Are two cats happier than one? With the right match, your feline duo could live a healthier, merrier, longer life. There are many combinations you could bring home based on age or relation.
Adopting Two Kittens at Once
Bringing home a pair of kittens not only doubles the fun, but can ensure your pets always have companionship. However, many owners still wonder if kitten siblings are the best route to take.
Most stray kittens are found in litters -- either abandoned by their mothers due to her death or found and collected while mom is out looking for food. Therefore, it's common to see pairs or groups of littermates available for adoption. These sibling kittens are already bonded and can serve as a comfort and companion to each other in their new home.
But if you have a sibling yourself, you know that the relationship isn't always butterflies and rainbows. Cats can behave in the same way. There's no guarantee that two littermates will get along any better than two unrelated cats, as they could grow apart when they mature. It's something only time will tell.
However, in many cases, littermate kittens develop a special bond. There's even a phenomenon called "littermate syndrome" that describes the strong relationship these pairs develop. With littermate syndrome, siblings are so attached that they become co-dependent and can even experience separation anxiety when they're apart. This behavior is more commonly seen in dogs than cats.
Combining different litters isn't uncommon in the shelter setting, as space and resources aren't always abundant. Try to choose a pair of kittens who are similar in age and personality to increase their chances of getting along. Again, there's no promise that they'll become best friends or won't grow apart as they age.
Adopting Two Adult Cats at Once
Although kittens can bring so much joy to a household, they can also be a lot of work. Instead, you might be interested in adopting two adult cats.
Many shelters adopt out duos of cats as bonded pairs. These cats likely grew up together and were relinquished together due to their owner's death or some other circumstance, or perhaps they grew attached in the same shelter enclosure while awaiting adoption. In most cases, separating cats with a special bond could result in two very sad cats. For this reason, these pairs are often overlooked by owners seeking one cat and may have to wait longer to find their forever home. So, if you're looking to adopt two cats at once, this could be the perfect opportunity.
Although these cats were best friends in their previous home or at the shelter, there's always a chance the dynamic could change after you bring them home. Keep in mind that felines are very sensitive to their environment. You should still take steps to initiate a calm and stress-free transition for bonded pairs.
Unrelated Adult Cats
If you happen to connect with two separate adult cats, you may wonder if you can bring them both home. This is definitely a possibility, but there's also a chance it may not work out. Cats are solitary creatures by nature. In the wild, they typically hunt and eat solo, although some cat species form colonies like a lion pride. So as domestic cats reach maturity, there is usually some degree of territorial struggle. This is not a hard rule, but it is frequently the case.
The shelter or rescue staff should have an understanding of each cat's personality and can advise whether they'd be a good match. In general, cats with similar personalities are more compatible; therefore, they may recommend pairing two calm cats, two playful, dominant cats, or two timid cats. In addition to personality, gender may play a role in pairings. Coupling a neutered male cat with another neutered male or female cat may be wisest, as male cats are typically more compliant. But all cats are individuals, so it can be challenging to predict how they'll engage.
You could ask the facility if they'd be willing to do a meet-and-greet with two cats of your choosing. However, this might not be a great indication of whether they'll tolerate each other, as they'll likely be edgy in the foreign shelter environment. The only way to know if they'll truly connect is to provide them with patient love while slowly introducing them to your home.
Adopting Two Cats of Mixed Ages
What about a kitten and adult cat pairing? This scenario might be the best of both worlds. It's likely that the adult cat will take on the dominant role and put your new kitten in its place, so you won't have to worry about territorial dynamics. But you should consider the age and health of the older cat. A rambunctious kitten may be too much for an elderly cat that simply wants to sleep all day. Be sure to match their energy levels to ensure your kitten has a suitable playmate.
Considerations When Adopting or Introducing Two Cats
Whatever the age range or relation of the two cats you've chosen, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind.
- Personalities. It's important to match the personalities of the two cats you bring home or your new cat to your existing pet. Understandably, a dominant cat will only further intimidate an already timid partner. Instead, two shy cats might complement each other more appropriately, or two confident cats who can play more enthusiastically and keep each other in line.
- Reproductive status. Hormones can not only play a role in behavior among cats, but they can also lead to unexpected pregnancies -- even amongst siblings. Be sure to have your cats spayed or neutered at the appropriate age to ensure this doesn't occur.
- Slow introduction. You'll want to gradually introduce your new pets to each other and your new home. Confine the newcomer(s) to a separate room so as not to overwhelm them too soon. Create positive experiences surrounding the new environment and new housemate. Always supervise any encounters until you're confident the two cats feel comfortable with each other and their new home.
- Address conflicts. There's always a possibility that your existing cat or both new cats could act out. Social conflict or solo passive-aggressive behaviors, such as spraying, can occur. To avoid these scenarios, it's important to set your cats up for success with adequate time, space, and attention as they embark on this transition. Be patient -- it could take weeks or even months for your cats to bond.
Help Your Feline Meet Their Match
Adding a new cat to your household or adopting two cats at once is an exciting experience. There are numerous benefits to providing cats with companions, but finding the right match is critical to everyone's success.