passing obviously is on Tammy. The bond the two of them must have shared for so many years must have been so special and so strong. Getting another feline companion for Tammy might be a wonderful gift for her in her later years, though it is very difficult to know if any two individual cats will get along. Especially when you compare it to what Tammy shared with Charlie.

At her age, would you possibly consider getting a slightly older cat that may have lost a companion of it's own and might be very much looking for a new home and new feline friend?

The energy level of a very young kitten may be more than Tammy would want to handle at this stage in her life, as I imagine she and Charlie's life together had settled into a fairly quiet routine in their later years.

Local shelters often have a history of many of the cats that are turned in as do many local cat rescue organizations. Maybe the story of one of their currently available cats might be a good match for you and Tammy. Obviously to reach such ages your cats have enjoyed wonderful care and companionship both human and feline.

While same gender pairs can form lifelong and affectionate bonds, many times the opposite sex is more easily accepted as a new member of the family from both catsí perspectives. Again, if you can find a shelter, breeder, or rescue group that has a detailed history of their cats, this would be helpful.

If you do want a younger cat or kitten, I would recommend you be sure to have a 'safe' place for Tammy to get away from the typical kitten antics. As the new kitten fits in, you can let them spend more time together, and see if Tammy is totally enjoying her new companion all the time. There may be a need for you to keep them apart if no one is available to supervise their play and interactions. No matter what new cat companion you decide would be best for you and Tammy do be sure and shower her with extra attention when the new cat arrives.

She has lost a very dear friend and will need your extra assurances as her life takes another new turn so quickly. Like for many older people, change is not always easy for our older pets, so special consideration for her routine and favorite places, things and food should be maintained as much as possible.

We wish you and Tammy many more happy years together and hope that you find a wonderful new feline friend.

All the best,