Should I adopt one or two kittens?

People ask themselves, “Should I adopt one or two kittens when I go to the cat shelter?”. Personally, I’ve always felt that it’s best to adopt two kittens. I am pleased to say that the famous and respected Jackson Galaxy agrees with me. In his book Total Cat Mojo he has a little rant as he calls it. It’s on page 163.

You should adopt two kittens in a litter if possible
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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Galaxy writes that:

‘If you have a choice of bringing home two kittens or one, for the sake of the kittens, bring home two.’

Less work for owner

He says that when a cat has a feline friend it’s better for the cats and it’s better for the cat owner because there is less work to do. By that, I presume he means that the cats can entertain themselves which takes some of the burden off the owner. Of course they have got to get along which for me is the biggest worry.

Two kittens are better than one? Yes, most often but not always when they grow up.
Two kittens are better than one? Yes, most often but not always when they grow up. Photo: Quora user:
Faye Auger Beuby.

Siblings can fight?

I can remember talking to an organizer at the cat rescue charity (ARC) from which I adopted my cat. She said that siblings don’t get on. She was relying on personal experience. I understand that siblings can end up fighting but I don’t think you can say that in general you shouldn’t adopt two siblings.

Social world

Jackson Galaxy says that cats have a social world based on family. In feral cat colonies cats’ lives are more complex from a social standpoint than people once believed. For a long time people thought that cats were entirely solitary and asocial because of the solitary nature of their wild cat ancestor. It’s not true. They have become quite sociable creatures over 10k years of domestication.

Shelters should insist on two kitten adoptions

Galaxy says that if he ran his own animal shelter he wouldn’t be asking customers whether they wanted to adopt a second kitten; he’d insist upon it. He says that if you are in a position to pick kittens from a litter, you should pick at least two.

Learning from each other

He also refers to an expert whose name is Dr Crowell-Davies. The doctor suggests that when kittens are removed from their litter it deprives them of the opportunity to learn from their siblings to be socially competent adult cats. Indeed, domestic cats are social learners and they learn by observation. Kittens learn from their peers how to hunt and play and interact with other cats.

Resident cat

I think the difficulty, though, arises when you have an existing, resident cat who is adult and you wish to introduce a new cat. Quite often cat owners, regrettably, do this quite carelessly and choose a new cat based upon their own preferences. I believe it’s quite a technical task to successfully introduce a new cat unless you are lucky and it just clicks.

Cat Russian Roulette

Jackson Galaxy agrees. He thinks that letting cats work things out on their own is a recipe for disaster. It can work but it’s a case of Cat Russian Roulette. When it doesn’t work the Raw Cat (the wild cat traits of the domestic cat) comes through which means war in the household.

I won’t go over in full how Jackson Galaxy proposes cat owners ensure success when introducing new cats to a resident cat household because it’s beyond the scope of this article. However, he does state that the main criteria in matchmaking a new cat to a resident cat is to match them by energy level.

Energy levels

He states that the cat’s history is less important than her energy level. Think about how personality types best complement each other.

As an example, he says that if your existing cat is a bit wild and could be described as a Dennis The Menace, you don’t want to bring home a quiet, sedentary wallflower-type cat. The better cat to match up to an energetic resident cat is to observe who the first cat it is who comes to the door in a colony-type room at the shelter. The first cat will be the most confident and energetic.

Complimentary personalities

And by complimentary cats he does not mean a carbon copy. He argues that one needs to be very refined in your approach and try and match personalities; complimentary personalities is the goal. Comment: I am not convinced that this is correct. It’s using human concepts regarding personality too decide the personality of domestic cats. It also presupposes that cats choose friends on personality as humans do. They might not.

The bottom line is that you should keep your personal preferences in check and make your selection in a more objective, scientific way.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

3 thoughts on “Should I adopt one or two kittens?”

  1. I had a single cat in the past. Now I have two. I was originally looking for a single at after my previous cat had passed, but then the rescuer suggested “why don’t you take her brother too? If it doesn’t work out, bring him back after a week, he’ll still be a kitten, I’ll be able to find another home for him.” Of course, the moment I brought them home, I knew I’d not be able to give either of them up.

    Having said that, I don’t agree with requiring adoption of two cats. Kittens grow up. Having two cats instead of one can bring a number of issues:
    1. Veterinary costs. Two weeks after I’d brought my kittens home, I discovered they have ringworm. Treating it cost $$$ especially as I knew I couldn’t handle giving them dips, so I paid the vet to do it. I am fortunate in that I can easily afford it. Many people can’t.
    2. Possibly different health conditions requiring different diets when they grow up. For example, my boy, Hansel, is overweight while my girl, Gretel, is thin. Hansel eats her food, so she gets thinner and he doesn’t lose weight. People suggested feeding them in different rooms, but it’s not practical as they don’t eat their food all at once. Sure, I could try and make them, but if Gretel eats too much at once, she throws up. So I have to watch when they eat and remove her food when she leaves then gives it back when I see her looking. Doesn’t work very well when I have to go to work.
    3. Two cats may be bonded as kittens or even siblings as mine are, but they may stop liking each other when they grow up. I am fortunate that my cats still get along, but sometimes I wonder if their play fighting is still play fighting. Hansel is 1.5 times the size of Gretel, so she always ends up running away. At other times, they are OK, though, but stuff can happen.

    4. People who already have a cat at home may not want or be able to adopt two more. 3 is a crowd.

    So while I think people may be encouraged to adopt two kittens, making it a requirement may result in more kittens not getting adopted as people would just walk away. Additionally, it may result in more surrendered adult cats when kittens grow up and people realize they cannot handle two cats.

  2. While two kittens are certainly better not everyone is in a place where they can have multiple pets. Push comes to pull a kitten adopted to a qualified home is one less in the system. I might add that two cats are double the food, litter and yearly veterinary costs plus flea treatments and other necessities.

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