We have a female cat named Polly who we believe is about 17 years old. She’s always been shy; no one has ever been able to pet her or get close to her. We adopted her with her twin sister Molly. Both of them hid under the china cabinet the first year we had them. Last year, Molly, who became our social, loving girl, died from kidney failure. Now, in the last week, Polly has become very friendly and loving and allows my wife and myself to pet her and pick her up. She sits with my wife every night. Should we be concerned with this change is personality?
– George & Bonnie
Dear George and Bonnie,
Animals living in multi-pet households often change their behaviors whenever another pet is added or leaves the household in some way. It’s quite possible Molly was protective of you and your wife and kept Polly away with subtle body language gestures.
Don’t worry about the change in behavior though. Becoming friendly and loving is never a sign of a disease or illness, so celebrate Polly’s new outgoing nature – and don’t adopt another cat right now to replace Molly. If you do, Polly could respond by hiding again. Instead, let Polly be the solo cat in your household so that she can enjoy attention from both of you for the remainder of her life. She has a lot of catching up to do.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal