The Benefits of Adopting a Pair of Kittens

Reed and Rowan, 6-month-old purring machines, are the longest residents at the Clifton Animal Shelter in New Jersey. The siblings were brought to the shelter with their mom and two brothers who have all gone to forever homes.

“We call them the dream team. They sleep on top of one another, and they purr while sleeping, eating and playing,” said Liz Taranda, vice president of the shelter and cat room manager. “They are lap cats who love to be held together while giving nose rubs to whoever is holding them.”

The brothers are bonded and will only be adopted into the same home. It’s not unusual for shelters and rescue groups to encourage potential adopters to adopt a pair of kittens rather than going home with one cat. The Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue in San Jose, CA, requires that young kittens be adopted in pairs unless adopters have an existing kitten or young cat at home. According to the shelter, this policy is not based on a desire to increase adoptions but rather to ensure that kittens are adopted into homes that offer the best possible environment for their social development.

Besides saving two lives, there are many advantages to adopting kittens in pairs. Kittens tend to need more time and attention than adult cats and two together will keep each other company. The acclimation to a new home will go smoother, too, because a bonded pair of kittens won’t need separate transitional rooms. All they require is one litter box and two dishes (also true when adopting an older bonded pair of cats).

Two little kittens playingKittens need interaction with other kittens for healthy social development. 

Image credit: Thinkstock

“When you adopt a pair of kittens you get double the unconditional love,” Taranda said. “Having two kittens together also makes it easier if you have to go to work every day. They are at home cuddling and spending time together instead of feeling lonely and crying at the door all day waiting for you to come home.”

Staff at the Clifton shelter never try to convince potential adopters to take two kittens if they only came looking for one cat. It’s not unusual, though, for visitors to go home with double the fun after observing kittens interacting with one another in the playroom. Sometimes it’s an older bonded pair that wins the hearts of visitors.

That’s what happened to Tracey Pirozzi when she visited the Clifton shelter after losing two of her cats within six months of one another. She wanted a companion for her one remaining cat. A longtime volunteer and animal advocate, she asked to meet cats overlooked by other visitors. Pirozzi ended up adopting a pair of bonded 4-year-old siblings and named them Mystique and Mikah. They were hard to place because they were black, older cats who couldn’t be separated. The pair has settled beautifully into their new home.

“There’s definitely an advantage to adopting two cats together,” Pirozzi said. “They keep each other company and play together, which definitely deters them from getting into mischief.”

mystiqueandmikahBonded siblings Mystique and Mikah keep each other company in their new home. Image credit: Courtesy of Tracey Pirozzi

Why it’s a good idea to adopt kittens in pairs:

    • Kittens need interaction with other kittens for healthy social development. A kitten learns a lot in the first several months of life from its mother and littermates. Kittens who are able to remain with a sibling 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.
    • Even loving, caring, humans are not adequate substitutes for kitten companionship. A pair of kittens will definitely still want to interact with people but can keep each other occupied.
    • Kittens bite and wrestle with one another—this behavior is normal. Though it’s 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, by the time the kitten matures, you will end up with an adult cat who has developed very bad habits.
    • A single kitten is not a good companion for an older cat. Kittens have boundless energy. They want to play and run constantly, which typically overwhelms and irritates an older cat. Likewise, a kitten is apt to be frustrated that its companion doesn’t have its same level of energy. It’s unlikely that the two will 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 kitty is better matched with a cat closer to its own age and temperament.

Source: The Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue in San Jose, CA.

Cat Behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett’s article Adopting a Kitten? Make it a Double offers good information on the benefits of adopting kittens in pairs. 

Photo Credit: Clifton Animal Shelter

75 comments

Ruth S
Ruth S3 months ago

Thanks.

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Sophie A
Sophie A3 months ago

thank you

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h4 months ago

tyfs

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Sonia M

Love cats :).Great article, thanks for sharing

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Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago

TYFS

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Renata B
Renata B4 months ago

I am sure that it doesn't matter how much time we dedicate to our animals, they also need interactions with their same species. That is a very important aspect. Our love and attention are essential, but not sufficient. I started with one cat I rescued from the streets, when I was young and she lived all her life with me. I think she was happy and I dedicated her a lot of time to play. We were extremely close. However I promised myself never again a single animal. It is not fair. OK, we have only one dog, it is true, but he has a lot of friends in the park that he meets every day. That is ok.

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Renata B
Renata B4 months ago

Yes, very expensive - especially when they get old and ill - but we all need to prioritise and make choices. We really spent a lot on them but there are two points to this: 1. don't buy insurances: they cost a lot and when you claim they always invent some excuse. Instead: put a specific amount away every month and you will find yourself covered up without any waste. Second point: we have a very simple life. We don't go on holidays for example, i.e. we enjoy our house and garden and the company of our animals. We don't spend money on so called everyday expenses that are not actually important, just habit and peer-pressure. Our mobiles are pay-as-you-go, the simplest type, no internet, just making calls for example.We travel by public transport (we are on the outskirts of a large city), no car (they are very expensive) and so on ... We often see people complaining to be short of money but we see how much they waste on a regular basis. Think of it.

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Renata B
Renata B4 months ago

LOL, I got an entire family (long story...): two parents and five babies. The best experience of my life. And when I met my husband ... well I often say that he married me not in spite of my cats but BECAUSE of my cats. They were easy maintenance. We adopted a puppy (still with us) and he made me cry many times for the terrible things he did in the house. In one month, he alone managed to make more damages than my seven in all their lives.

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Ann B
Ann B4 months ago

please flag past member they are a spammer and have been reported

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Ann B
Ann B4 months ago

First the vets charge way to much--NOT everyone can afford to take the animals.....so many dont get neutered...small towns that have humane society's are FULL -- some cast have been there 6 years...but if you can afford to adopt please take 2 --they are already use to each other and all animals need companionship--i HATE to see a chained dog alone sitting there day after day just waiting for the owner to throw food on the ground and leave--no petting no love no time to run and play....terrible!!! and if you try to suggest they call the police-and then YOU are the bad guy

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