For some of us, one cat is simply not enough. We want more than cats than that, perhaps many more. But a multi-cat household is a risky business. Cats are naturally solitary animals, and some of them do not like sharing their home with a new feline arrival. So when considering bringing a new cat into your home, you’ll need to take a close look at the breed and its personality traits, as well as looking at the cat(s) you already have. So what are the best cats for multi-cat households, and which breeds are likely to get on together?
The best cats for multi-pet homes are those which are social, even-tempered, non-territorial, and adaptable. This may depend more on the individual cat than on a particular breed, and often your best bet may be to go to a good rescue organisation or cat shelter and ask for a suitable cat. Having said that, some cat breeds are better suited to living with a number of felines than other breeds are.
You should look for a breed which is known for getting on with other pets as well as people. It is also a good idea to have a breed which is fairly easy going, and isn't going to mind if your original cat(s) want to be top of the pecking order. You really don't need or want territorial disputes when you have a new feline arrival.
Birmans, Persians, Ragdolls, British Shorthairs, and Ragamuffins are known for being sweet natured and placid. They are unlikely to show aggression towards other cats, and probably won't react if a more established cat tries to put them in their place and demands to be boss.
Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, and Siberians tend to be confident and playful. They usually like other cats, and will often welcome a new arrival as another playmate. These are large cats, so do check that their play does not become too exuberant, particularly if your new arrival is a small kitten. However, generally these breeds tend to be very gentle, and they seem to understand that little kittens must be treated gently.
Looking at slightly less common breeds, Abyssinians, Scottish Folds, Devon Rexes, Manx Cats, and Sphynx cats are all said to get on well with other cats. The Devon Rex is an extremely social cat which doesn’t enjoy spending time alone, and isn’t picky about the people or animals who will keep it company. The intelligent, tailless Manx cats have wonderful personalities and are often described as 'dog-like.' The Scottish Fold is a sweet and adaptable breed that is as comfortable around other animals as it is in a single-owner home. And the Abyssinian is often said to at the top of the list for pet-friendly cats.
There are a few breeds which are really not recommended for multi-cat households, or at least not multi-breed households. Siamese cats tend to get on well with other Siamese cats, and probably with other Orientals. But they are less keen on other cats. They tend to be too dominant and bossy. When I introduced two rescue Siamese to a group of other cats, they very quickly took over, demanded to be top cats, and bullied the resident cats. They seemed to feel that they were special, and should be treated as such. My lap was their property, and they refused to allow my other cats to sit on me, even if they didn't actually want to at that moment! Amazingly, the other cats knuckled down and complied, but it did seem rather unfair. I suspect that not all Siamese cats are like this, but they do tend to have a superior attitude, so do be careful. If you like Siamese and Orientals, you might be advised to stick to those breeds, and not try to mix them with others.
Another breed which must be treated with caution is the Bengal. Bengals are known to sometimes be unpredictable, with a small but significant minority of these active but sociable cats being apparently a little too close to their wild ancestry for comfort. A friend of mine found this with her new Bengal when she tried to introduce it to her resident moggy. The Bengal was determined to be boss, terrorised the original feline resident, and eventually the Bengal had to be rehomed. So again, if you like Bengals, it might be safer to stick to groups of this breed alone.
No matter which breeds you choose, there are some basic rules about teaching new cats to get along together. Make introductions slowly and carefully; this is the basic rule. Generally, keep your new cat in a room alone until it and the more established cat(s) get used to each other's scents. Then introduce the cats to each other slowly, for short periods, while you are around, separating them if all seems not well. Be on the lookout for signs of stress – growling and hissing, trying to hide, urinating outside the litter try, and refusing to eat.
Make sure there are plenty of 'cat resources' ie food bowls, water bowls, cat beds, and litter trays. The usual rule is the number of cats plus one extra for each of these, and have them in different locations in the house. That way, if a more dominant individual decides to guard access to food or the litter tray, there will still be somewhere else for the other cat(s). And try to provide high up places for less dominant cats to hide.
The above suggestions are probably more important than the exact mix of breeds, since all cats are individual. Above all, be flexible. All cats are different, and while some will make friends almost instantly, others will take weeks or even months. A few will never get along with each other, but if you are patient, this is quite rare.