Wednesday, September 8, 2010

two kittens: why to adopt in pairs

One of our adopters recently wrote to us:

"Last year I decided that I wanted to adopt a kitten so of course I turned to Hyde Park Cats. They convinced me to take not just the one kitten but also one of her littermates. It was the best decision I ever made. Flurry and Cupcake eat, sleep, and play together. They sit together in the window watching the world go by, groom each other constantly, and stampede through the house chasing each other. They keep each other company, comfort each other, and amuse each other. If one of them suddenly notices that the other is not in sight, he walks through the house crying until she runs out to join him.

They are inseparable; I'm so glad I didn't separate them."

Most cats, regardless of age, are highly social and are happier living with other cat companions (or sometimes with a dog or rabbit). This makes them better pets, which results in happier owners.

Kittens are no exception.

Kittens want and need interaction with other kittens for healthy social development. A kitten learns from its mother and littermates. Separating a kitten from its mother is often necessary for adoption. But taking a kitten away from its littermates can delay his development emotionally, socially and physically. Kittens who remain with a littermate or a similarly-aged companion are healthier, happier and better socialized.

Kittens are curious and crave constant stimulation. A single kitten may become bored and entertain itself by chewing on plants, climbing drapes and furniture, unrolling toilet paper, or exploring electrical cords and sockets. It is less likely that kittens who live with other kittens will engage in these dangerous and destructive behaviors.

Kittens are active at night. A single kitten may awaken you with jumping, pouncing and other hunting behavior. However, two kittens will occupy each other by finding interesting shadows to chase and games to play until they finally tire and fall asleep, too.

It's normal and appropriate for kittens to "play bite" and wrestle with each other. Without a litter mate or other kitten to play with, a kitten will bite and wrestle with you, which is unacceptable. Even if you allow this behavior from your kitten when it's small, once the kitten matures, your adult cat will have learned these bad habits. If your kitten grows up with another kitten, this negative behavior is minimized.

Even if you are fortunate enough to be home during the day, the attention a single kitten demands may occupy all your waking hours. A pair of kittens will also want to interact with you, but they can occupy each other while you are carrying on daily activities.

Think twice about bringing a kitten home to a senior feline resident. A kitten may have too much energy for an older cat. Kittens want to play and run constantly and require a lot of interaction. This may overwhelm and irritate an older cat, and the kitten may be frustrated her elderly companion doesn't have her energy level. This makes two very unhappy cats, and behavior problems, such as litter box avoidance or destructive scratching. Long-term, the two may never have a close relationship because their initial experience with one another was negative. An older cat is better matched with someone of her own age and temperament.

Adopting a single kitten or young cat is not a good idea. Trying to keep a single kitten occupied, stimulated, safe and happy while also going about the business of everyday life is much more of a challenge than it may seem upon first consideration.

Our goal is to ensure we are adopting our cats and kittens into a loving home for life.