The Human Benefits of a Multiple Pet Household

We’ve all heard the arguments for why pets benefit from four-legged companionship – it makes them more social and active, less likely to have separation anxiety, it keep them young etc.  I even posted a “top 10 reasons more cats are better than one” earlier this year.

bringing a second kitten or cat into your home, I HAVE CAT

Petie’s first week at home (Kip is not amused)

 

But having started my career in sales, I know the singular question people ask themselves when making a commitment (be it purchasing a yellow pages advertisement or adding a new pet their home).

That question is: WIIFM. “What’s in it for me?”

So in honor of National Get a Pal for Your Pet Day I’ll share a few things I’ve gotten out of sharing my home with multiple felines.

Peace of mind: Okay, it’s an obvious one but when I leave for work or spend the night out (which happens rarely these days) my mind is at ease. I know my cats will have each other for companionship in my absence.

Better understanding of your pet:  You may think you know your cat (or dog, bunny…), but you only truly see all aspects of your pets personality in relation to other animals.

I always knew Kippie was a good boy but it was only when I got my other cats that I understood how truly patient and non-confrontational he is. When Haddie sticks her head into his food bowl mid-bite, Kip stands back and looks up at me with his big green. If I don’t remove her, he walks over to her bowl and munches away as if nothing happened.  Kip is the pacifists of cats and he makes me think about which battles are really worth fighting.

From fostering I’ve also learned that Kip is a nurturer, attempting to groom cat that crosses our threshold. It turns out my sweet failed foster Haddie, who acts as my pillow when I’m typing on my chaise lounge, has a very bitchy side. She hisses at any four-legged female who dares enter the premises.


Personal growth: Because each animal is a unique little personality, each of my cats has taught me something different about myself, helping me grow as an individual.

I’ve written about how Petie made me appreciate signs of love might come in ways other than I might expect them, and that sometimes people and pets need a little space to come out of their shell. And of course without him who knows if I HAVE CAT would even exist (he is the mascot after all).

Kip was my starter cat. He taught me the joys of cat motherhood. He was a patient teacher tolerating unwanted squeezes and kisses without raising a paw.  Who knows if I would have gotten the second or third cat had my experience with Kip turned out differently.

Poor Kip – this was my first Christmas with him.

 

Haddie, on the other hand, has made me to realize how deeply I care for my cats. Because of her I’ve found myself sitting on the floor of my steam filled bathroom in an effort to help her breath, and applying ointments on her eyeballs twice a day. It gave me an understanding of how my Mom must have felt when my sister and I were in pain – doing whatever it took to ease our suffering, and feeling helpless if she couldn’t.

Being in the moment:  With one cat it’s easy to take his/her presences for granted. With multiple cats I carve-out special time with each of them to ensure they all feel the love.

Even if it’s just a minute or two I make sure to look them in the eyes and really see them. I admire them from head to toe, scratch chins, massage toe-webs and watch bellies go up-and-down. I don’t allow myself to be distracted by anything in those moments.

And with so many cats to entertain you and keep you busy, how can you possibly focus on things like the economy and other downers in life. They keep us grounded and laughing.

So hopefully if you were considering getting a second or third cat (or dog) for your home, you’ll make sure to consider what the addition of a new pet member of the family can bring to your life.

If you already have multiple cats, I’d love to hear how you feel having more than one cat (or dog/pet) has impacted your life in a positive way.

This post is sponsored by the Pets Add Life campaign and the American Pet Products Association. While I am being compensated a nominal fee for helping spread the word about the benefits and joys of pet ownership (which I will use to offset costs incurred by my foster babies), I sincerely mean and believe in everything written in this post.
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42 Responses to The Human Benefits of a Multiple Pet Household

  1. Rachel Oaks says:

    Thanks! That’s truly beautiful! I’m the cat parent of 4.  We just had one pass away in July. My babies each have their own personality. We have the shy fuzzy butt girl, the mama’s boy, the daddy’s boy, (both boys are 19lbs) and after the passing of the sweet motherly old lady (she was 16), we have the crazy kitten (her personality is slightly showing through day by day). Our home is full of cats, but they are loved in there very own way (one cat likes to spend time with us in the bathroom, where the other hates the bathroom but plops he’s big butt on you when laying down, all 19lbs of him!), but I would never have it any other way. My kitties mean everything to me. They are my children. 

  2. Lisabet says:

    We have recently jumped from 4 to 6 cats….because of fostering 3 paw-si-tively adorable Siamese mix kittens.  We just had to keep 2; my daughter adopted the 3rd.  We began in 1998 with one cat; then got a second as a companion a year later.  Jump ahead to 2004, and we adopted 2 more rescues from a feral momma; (just a few days after our senior dog passed away..but we’d already spoken for the cats…) then 1 got sick & died in 2008.  :-(  … But just a little while before that, a 5th kitty showed up asking to be rescued–all on his own.  … (the kitty who passed had been having health problems over the previous year–had nothing to do with the new arrival).  Now, it’s 2011, and we’ve had the “failed foster” episode… but…the original kitty is now a senior citizen..and we don’t know how much longer we’ll have her…. …  But, life is never dull.

  3. bonnie says:

    In addition to all the great points you mention, I have learned having multiple pets (three collies, eight cats) that there isn’t a lot of time to be upset with one for breaking the rules and there isn’t a lot of time to grieve when you lose one. When I lost my Bonnie Lass in August 2010 I didn’t think I would ever get over it.  But when you have so many others that need your love and attention, you have to move forward. They showed me that she is still here in the first photos i took of the threesome.  My friend Baxter did this picture ‘s special effects, but it looks like they left a spot for her in the photos. So, for me….more is definitely better.

  4. Anna says:

    I started out (recently) with 2 kitties that I moved to a new home with. The house sort of came with a feral kitty, Stripes, that I keep fed, watered, and have set up the shed as a  sort of cat rescue home. There are 3 kitties that I know of that share the shed. A female kitty that I had never seen before walked right into my house one night this year in January. She is a sweetie. A rescue kitty, one of a litter or 4 that I rescued from an abandoned home for sale, evidently was ready to be “fixed” and I didn’t know. So a few months later we had Gracie and Brighton! They are such sweet babies, that we kept them! We had Ozzie “fixed” but apparently too late, as now we have 4 five week old babies! Boomer (only boy of litter!), Daisy, Maisy, and Mimzy! We are keeping them as well! They are sweet loves! We also got a new puppy, Cooper, named as such, because he is a Miniature Poodle, so Cooper as in MINI!!! LOL! They brighten our days, and nights, and keep us on our toes! We love our babies, all 11 of them! We also love the “outside kitties”, Stripes, Blackie, and One-Eyed-Jack. We have learned that we need to be happy, even when times are hard and difficult. They all keep us happy!!!! We love them! <3

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Aww Gracie like our rescue kitten from Puerto Rico (just a foster!). Oh my goodness Ozzie was getting busy! ha! You must have lots of chaos and fun at your home! Thanks for loving the kitties! 

  5. Annameow says:

    This is quite the timely article! I am fostering a Petie look-a-like and feeling that without a feline playmate/snuggle partner, he is missing something. I’ve always had at least two cats in my life. They really do take care of each other and I love what you said about learning different lessons from each cat (pet). So true.

  6. Alchow3 says:

    i have two cats and currently fostering two. i love having multiple cats in my house because it makes me feel like a mommy :) However, im finding myself getting super attached to my two fosters and dont know how to let them go. This is something that I need to work on. But so far, I am enjoying their company and so are my other two cats. All 4 cats enjoy each other’s company and it is pretty cute to watch them cuddle and lick each other. 

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Awwww thank you for fostering. Just think, if you find loving homes for them you can save two more babies and give them a change at a good life. It’s sweet your cats cuddle and each other! I wish more of mine would! :)

  7. D W says:

    How sweet that you would do that for Haddie!

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      =^^=
      But of course! Not that she remembers of course! I felt just like I imagine a mom of a 2-legged baby would….worried for her and my heart hurt for her pain/discomfort. 

  8. Luanne57 says:

    Depending on the given day, the amount of actual fosters I have and those I claim as mine can vary.  While technically I have 5 foster kitties, 1 foster dog, my own 3 dogs and my own 8 kitties, for a total of 17!!!…well it truly depends on who I’m talking to and my mood.  Add into all this being in between jobs again, a new bf, and the challenging economy, nobody is really stepping up to the plate to adopt and provide good homes: so right now it leaves just me and I’m ok with that.  Needless to say, they all provide entertainment, keep me on my toes (it’s hard to get too worried about the current state of things when ur busy trying to keep everyone fed, litterboxes up to par-so there’s no surprises-and keeping a close eye on what I call the “specials” i.e .those in my care who have special needs, and job hunting and my own personal needs!), and make any kind of home improvement project a real challenge: not to mention my recent endeavors to try my hand at some creative crafts.  yeah ummmm…feathers, glue and kitties don’t mix that well! lol  (still working on ironing out those glitches!)
    There are days that I am literally pulling my hair out and cursing myself for taking on so much, and then there are others days where I’m laughing hysterically at the animal antics that are going on around me!  At the end of it all, looking at these faces are what makes it all worth it, and reminds me just how fortunate I am to be able to share my life with them! (from left to right, the Bronte sisters (fosters?) and then foster dog Pixie (pure white American Eskimo girl) in the front and my dog Kelly Jo in the back on the thread barren embarrassing matress, previously mentioned lol).

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      omg those Bronte sisters! so NOT fosters any more! ha!
      you and Bonnie both brought up the same point which I think is a great one about not having time to worry about things too much….they are a good distraction.
      I might have to add that to this post!

  9. Sachie+Goma says:

    i love “being in the present” with cats. I totally agree!! Sometime it is s hard to do it I feel like my mind is always past or future…but having a cat really puts me in “present” and enjoy the time with them!!

  10. Marilia Bavaresco says:

    I love this post. Recently the new member arrived in our home: the sweet Aimée. Now we are five cats and two humans!!!
    Kisses
    Aunty Marilia & Bavarescats

  11. Susan says:

    Love this post!  I too can relate, having had four cats at once and now three. I enjoy their individual “purrsonalities” so much, and each has enriched my life in a different way, Henry is my “loving son”, Boots is the “often bratty middle child”, and Misha is my “sweet little girl”. They get along pretty well, and I wouldn’t have it any other way-though getting a good night’s sleep is often a challenge at times due to their differing appetites and biorhythmss!

  12. Sarah Menzies says:

    I love this post BUT I don’t need any suggestions as to why I need a third cat, I need suggestions as to why it will benefit my boyfriend HAHAHA! 

    Maybe I should do a blog post outlining the benefits for BOYFRIENDS in a multiple cat household LOL … 1) You’ll have EVEN MORE time to spend surfing with EVEN LESS complaining from your girlfriend………..

    Hehe ;o) 
    Love your blog as always Tam! xo

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      of COURSE you need a third! You have a boyfriend what do you have to worry about?! I love how your cats look identical!
      Like your idea for a blog post – will need to think on it…or perhaps YOU can write a guest post for me?! :)

      • Sarah Menzies says:

        Oh just saw this reply now Tam, I’d LOVE to do a guest post for you!!!!! :o)
        And if I got a third I’d be determined to get a different looking cat! Even though I love my twinnies! xo

  13. Madame M says:

    For our household less is more. Oogie was very happy being an only cat, perhaps because I work from home and there was always someone around, she was very content. (She also has complete freedom to come and go as she pleases.) Kokoro also doesn’t care for felines or any other animal for that matter, one of the reason he’s such a great P-AT volunteer. (He ignores our rodent co-pets who go out with us on our visits.) Koko on the other hand is not allowed outside, unless he is under supervision. When we brought Koko home, we were able to keep him in a large bedroom, Oogie had the run of the rest of the house and outside, providing each cat with ample territory to call their own. Even with a painfully slow introduction, these two only tolerate each other at best. 
    Oogie was so upset, she lost a quarter of her fur, and now after two years, and lots or reassurance has it now only grown back. 
    Then there is the time I like to spend with them, (koko is a “high” maintenance cat, needing daily grooming and training for his volunteer work) Oogie is easy but of course she needs her time too. We must not also forget my beloved fish and the time they require. (Yup I train them too!)
    I also believe in giving everyone high quality food, treats, staying on top of their medical and dental needs etc. as you know the cost alone for animal ownership does add up.
    So I’m content with my little family. I help the less fortunate aniamls by volunteering and donating when I can.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Awww well I certainly agree that there are ALWAYS exceptions. Your kitties seem to get along now? I’m happy to hear that! Thanks so much for your readership and for taking the time to leave your comment.
      T

  14. Di Parkhouse says:

    Having multiple cats has shown me that they can teach each other positive behaviours. Where once my feral cat was very aggressive to other cats, my younger and more patient and fun-loving cat has shown her that playing with each other can be fun. She is no longer violent, preferring to engage him in playing instead.

  15. Caroline says:

    I love your comment, “you only truly see all aspects of your pets personality in relation to other animals.” It’s so true. Love this post completely. Thinking of adding a third…..

    xo

  16. cloud19th says:

    I never dreamt of my wedding when I was little, but I did dream of how many cats I’d like to have. I grew up in a one-cat household, and I thought, “when I grow up I want two boy cats and a girl. And I’ll get the boy cats first and the girl last because girl cats are territorial so it’d be better to have a girl last.”
    And that’s what happened. Tikhon, a total momma’s boy with asthma, had separation anxiety so we got Pippin to keep him company. Pippin is a nurturing, sensitive little (big) guy. Those two are brothers and friends now. Violet joined us last winter, a fiesty kitten sister who’s still learning how to read the boys’ body language. 
    They have wrestling partners and snuggle buddies in each other. They are bug-finding-and-eating tag teams. Sure, there’s more vacuuming to do and more food to make, but the pure love and trust and joy we have with our “mre-mrows” is worth everything. 

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Wow, you really knew what you wanted and had the right approach at a young age! Funny, i did the same thing without trying really. Kip and Petie first and then Haddie and BOY is SHE territorial! ha! And “mre-mrow” is the PERFECT way to write how they sound! 

  17. Ms. Pants says:

    I always knew I’d be the Crazy Cat Lady, but I didn’t think I’d achieve that status in my 30s.  I thought it would come later on in life.  As it turns out, I’m a terrible fosterer, but I am an ace adopter!  Three of my current five are foster failures and I’m quite glad I’ve got all five of them.

    I spent this past summer going through cancer treatments (I’m okay now) and had to move in with my parents for the duration of the surgery and treatments.  My parents, being the amazing, wonderful, fantastic people they are, also took in my five kitties in addition to their two.  My kitties never left my side this entire summer.  They all claimed different spots of my body to “guard” and made sure they were there when I was sleeping.  I really think they knew what was going on and were trying to protect me.  In addition, they charmed the pants off my parents and kept us all entertained with their Kitty-Nascar races across the tile floors.

    I will always be a multiple-kitty household.  Always.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      LOVE your attitude – “an Ace adopter”! LOVE IT! I’m so sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. So happy it turned out okay, and how lovely that your family was so open to your kitties and amazing how they took care of you. Cats – all animals for that fact – are pretty amazing all around.

  18. Theresa Imparato says:

    I won’t say how many cats I have. Those that know me, know how many I have. Suffice to say, I have a lot. One of the things I find most fascinating is the interpersonal relationships they have with each other.  They all have their buddies or those they don’t like too much. All of my cats have been through the “new” cat thing so many times, they barely blink at a new face. When I took in 6 8-day old kittens whose mother had been shot, three of my other cats mothered them for me so I didn’t have to worry about trying to teach bottle-babies how to be cats. Even now with the kittens 4mo old, the primary nanny!cat, a male orange kitty, still frets over them and follows them around. I have a 22-yr old cat that was dumped at the age of 20. She spent 20yrs as the only cat in her home, now she snuggles with two other cats. They learn. They adapt. They even take care of each other. I always know when one isn’t feeling well because of how the others are acting around him or her. My husband is convinced that pets become a reflection of their owners, and I think he’s right – for the most part. People say cats are aloof. They’ve never met mine. :D 

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Theresa, you have a big heart! I can’t believe someone SHOT A CAT! what is wrong with people! That’s so cute that your cats took care of the babies! so sweet! And i LOVE that you took  in a 20 year old cat. BLESS YOU! xo Interesting theory your hubby has…I will need to think on that. Thanks for sharing. !

  19. Alchow3 says:

    Most of the visitors here foster , therefore, I was wondering if someone can help me out.  I will provide a general background information about myself. I am a grad student that will graduate this Dec. I am currently looking for a job. I have two cats of my own and fostering two right now. They are black and tori and about 4 months old. I have them for about 2 months now. They have been attending adoption events, however, no luck. As you all might know that those two colors arent the most popular ones. I am getting worried because once i graduate, I am moving back home and i dont know what to do with them. I know i can give them back to the rescue group, but I am worried that they might never get adopted or other foster homes might not treat/love them as much as i do.  My dilemma is should i adopt them even though i might not be able to offer them the best (i.e. good food, vet care..etc) but at least they will have my unconditional love or should I give them back to the rescue group and believing that they will eventually find their forever homes.

    thanks

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Hi there! Awww, bless you for taking care of these babies! Where do you live? i ask because I am surprised to hear Torties are not very adoptable (I know the black kittens are not sadly).
      The questions I guess are: 1) how well-equipt do you feel you are for having 2 cats? 2) how good do you feel about the rescue group through which you are fostering?
      Sound s to me like you really love these guys, so i’m more curious as to your hesitations…
      Please feel free to email directly at ihavecat(at)gmail.com or post to my facebook page where others can chime in http://www.facebook.com/ihavecat
      regardless (or is it irregardless?) Thanks for loving the kitties!

  20. paulina says:

    I have 5, they’re all different but all are rescues.
    Kiffy’s my favorite (even though she’s overweight and can’t seem to keep the weight off unless I write everything she eats down and weigh her every day) Garett is her ‘brother’ (foster brother) he was supposed to be a foster cat but they get along so well that we decided to keep him. They’re play fighting right now even though both are around 3y (kiff 8.2008, garett 2-3.2009)
    Kiffy’s the smartest one (does tricks and opens doors and get get you to react someway, always) and teaches patience, Garett used to be a clumsy kitten but is very agile now and always ready to play, he can also make noise. Both tabbies walk on leashes but Kiff is braver.
    We also have to older females: Lily and Taar, who are very calm and usually stay outta the way.
    And the newesst addition Shaary (about 2-3y) who was abused and is extremely shy and Garett keeps chasing him around which stops Shaary (aka Grayer) from adapting to safe life at home and getting adopted.
    Sometimes I kinda whish I didn’t have the cats – then I could do something stupid, like drop a job and worry later but because of them I can’t, they need a home. Maybe that’s a good thing

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Your cats sound like such characters! Bless you for giving an abused kitty a new lease on life…poor thing….just think of all the ways the entertain you and enrich your life.

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