We Adopted Sibling Cats
When my family decided to get a kitten, we didn't even think about getting two. To be honest, I wasn't even sure I wanted even one -- I have always been more of a dog/fish/reptile man, and the though of sharing the house with a cat didn't really grab me. But everyone else was pretty keen on the idea, so I went along with the program.
This was why, when we were standing at the counter of the animal shelter with not one but TWO kittens in a carrying box, I had to ask myself if I was making a serious mistake. If cats were at all like children, we were in trouble. I knew from first-hand experience the truth behind the old saying: "One child is like having one child; two children is like having fifty." There was some demented mathematical formula behind multiple offspring, and having just been around the barn twice with our two beautiful sons, two years apart, I wasn't at all eager to start again. Especially if that barn was filled with cats.
But this was the smart way to go, according to the wonderful people who ran the shelter. Cats are intensely social animals, they said, and are much happier if they live with one or two siblings. There are fewer behavioral issues, they're cleaner (since they can groom each other), and they're less likely to run away. I wasn't sure if all of that was true, but in the end we, and I do mean we, decided to take home two cats, a brother and a sister. Sibling cats -- were we making a big mistake?
This article will discuss the reasons why adopting sibling cats is better for both felines and humans. I hope this helps you think about how to proceed with your own cat adoption!
Cats Love the Company of a Sibling
There's nothing sadder than a lonely kitten.
Kittens love other kittens -- they're social animals, who respond to each other in ways hard for us humans to perceive, let alone comprehend. When you adopt sibling kittens, you give them someone to relate to. Sibling cats will groom each other, wrestle, and even fight occasionally. It's all part of two cats having someone to relate to.
Sibling cats keep each other so happy, and so entertained. There is substantial evidence that companionship early in life helps kittens become more social later in life. According to author Dr. Michael W. Fox, "an animal's happiness and well-being can be undermined by a lack of adequate socialization or impaired bonding with their own kind and/or with humans during their formative early weeks of life."
Anxiety and the Live-Alone Cat
Cat behavior is also generally better when there are two cats from the same litter in the house. Much of feline "misbehavior" is due to unease with being alone, not having another cat to groom or play with, and the general lack of social contact that another cat provides. Unease or anxiety caused by solitary life isn't an issue with another cat around. Even when it seems that they're fighting, they're engaging in important and necessary activities with each other.
Sibling Cats -- The Biological Argument
Why having a litter mate around makes a difference
Single kittens adopted into new families can lose the sense of belonging that they would naturally have. Cats are social animals, and by nature will develop strong mother-child bonds and habits that can persist over a lifetime. According to John C. Wright, pet psychologist and co-author of Ain't Misbehavin', the acute sense of smell that cats use to interpret the world they live in is especially attuned to "litter" smells -- and no, that doesn't refer to the stinky smells of a cat's litter box. It means that the scent that sibling cats and kittens share from birth is all-important. Wright argues that litter mates are similar, not only in appearance and temperament, but in biology. Since biology drives the cat's behavior, it follows that having a sibling to go through life with makes a cat's behavior more natural.
Sibling Cats -- Why You Will Be Happier, Too
We learned from first-hand experience that having sibling kittens or cats makes everyone happier, including you. No matter how much you love cats, sooner or later you will need to take a break. Sibling kittens have a built-in babysitter, and when you need to sleep, eat, or go to work, you can rest easy knowing that your cats will keep each other entertained for as long as you need. Sibling cats always have time and energy for each other, even when you don't. There have been many days when our sibling cats spend hours chasing each other, grooming each other, or sleeping, often literally in each other's arms. Our sibs are happy and well adjusted, and I'm happy to say we are too.
The act of grooming a cat causes deep relaxation and dramatic slowing of the heart rate
Sibling Cats and Grooming
This picture says it all! Cats are social animals, and grooming is a major activity. Domesticated and wild cats groom to clean, share scents, and soothe each other. When a cat is alone, that behavior is of course not possible. You can help by brushing and "grooming" the cat yourself, but with a sibling, the cat will be able to partake in an instinctive and natural grooming activity. Although your kitten will love being brushed by you, having another cat to interact with is even better.
Happy With Our Kitties
As it turned out, no, we weren't making a mistake. We were making one of the best decisions we could have made. Our two sibling cats are now essential parts of our family -- and it's been almost five years. They play, fight, groom, eat together, and just generally show us that adopting them together was the best thing we could have done.
And I am now, I have to admit, a total cat man.
Leave a Catty Comment
Fay Favored from USA on November 28, 2012:
I totally agree that cats need to be adopted as a family, and even wrote about it. They need one another for play time true, but also emotionally. If at all possible, I encourage people to not split up the family or litter. Thank you for bringing this into the public eye.
termit_bronx on July 12, 2012: