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I have a 7-year-old female cat, adopted from the Humane Society last September. About a month ago we moved from a two-story house into a smaller one-bedroom condo. Perhaps because I brought a lot of familiar furniture, she seems not to be very anxious in this new place, but she's become rather inactive. She has perches to look out the windows, but there's not as interesting of a view as there was at the last place. She doesn't play with toys unless I'm controlling them, and even then she loses interest pretty quickly, and I'm not always home. She has also become pickier about her food and water - she won't eat dry food any more, and she doesn't drink water any more. I'm afraid that she's understimulated.

For this reason and others, I'm considering, in the near future, adopting a second cat. I understand that a young male cat would be the best choice in this situation. But I don't know whether my cat would actually get along with another cat. At the house we lived at previously, she and the neighbour's cat would sometimes fight at the window, and those are the only interactions between her and another cat that I've witnessed - but they were never properly introduced or anything like that, so I don't know that I can predict how she would interact with a new roommate based on that. I don't want to go and adopt another cat and have her hating me and the intruder forever...

My question is: are there any behavioural signs, that I can observe without having another cat around, that might indicate whether she could coexist with or even enjoy the company of another cat? Am I misguided in thinking in the first place that adopting a second cat could be a way to bring some life into her?

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The first thing you should do is take her to your vet and describe the changes you've seen in her behavior. Any behavioral change, especially a change in eating/drinking habits and general depression, can be a sign of illness. Cats are very good at hiding illness!

Once you are sure that your cat is healthy, then you can consider another cat. Many cats prefer to be the only cat in their territory, especially in smaller homes and apartments.

One way to find out how your cat does is to contact your local rescue organization and offer to foster a cat. Fostering is a short term arrangement where you allow another cat to live in your home, interact with you and your family members, and let the rescue organization know more about the cat's personality (is the foster a lap cat, talkative, etc) and interactions with other pets in your home (does the foster get along with your resident cat, for example). This information allows potential adopters to know how well the foster cat will fit in their home before they bring the cat home.

The benefit for you is that you can observe your cat's attitude towards the new cat. Also, if they get along really well, you can adopt the foster yourself. If they tolerate each other, you can continue to foster until you find a really good match. If your cat HATES the foster cat, then once the foster cat is adopted, you can let the rescue agency know that you can't foster any more.

It's important to be upfront with the rescue agency about your goals in this type of arrangement! Fostering is really important work and there are never enough people willing and able to foster.

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