Is It Better to Have Two Cats (or More!)?

Contrary to behavior myths about being loners, most cats do well with other cats. Here are reasons why and tips for adopting two cats or more!

Two orange and white tabby kittens.
Get lots of great kitten information at this online conference. Photography ©Andrew_Deer | Getty Images.

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’s what to know about having two cats — or more!

Here are three reasons to live with two cats (or more!) at a time:

Two gray kittens playing together.
Two cats can play with each other. Playing ©patanasak | Getty Images.

1. Two cats can 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. Having two cats or more keeps them all entertained — playing, cuddling and sometimes just sharing a room together.

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.

3. Adopting another cat saves more lives

Adopting two 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 two cats (or more!), keep these five points in mind:

Verdicts vary among pet parents when deciding whether to use wet or dry cat food. Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images.
Can two adult cats get along together? See our tips below. Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images.

1. Try to adopt litter mates

Ideally, adopt two cats 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 two cats who are bonded to each other

It is less stressful to adopt two 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 two 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 two cats who are the same age and activity levels

It usually works best to introduce two 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. Remember: some cats do not like other cats

Having two cats or more isn’t always going to work out. Not all cats enjoy living with their own species. Some adult cats 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. What do you think about having two cats or more? How many cats do you have?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Andrew_Deer | Getty Images.

This piece was originally published in 2014.

This might help you decide if you should get another cat (or cats!) >>

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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.

Read more about cat behavior here:

28 thoughts on “Is It Better to Have Two Cats (or More!)?”

  1. Wow, Kelly. I’m sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. We have 2 cats that are litter mates and they get along well together and aren’t distrustful of their owners at all! When they are separated for short moments, they don’t panic either. Even kittens adopted from different litters can easily become close friends that won’t want to be separated. Adopting 2 kittens from the same litter or from different litters is important for the cats’ social development. They become more well-behaved adults because they were taught boundaries at an early age the way only one cat can teach another. If you’re worried that you’d have to separate a bonded pair in the future, I suggest you stick to adopting a single adult cat and keep him the only cat in your house.

  2. I think it is irresponsible of this rescue to endorse adopting 2 litter mates. Although cats can thrive together, buying 2 cats the same age especially of the same liter causes litter mates syndrome. This is very dangerous for the cats and the owners, causing the cats to bond together and often distrust the owner.
    Also, the cats will not be able to seperate ever causing severe anxiety if alone for even a short amount of time. It also causes for behavioural issues, often causing one of the cats to become withdrawn and non social.
    If you are getting 2 cats please make sure they are not similar in age or are from the same liter.
    Disappointing to hear this inaccurate dated research. Smh

  3. Pingback: How to Introduce Your Cat to a New Cat | Catster –

  4. I have a beautiful bonded brother/sister. Cheech and Delilah, I was forced to move from where the cats were outdoor cats and had to become indoor cats. They adapted to their new indoor home beautifully with all of us supporting each other,and lots of treats and belly rubs. They are a major source of support for me and I cannot imagine what it would be like without them.

  5. I have 5 cats. We rescued a feral cat who was pregnant and she’s is now living in my parents home happy as can be. I kept her three babies and we moved almost two years ago. A year after we moved I adopted two more cats who needed homes. They were kittens and everything went well The kittens turned 2 on the 5th and my others will be three. Last year one of the original
    3 started seeing a stray cat that would come to the door. He would yowl and it would cause everyone to clash at each other having to separate most of them. This happens rarely but when it does it sounds awful. Recently in the past two weeks we have had a bigger issue. The cat saw something or something happened to trigger him and he attacked my daughters leg. I’ve read that that’s something they don’t just do without having reasoning. Well after being exposed to him again for a week I was playing a video and a cat was meowing loudly and then he jumped on my daughters backside and got her again. She is scared to death as well as very angry at the cat. I have had him shut in my bedroom away from the other cats because of this and my daughter because she doesn’t feel safe when I’m not home. This cat is honestly the sweetest cat, never hurt anyone or anything until this and my daughter can’t bare the thought of getting rid of him. With that said I’m at a loss at what to do. I think he is ok and perfectly healthy. He is fixed and up to date on everything. Any suggestions? If I had to rehome him I would want him going to a home that would take care of him like I do. I’ve had him since he was born. I feel bad for everyone as I want to try to fix it before rehoming him but anyone have any ideas what could be causing it

    1. Hi Natasha,

      Thank you for reaching out! Sorry to hear that you, your family and your kitties are experiencing this. These articles might provide some insight but we also suggest seeking advice from a vet and/or behaviorist:

  6. I liked the story of the Bengle cat & his family. I have a 6 year old female siamese plus 2 Savannah’s both femlaes & the 3 cats are “Fixed” Had the Siamese { her name is Savannah} first, than I got the one savannah {Montana} had both these girls for 2 years, a few months ago I lost my Tordie {Cali} They were ok, missed cali. Just about a Year ago I was given another “Savannah” her name is Dami, I did the slow introduction , while no one was home Dami was put in HER room, while we are home Dami & the others had run of the house, YES there was problems, we re-directed the cts with play, to this day just about a YEAR , they are getting along GOOD, even Dami is starting to wash Montana’s head. The 2 Savannah’s are close in age, a few months apart. It takes TIME & lots of LOVE, it is worth it, YES YES YES,

    1. I had a 3 year old bengal for just 6 months then 3 weeks ago got another bengal given to me and this one is 2 years old. The new one is antagonistic and seeks out the one I had first . She stays in the bedroom all the time now and the new one goes in there just cause a fight. Should I keep them apart for a while then reintroduce them again? I also have the Feliway in 3 rooms. Help!

      1. Hi there,

        Thanks for reaching out! We suggest reaching out to a vet or behaviorist for the best advice. These links might help, too:

  7. Pingback: Solid Advice That Will Help You To Remove All Of Your Cat Problems – Unity Pets

  8. I have 3 cats who all “adopted” us and NOT the other way round
    my Bengal cross boy is now about 5 and has an attitude of a guard dog as he has a black dog collar with studs (cat collars don’t fit him due to his shoulders and neck size and the muscles he has
    the other 2 are a small young female who after staying a few days here and there with 4 other neighbours, she found us and decided she was there to stay, and my beautiful peanut coloured boy Simba who is 2, believes wholeheartedly he is a human baby and I’m his mum
    this includes separation anxiety when I go out of the house
    all of them are highly protective of each other and fret if they don’t know where we are or the other cats are
    there is no way I could ever rehome any of them as to be separated from us and each other would cause undue stress and fretting they are not related at all and just “found us
    in their own way to create our little family
    what makes this more special is that they each chose us and just seem to get along with each other as if they were together their whole lives
    this is just a truly loving and magical experience to have cats like our beautiful fur babies
    am so blessed they chose us

  9. I have four. A mother and daughter who are both up in their teens. Then a 2 year old male that I took in when he was just six weeks old and his ‘owner’ was going to throw him outside. He integrated with my older girls nicely and he and my dog keep each other entertained. Then a few months ago, I had to rescue a beautiful Calico that I had given away a couple of years ago. I found out by accident that she had been abandoned and the owners of the house she was left in were going to put her outside in some of the coldest weather we’ve had in several years. No shelter or rescue would take her and they didn’t know what else to do with her. She is 5 or 6 years old and when I went and got her, she weighed less than 4 pounds!! She was feral at one time, her ear is tipped which shows she was part of a TNR program but she’s been a strictly inside cat for a few years now and she would have never survived out in the cold. Then the lady who abandoned her found out I had her again and told me she wanted ‘her’ cat back. Not happening!!

  10. I completely agree with everything stated. many people have more than one child so they are not alone. It’s sooo much easier having more than one. My girls are best friends.

  11. Unfortunately our “kitten” is now 11 months old. We got him when he was about 3 months and took a lot of care to introduce him to our 5 year old. Sadly it’s just not working out. The best we have achieved is the two of them Sperrung on the same bed together. Little one is just too active and chases and jumps on our big softie. With hindsight I think I shouldn’t have got a second cat but it is what it is now. Just hoping pur little one will eventually ‘grow up “…

  12. I wish you hadn’t started your article with the words, “Although cats hunt alone…” because it suggests that all cats hunt when in fact, the majority of cats never actually hunt, and many cats, especially indoor cats, never even have the opportunity to hunt. Otherwise, your article did a very good job of shedding light on the fact that cats are actually very social creatures. I currently have 11 cats. Five of them were a litter that I rescued at one week old with their mom, and one of the cats that I already had was very fond of the tiny babies. He plays rough with them now but he made an extra effort to play very tenderly with them when they were learning how to walk and then play. Somehow he knew that they were fragile. You would think that there would be chaos in my household with so many cats but they all get along really well. The only time there is chaos is when someone gets out the box of Temptations and then you have to watch out for the cat stampede.

    1. All cats hunt!! They hunt & kill everything from flies to any bug that innocently enters your home. Most will eat the evidence. Some will leave their catch for you under your dining table as a gift. It’s in their nature. Laurie

  13. I have 8 cats in my house. The elder cat is the last one of the original 4 I had. The others are 5 litter mates from a female who left them in my patio 3 yrs ago, and the other two are kittens I found near my townhouse. All are cats I found as strays. Because of how they found their way to me, I consider them all blessings sent from above. I am retired and am able to devote a great deal of time with them. They are a source of great joy and I can’t imagine what my life would be without them.

  14. To Mikayla
    It is best to get the new kitten right when you move so new living space is new to both cats. This avoids established territory problems. We did this and worked like a charm!

  15. Pingback: Why Two Cats Are Better Than One – Fussie Cat

  16. I have a 3 year old male rag doll. I’d like another rag doll. Not sure if I should get a male or female. My cat has been around my sons cat several times when I go away. They do great together but that is in his home. Not sure how a kitten would blend with my 3 year old. The house is medium size and the cats cannot go out.

  17. Hello – we adopted a 5 month old kitten back in September 2017. At the time, he had a few brothers there, but we were only in the market for one. I just checked the shelter site, randomly thinking about his brothers, and one is left there. I want to adopt him. Is there a good chance we can reintroduce the brothers, after 6 months of separation, and have a successful living situation? He was actually brought back to the shelter; he was adopted into a household where a cat was already living there, and it did not work out for that reason. I appreciate your thoughts and advice. I need to have him. Thanks.

    1. Hi Katie,

      We suggest discussing this with the shelter staff but we think it’s possible that the cats would get along! Here’s more advice on introducing cats:

  18. Hello! I am looking for advice on introducing a new kitten into my home. I will be moving in two months and taking my current cat (1 year old this week) with me. I have been thinking about getting him a friend, but wasn’t sure if it was best to wait a few months after I move for him to get settled in the new place, or get a new kitten right off the bat (changes all at once). I am worried that if I wait, he will get more territorial of the new place, whereas if I introduced him to the new environment with a new kitten early on he might handle it better? Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hi there—

      These links might help you make the best decision. Best of luck!

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