Pairing up cats at shelters to improve adoption rates

This is a thought. It might be unworkable and impractical. We know that domestic cats have preferences in relation to other cats. They can strike up friendships. There is no guarantee that a cat will like another but it does happen and when it does their lives are improved. There must be countless cat couples dotted around the United States cosying up to each other in blissful contentment.

Cat Hugs and Friendship

Cat Hugs and Friendship

Would it not be possible for shelters to assign a room and a person to checking the compatibility of cats as companions? We know that shelter cats are normally keep in separate cages but some of these cats might be able to make friends with another cat at the shelter.

If it was feasible to match up cats from time to time they could be adopted out as a pair of cats. This would be advantageous from two standpoints (a) the shelter adopts out two cats rather than one and (b) some adopters will like to adopt two cats who have already made friends. It might suit the adopter.

We know how problematic it can be to introduce a newcomer to a resident cat or cats. It might not work. If an adopter can adopt two cats in an established friendship they have resolved the problem beforehand.

This proposal might not be feasible from the standpoint of resources. It would need shelter workers to be involved in pairing up cats and a room or space where the assessment could take place. However, of it could be made to work there would be significant advantages in saving cats’ lives and improving the lives of cats.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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10 Responses

  1. When I worked at the shelter, for group play, we’d only put cats together that got along. So, it gave us a chance to see the ones that were affectionate with each other. It’s much easier to do with siblings. We also removed the center divider so they could cuddle and play if they wanted to.

    Some cats hissed at other cats when we were just passing by their cage, so they didn’t get invited to group play times.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I’d expect most cats not to get along but it would be nice if one or two did and that they were re-homed together.

      • Michele Massa says:

        We did have one or two cases where a person did adopt two senior cats that were friends in the kennel but we did not make it a requirement. Lucky some people are very kind.

  2. Michele Massa says:

    My rescue takes in bonded pairs and requires that they be adopted together. Usually that means they are from the same litter. We give a discount on the adoption fee for adopting more than one cat. We feel it would too stressful to separate them especially because of the situations we rescue them from including abuse, abandonment, and hoarding. We can adjust the kennel level to make one space into 2 si there are 2 litter boxes, cubbies, food and water stations but no barrier between the 2 cats on that level. We recently did that with 2 cats who were rescued together from a hoarder and another pair who we observed did not fight when we brought them to the play area together. It is so much better for the cats. They have more room to walk around in the kennel and they are not so lonely when everyone goes home at night. We were not requiring adoption of both cats from the hoarder situation, in fact one got adopted Saturday and the one remaining seems emotionally the same.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Do you actively try and pair cats that you think will get on and then require adoption of them as a pair? I don’t think you do and it may be impractical but it would mean two cats being adopted when there would otherwise have been one. And as you say the cats are happier in the shelter and I’d hope outside it.

      • Michele Massa says:

        We pair them up in the kennel for their well being while they are stuck in the kennel. If they did not come in together as a bonded pair most likely as kittens from the same litter we do not require adoption of both. It is difficult enough getting adult and senior cats adopted, we do not want to add on any requirements for an adult or senior cat to be adopted that would make it all the more difficult unless it is necessary for the cat’s well being to survive.

  3. Frances A Danna says:

    I think this is a highly commendable idea. Not only might both cats get adopted as friends, but having a buddy will help cats waiting in shelters to feel a connection to another soul and thus alleviate depression and boredom. It could could even bolster their health.

  4. Cat's Meow says:

    What a marvelous idea! They pair up dogs many times, why not cats?

    The workers could take turns sitting with the cats to see which ones become friends. That could be more cost effective compared to hiring another person or two.

    The shelters could even provide larger cages so the paired cats can stay together and comfort each other when not in the socialization room. That would prevent sickness and euthanasia. I would love to see it implemented. Everyone would benefit, especially the cats.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Wow, thanks Cat’s Meow. You are very sweet to approve my idea. I just thought it up at the gym 😉 – I was worried I might be ridiculed or criticised for it.

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