Thinking about a kitten? Consider adopting two. Acquiring a pair of kittens is good for their physical and emotional health and fun for their humans. Here’s what to know.
Anne is a curious caramel tiger kitten, who chirps sweetly to herself as she goes about her day, jumping in and out of laps, proudly carrying her toys. With splotches of gray on his white coat, Ron is a big-footed snuggle fiend who will purr and knead his paws when he sees you in the morning. They love wrestling, watching squirrels, and getting chin scratches. They bathe each other, nap together, and will melt your heart over and over again.
A Special Bond
Ron and Anne, fostered by Katharine Miessau with Branford Compassion Club, were from a litter of five kittens, all very close. But the bond between Ron and Anne was apparent only after Ron was taken to an adoption event. Miessau said he was frightened and hid under the blanket the whole time. “When we got home,” she says, “Ron beelined to his sister Anne and smooshed his little body against hers as tightly as he could. Anne gave him a thorough bath and he dozed to sleep.”
In the days following the adoption event, Miessau says Anne and Ron were together and engaged in play more often than they played alone. They slept in the same bed, ate out of the same bowl, even when Miessau put down separate bowls for each, and explored the house as a dynamic duo.
“I started looking back through photos of their litter and saw that again and again, even when they were teeny and surrounded by their siblings, they were side by side,” Miessau says.
Obviously, there’s nothing cuter than a litter of kittens playing together, but often, as with Anne and Ron, there are two who just have a special bond. Call it anthropomorphizing, but separating them sounds heartbreaking, which is why experienced shelter workers or those who foster take that into consideration when placing their charges. Even older cats can develop close relationships.
Kittens With Benefits
There are few downsides to adopting a pair of kittens. Two is seldom more work than one and can make a world of difference in their everyday wellbeing.
A pair of kittens is good company for each other if they’re alone during the day. Let’s face it, working at home is not an option for most people, and it could be scary for a lone kitten to be wandering around the house all day. A buddy provides security and companionship.
Kittens learn from each other, continuing the socialization process. The importance of socialization cannot be overstated. The more kittens interact with each other, the more they learn about the boundaries they can cross with each other – or not: You get smacked if you bite your buddy too hard and you learn not to do it. (It goes without saying that humans and kittens should never interact this way. Physical reprimands from humans can create fear, not something you want in your relationship.)
Kittens are curious and need stimulation. Rather than sleeping all day, they can explore the world together.
They expend their energy on each other rather than your ankles. With their boundless energy, kittens may target anything that’s moving, including vulnerable ankles. Chances are good that with a buddy, that energy will be deflected to playing with him.
A pair takes the pressure off an older cat. When looking to add to their feline family, people may worry about the reaction of a senior resident, who may be a bit frail or used to being alone. Two kitten buddies are less likely to stress out the oldster, making the adjustment for all go more smoothly.
There’s less chance of boredom for inside cats. Boredom can lead to unwanted behavior – scratching in forbidden locations, overgrooming, food obsessions, and perhaps even litter box avoidance. Despite the perception that cats are solitary creatures, when you see kittens playing together, it’s clear that nothing could be further from the truth.
A pair of kittens is not a substitute for the human interaction that’s essential for happy, healthy cats. You are their world, and just because they have each other doesn’t mean you don’t have to train and play with them and offer environmental enrichment, but the presence of a feline companion and playmate, one he’s known from birth, can only enhance a cat’s life in your home.
Because of their bond, Ron stayed with Miessau for an extra month, until Anne was spayed. Miessau’s tender loving fostering and Branford Compassion Club’s publicity worked – Ron and Anne were adopted together just before Christmas by an adoring family overflowing with love. They were renamed, appropriately, Peace and Love.
Miessau observes, “As a foster auntie, I could not be happier, and I’m so grateful that they showed me their kinship and love in time to help me ensure that they would be together forever.”
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.