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Why Kittens & Young Cats Should Be Adopted In Pairs

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Why Kittens & Young Cats Should Be Adopted In Pairs

Kittens are curious and crave constant stimulation. A single, bored kitten will often entertain itself by chewing on plants, climbing drapes, climbing furniture, unrolling toilet paper, exploring electrical cords and sockets, etc. This is not to say that kittens who live with other kittens won't also sometimes do these things, but if they have another kitten to tumble around and play with, it is less likely that they will need to entertain themselves with behaviors like these, which at the least are destructive and at the worst can be very dangerous.

Kittens tend to be very active at night. A single kitten is likely to keep the owner awake with constant jumping, pouncing and other hunting behavior directed at any portion of the owner's body which moves under the bed linens. With a companion to play with after the owner has gone to bed, this behavior is minimized as the two will occupy each other by finding interesting shadows to chase and games to play until they finally tire and fall asleep too.

Kittens want and need interaction with others of their own kind for healthy social development. A kittens learns a lot in the first several months of life from its mother and littermates. Separating a kitten from its mother is often a necessity in order for it to be adopted, but taking it away from its littermates and isolating it can delay the kitten's development emotionally, socially and sometimes physically. Kittens who are able to remain with one of their littermates or a similarly-aged companion, tend to be healthier and happier, and in the long run, better socialized pets than those who are isolated from others of their kind at an early age.

Anyone who has observed kittens know they want to bite and wrestle with one another--this behavior is normal. You cannot prevent a kitten from doing what comes naturally anymore than you can force a two year old toddler to sit still. Though it is not acceptable for a kitten to bite and wrestle with its human companions, in the absence of having a littermate or companion its own age to play with, this is precisely what a single kitten will want to do. Even if you are willing to allow (and can tolerate) this behavior from your kitten when it is small, by the time the
animal matures, you will end up with an adult cat who has developed very bad habits (for example, biting and scratching as "play").
Humans, even loving, caring humans, are not an adequate substitute for a cat in lieu of one of its own kind. Even if the owner is fortunate enough to be home quite a bit, the amount of attention a lone kitten will demand is likely to occupy all of the owner's waking hours at home. A pair of kittens will definitely still want to interact with the owner, but can keep each other occupied while the owner is doing such necessary tasks as working, paying bills, having telephone conversations, gardening, laundry, etc. Most cats, regardless of their age, are highly sociable and are truly happier living with other cat companions. This in turn makes them better pets, which results in happier owners.

Particularly if there is already an older cat in the household, a kitten should not be brought in as a lone companion. As mentioned above, a youngster has boundless energy, wants to play and run constantly, and requires very high amounts of interaction, all of which are likely to overwhelm and irritate an older cat in short order. Likewise, a kitten is apt to be frustrated that its companion does not have the same energy level as itself. At the very least, this can lead to two very unhappy cats. Worse-case scenario, behavior problems such as litter box avoidance or destructive scratching can occur if one or both cats act out their frustrations on their surroundings. Longer-term, it is almost certain that the two will never have a close, bonded relationship, even after the kitten matures, since their experiences with one another from the beginning of the relationship are likely to be negative. An older cat is better matched with someone of his or her own age, who has a similar temperament.

Adopting a single kitten or young cat is simply not a good idea. Trying to keep a single kitten occupied, stimulated, safe and happy while also going about the business of everyday life is much more of a challenge than it may seem upon first consideration.

At PAWS Chicago, our goal is not simply to do large numbers
of adoptions, but rather to ensure that the animals adopted
from our program are getting a home for life. Recognizing that even when a potential adopter has carefully thought through
the decision to make the lifetime commitment of adopting animal, brining a new pet home inevitably creates big changes.
Minimizing the factors which are likely to cause stress to an
owner, both in the beginning and on an ongoing basis (like

being repeatedly pounced on in the middle of the night, or having the brand-new draperies shredded) is therefore the best thing we as volunteers can do to achieve that goal.

We understand and accept that someone out there will probably adopt or sell you a single kitten (even if all the major cat shelters in Chicago will not). With that in mind, please think long and hard about forcing a kitten to become an only child. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she created kittens in litters!
post #2 of 23
I totaly agree with that . I am sure glad I had more cats when I took Lily in a 5 month old kitten , at least she could pick on the other cats some . She still try to catch my food unter the bed with 7 month , but has calm down a lot . And when they are in pairs they are not lonely and have always a companian to be with
post #3 of 23
I also agree. When I got my first cat, Max, I admittedly didn't know much about cats. I had dogs for my whole life and he was my first experience with the feline species. I wish that I would have adopted one of his littermates as well. They were all feral but I think it would have helped to socialize them as well. We ended up getting a kitten a year later though.
post #4 of 23
Excellent, very well put indeed. I know our 6 kittens who grew up together (littermates) are some of the most well-adjusted cats I've met. And when we got little Question this past August (he was a 5 weeks old former feral), the younger cats were thrilled to have a new playmate. Phoenix took him under her wing for the first few weeks, we called her "The Babysitter". Question is almost never seen alone, he will follow any and all of the others around, play with them, cuddle with them, wrestle with them, snuggle up and nap with them. No doubt in my mind that he is happy to have other cats around.

His play was very rough in the beginning, which was to be expected, given his background. The other cats tolerated him like the child he is, sheathing their claws to swat at him when he got too annoying , teaching him what was acceptable and what was not. He still likes to bite, but he lets go right away now and he also has learned to come up for headbumps, scritches and kisses just like the big kitties do.
post #5 of 23
I'll vouch for that article! I've been bringing in pairs every time I have the opportunity and I consider mine highly adjusted. I have 14 cats here and little if any animosity between them (well, except Shep the loner). They stick with each other for a long time, then eventually bond with another cat (or cats) in the house. In a multi-cat household, it can be overwhelming to them when they first come in the house. I quarantine them at first, and being together gives them comfort, and when that door opens to the rest of the house, they have each other when they get scared.

Here are my pairs - each pair has their family name also:

Tigger and Eightball (the "Goofballs")
Pinky and Ruby (the "Bruncles", Ruby has crossed the bridge)
Morrison and Hendrix (the "Rockstars" both crossed the bridge this summer from FeLV)
Muddy and Koko (the "Kitteninos" or "Blues Kittens")
Dakota and Sage (the "Igamus" - Lakota Sioux for cat)
Spanky and Little Oscar (the "Little Rascals" - not brothers, but found together)

I kept Scarlett's littermates until they were about 12-14 weeks old before adopting them out. Bogart had a little buddy Boris, who we lost young to FIP. The rest of my babies (Shep, Stumpy, Bob) were found alone.
post #6 of 23
Thanks again for sharing this article with me TNR1. We have a 2 for 1 special on kittens under 6 months at our shelter right now so I ran this article off and posted it to cages and to our front desk. Because of it we've had 2 sets of kittens go home together and today we had a 2 year old and a 7 month old adopted because of the people reading the article. Whoever wrote this should be commended for such a well written article. Thank you!
post #7 of 23
I think it is grea to have two or more cats. neo and moe grew up together and our 8 kittens are all with in two monthes of each others age and get along wonderful! They all groom and love each other (and the big cats) After all with only one kitty who is going to clean the top of there head
post #8 of 23
I agree completely! My Simon has always had another cat around. He had an older kitty to look up to when he was a kitten (my roommates cat, Lucy) and then when he was a bit older, my boyfriend got a kitten (Max) and Simon got to be the teacher. Simon and Max are best of friends. When Simon had to spend four days in the vet, Max wandered the house looking for his buddy!
post #9 of 23
May I make a copy of this to use are the kill shelter I have started doing some vol. work at? Kim
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Very good question...I don't think that PAWS Chicago would have an issue...but it's better to contact them and check:


They have some other excellent information regarding scratching and also myths about cats.

post #11 of 23
I too would like to use this with my rescue group.
post #12 of 23
I have one spayed, female, cat who is estimated to be about 16 months old. It has been suggested by some co-workers and friends that I get a playmate for her. Sometimes I think it's a good idea, especially when she wants to play a lot whenever I'm home. I live alone in a small apartment and work during the day so I'm her only source of companionship, except when my boyfriend comes to visit. She doesn't bother me during the night, but I'm sure she's active because toys are moved and food in her bowl disappears.

The only problem I have with getting another cat is potential stress to my current cat by another cat invading her territory. I have read articles about how to slowly introduce the new cat to the old cat but I'm not sure that ideally works in a small apartment as compared to a house that has more rooms.

I should point out that I make time to play with her at least 2x per day for about 30 minutes each session. We play hunting, stalking, and chasing games.
post #13 of 23
I introduced a two year old cat to my two year old in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and they get along great. So it is possible I kept Mosley in the bathroom, or a small walk-in closet and eventually my bedroom until they were used to each other enough. My advice though, keep them completely apart for like two weeks in case the new one brings home an illness like Mo did. Feel free to PM me if you want any more info on how I introduced them. Getting Mo was the best thing ever, I would really recommend adopting another kitty if you can! Good luck!!
post #14 of 23
It is policy at our shelter that a kittens under a year must be adopted in pairs, unless there is another cat in the home. There is no policy about the age of the pet at home, but we often try to talk people out of putting a kitten with older cats because we know it will drive the older cat crazy. People get upset at our policy, but usually those are the people who are coming in looking for one 8 week old kitten (usually a specific color also) and won't even think of an adult cat.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hey Rang..there is an excellent article about that as well:

Common Misconceptions About Cats

Misconception #1:
Cats are low-maintenance pets.

While a cat does not need to be taken out for daily walks as a dog does, they are by no means low-maintenance--either in the amount of interaction they require or in the financial responsibility they represent.

Taking on a pet of any kind is a large commitment in terms of both time and money. Cats are social animals who want and need interaction with their owners. As with any animal, cats cannot communicate verbally with their owners, so it is the owner's responsibility to be constantly watchful of the animals behavior and alert to any abnormalities. Those who believe that cats can take care of themselves will be unaware of subtle behavioral changes that can be signs of the onset of serious illness or injury.

In terms of financial commitment, cat owners should plan to spend between $800 to $1,000 per year per cat on the basics: food, litter and regular vet care. These costs, of course, increase dramatically should an illness or injury occur which would require additional vet care and/or hospitalization.

Misconception #2:
Cats can be left alone for a few days at a time and will take care of themselves.

Not true at all! If an owner is going to be gone for more than 12-14 hours, someone else should be assigned or hired to look in on and take care of the cat. Cats who are left alone for long periods of time can get into all sorts of trouble, become depressed, and even get sick. For example, a cat who develops a urinary track infection can become critically in in less than 24 hours. Therefore, if you are even planning just a short weekend getaway, a pet sitter or a friend should be looking in on the cat at least twice per day. This person should plan to stay for a minimum of one hour so they can observe the cat and make note of any behavioral abnormalities (ideally, it should be someone who knows the cat fairly well so the better to notice if something seems different). Of course, the caregiver should be provided with contact information for the owner as well as the phone number to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic and copies of all the animal's medical record.

Misconception #3:
Cats need to go outdoors and hunt in order to be happy, this is natural for them.

In today's world, letting your cat outdoors for any reason or any length of time is akin to playing Russian Roulette. Outdoor cats are at risk for injury or death as a result of disease, other animals, poison, sadistic people, animal "bunchers" who collect strays and outdoor pets to sell to laboratories, cars, foul weather, and a host of other dangers.

Outdoor cats have an average life span of five to seven years, as opposed to their indoor counterparts, who frequently live to be 15 or older. We have domesticated our pets, and as such a responsibility to take care of them and look out for their well being. Your cat may look longingly out the window as though he wants to go out, but the bottom line is that it is not safe. Creating a stimulating environment for them inside your home with cat trees, toys, etc., and giving your pets lots of attention and exercise will ensure that they have a full and enriched life while remaining safely indoors.

Misconception #4:
Pregnant women cannot live safely with a cat.

Many physicians mistakenly inform their patients that they must get rid of their cat or cats in order to ensure the safety of their unborn child. This misconception is based on fear of a parasitic disease called Toxoplasmosis, which can be transmitted from a variety of sources to a pregnant woman and can be dangerous to her fetus.

Cats are exposed to this parasite through the ingestion of live prey (for example, mice) and it can be passed by the cats to humans through handling the cat's feces, which most commonly occurs during litter box cleaning. However, assuming the cats are indoor animals (not catching live prey), there is no danger that a pregnant women or her unborn baby will contract the parasite from the cat. In fact, pregnant women run more risk of exposing their baby to Toxoplasmosis by handling raw or undercooked meat in their kitchen than by handling their indoor cat.

That said, as a precaution, it is best for another family member to be responsible for litter box cleaning during the pregnancy (and good practice, since after the baby is born, Mom is certain to have her hands full and this task may need to be permanently reassigned) or alternatively, for the mother-to-be to wear gloves and wash her hands thoroughly after cleaning the box if she must do it herself. Pregnant women should also use caution when gardening in outdoor areas, which may have been used by strays as open-air litter box.

Misconception #5:
A declawed cat is safer for a home with small children than one which has claws.

In fact, exactly the opposite is true. A declawed cat, feeling as though its first line of defense is missing, is much more likely to be a biter. Children often do things that may irritate a cat, such as pulling its ears or tail, and the animal's natural reaction is to defend itself. A declawed cat does not have the option scratching the child as a deterrent so it is likely to bite first and ask questions later.

Unfortunately, while a scratch tends to be superficial and will heal easily, bits are puncture wounds and are serious injuries to anyone, especially a young child.

Expectant or new parents who declaw their cats in hopes that it will protect their children are actually exposing them to much more serious injuries. Children should be taught as early as possible how to appropriately interact with the family cat, minimizing the occasions on which the cat may need to defend itself.

It goes without saying that for the safety of both the child
and the animal, young children should never be left unsupervised for any length of time with any kind of pet.

Misconception #6:
My Older cat needs a kitten to liven him up!

In general, adopting a kitten (1½ years or younger) as a companion for an older cat ( 5 years and older) is not a good idea. A youngster has boundless energy, wants to play and run constantly, and requires very high amounts interaction--all of which are likely to overwhelm and irritate an older cat in short order. Likewise, a kitten is apt to be frustrated that its companion does not have the same energy level as itself. At the very least, this can lead to two very unhappy cats. Worse case scenario, behavior problems such as litter ox avoidance or destructive scratching can occur as one or both cats act out their frustrations on their surrounds. Long-term, it is almost certain that the two will never have a close, bonded relationship, even after the kitten matures, since their experience with one another from the beginning of the relationship are likely to be negative. An older cat is better matched with someone of their own age who has similar temperament. Likewise, kittens as a rule need other young cats to play with in order to be happy. If you insist on adding a kitten to a household that already has an older cat, at least get two--this way they will entertain one another and the older cat can participate or not depending on its mood.

post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Miss Charlotte..hey there...I live in a condo and I have 2 cats...you are right...the area is much "smaller" than a house...but often..cats will work out their unique 'places'. I recommend making lots of spaces for your cats...some high some lower....I put blankets on top of my book cases and have towels on some storage cubbies..I also have 3 of those "cat beds" just in case my cats decide they prefer to use the beds.

For a cat..I would recommend getting another cat (preferably one that has a history of getting along with other cats) that has a similiar temperment.

post #17 of 23
I completely agree with this! I will only bring sibling kittens in together if I have my way. (Amelia & Zoey are sisters) (Casey and Clarence are brothers) Pairs are always better! (Isabelle is Audrey's mother so that's the exception in my group)

How does this work with older cats btw? I've never adopted an older cat and as a result I know nothing about it. Do you have an article on how to pick up behavior to look for when you are at a shelter and want to adopt an older cat?
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hey Monica's Six...I think for "older cats"....the rules are different as some prefer to be the ONLY cat.

post #19 of 23
TNR1 - Charlotte is still the only "child" in the apartment since I last posted in this thread back in January. She's now approaching 2 years of age (August) and still has plenty of playfulness in her. I'm still very new to the world of cats. In fact, July will be one year of living with Charlotte. She likes to bolt through the hallway and loves to walk in front of me wherever I'm going. She is nosey and can't resist being apart of what's happening. She's not one to run and hide even when meeting new people.

I really don't have much room for more than one litter box in my apartment. I used to have the litter box in the kitchen near the food which wasn't a problem until I changed her litter from regular, unscented clay to World's Best. Apparently, she didn't like the smell of World's Best near her food and began peeing else where. I put a second box in the livingroom. She was immediately content and stopped using the one in the kitchen. I guess some cats share litter boxes. Sometimes when I scoop out her daily waste, she charges me, tackles my thigh and nips at my thigh as though she's protecting her territory. It's not often but I imagine if I were a cat, I wouldn't be welcomed to use that box.

From the beginning, I wanted to give one skinny, skittsih, stray cat a good home. I have done that in the past 11 months with Charlotte. She's become very settled now and also has become the queen of her domain.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
MissCharlotte..there is nothing wrong with having an "only" cat...some cats do prefer to be the sole cat of the household.

I do NOT recommend single kittens...they should be adopted with another kitten or a cat.

post #21 of 23
Agree about adopting in pairs! When we have a litter, we always do this. If there is an odd number of kittens, like 5, we don't adopt the remaining one to anyone who does not have another friendly kitty at home.

The thought of an 8 week old kitten sitting alone all day, if owners work, is just too sad for us!!
post #22 of 23
Someone once said to me, imagine that as a young child you were removed from contact with all other humans. Even if you had plenty of food, water, medical care, and say contact with another species (maybe you were raised by wolves), do you think you could grow up to be a happy and well adjusted human? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious, so why would we think a cat is different?
post #23 of 23
I have four cats, they are 'two pairs'. although all play, groom and sleep together. I cannot imagine any of them being an 'only' cat. They would get depressed I am sure. The other article about leaving cats on their own I fully agree with too. 24 hours just seems much too long, anything could happen in that time, and they are much too precious to suffer unnecessarily.
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