Ask a Behaviorist
Share this image

Is Having Two Cats Better Than Having One?

Contrary to behavior myths about being loners, most cats do well with other cats; here are reasons why and tips for adopting more than one cat.

 |  Aug 15th 2014  |   80 Contributions


Although cats hunt alone, that does not mean they want to live alone.

Some people mistakenly assume cats are loners and that they prefer to keep their own company and not socialize with other felines. Because of this, many cats are destined to live alone, without the benefits that come from socializing with their own species.

Most are social and enjoy the company of other cats, especially bonded pairs. And, cats who don’t initially know each other often become best buddies after they are gradually introduced. Others enjoy each other's company by simply hanging out together in the same room.

Here are three reasons to live with more than one cat at a time:

1. Cats chase away each other's boredom

Often cats are left alone for hours every day with very little mental or physical stimulation while their favorite people work long hours. Singletons can become bored and morph into couch potatoes, become depressed or develop troublesome behaviors. Living with a buddy or buddies keeps them all entertained -- playing, cuddling and sometimes just sharing a room together.

The authors cats snuggling together by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC.

2. Kittens provide fun for each other and teach life lessons

Kittens, by design, are little energy machines. Everyone and every item in their world becomes a target for stalking, pouncing, and play. It is impossible for people to become full-time playmates for these little ones. A built-in perfect solution is adopting more than one kitten -- they keep each other occupied and entertained.

In addition to keeping busy, youngsters learn valuable life lessons when they play with each other. Playing teaches social and hunting skills, and it helps the youngsters understand and define boundaries. Simultaneously, playing with each other builds muscles and helps develop coordination.

And, watching kittens play together is a never-ending source of entertainment for all the members of the household.

Two kittens playing. by Shutterstock.

3. Adopting another cat saves lives

Adopting cats who are buddies or introducing a potential friend to a resident kitty saves lives. Every time a cat is adopted from a shelter, a new cat takes the adopted one's place, eager for a new home. Adopting cats makes room for more.

When adopting more than one cat, keep these five points in mind:

1. Try to adopt litter mates

Ideally, adopt kittens from the same litter who enjoy each other’s company. Because they have known each other their whole lives they usually settle into their new home without squabbling.

2. Adopt cats who are bonded to each other

It is less stressful to adopt adult cats who are already best buddies than to integrate an unfamiliar cat with the resident cat. One of the upsides to adopting bonded friends is that they usually transition to their new home faster, with minimum anxiety. Never separate a bonded pair from each other -- they will often grieve. It is heartbreaking to watch cats grieve for their best friends.

3. Gradually introduce cats to each other

As a general rule, it is easier to integrate kittens together than adults. Because cats are by nature territorial, it takes time for them to accept an unfamiliar kitty into their homes. Always keep cats who do not know each other separated and gradually introduce them.  Most will successfully integrate with each other after slow, careful introductions. It can take one month and longer to introduce cats to each other with a minimum of stress.

4. Adopt cats who are the same age and activity levels

It usually works best to introduce cats to each other who are around the same age and have the same energy levels. Bringing home a young kitten to keep an older adult cat company often leads to problems. The kitten wants a buddy to incessantly play with, while the older cat would rather quietly nap by the window.

Know your cats -- an active cat may not be a good match for one who is laid back.

5. Some cats do not like other cats

Not all cats enjoy living with their own species. Some adults who have spent their whole lives as only cats do not adjust to living with other felines. They need to be the Kings and Queens of their households and should not be forced to share their homes and favorite people with another feline. Introducing another feline to them can end badly -- stressing everyone, cats and people.

Others, when gradually introduced to newcomers, will accept new cats as part of their households.

Please follow Marilyn on Facebook

Got a cat behavior question for Marilyn? Ask our behaviorist in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. If you suspect a behavioral problem, always rule out any possible medical issues that may be causing the behavior by first having your cat examined by a veterinarian. Marilyn can also help you resolve cat behavior challenges through a consultation

Marilyn, a certified cat behavior consultant, owner of The Cat Coach, LLC, solves cat behavior problems nationally and internationally through on site, Skype and phone consultations. She uses force free methods that include environmental changes, management, clicker training and other behavior modification techniques. 

She  is also an award winning author. Her book Naughty No More!  focuses on solving cat behavior problems through clicker training and other force-free methods.  Marilyn is big on education -- she feels it is important for cat parents to know the reasons behind their cat’s behaviors.  She is a frequent guest on television and radio, answering cat behavior questions and helping people understand their cats.  

Learn how to live a better life with your cat on Catster:

Contributions

Tip: Creating a profile and avatar takes just a minute and is a great way to participate in Catster's community of people who are passionate about cats.

blog comments powered by Disqus