There are lots of benefits to adopting kittens together including having a playmate to run around with, reduced play aggression and reduced loneliness.
Years ago, I would add a new cat to our family by adopting a kitten. I never really thought about the impact that may have on the adult cats and the single kitten. Although the cats ended up being friends, I would no longer do it that way. I've since adopted 2 sets of kittens, and a kitten when the others were still young enough that they make good playmates. It's been a wonderful experience for all of us, though I don't recommend 5 cats unless you have plenty of time to commit to playing, feeding and providing tons of vertical space and environmental enrichment.
From my observations, adopting two at the same time makes a huge difference in their level of happiness. Some argue that your cat will bond better with you if they are single. I strongly disagree with this argument. Paired kittens should have no issue bonding with their guardians. Just like us, they can have multiple relationships in their lives.
Many shelters and rescues will no longer adopt out a single kitten unless there’s already a young cat at home. Having a buddy helps with a kitten's behavioral and emotional development.
6 Reasons to Adopt Kittens Together
They are Social Animals
Cats enjoy the company of their own species. Oftentimes, kittens are adopted together as siblings so they already have an established relationship. Sometimes rescues pair kittens of similar age together. My cats, Luke and Lily, were paired together at 5 weeks old, and have a very close relationship. From day one in our home, they were grooming each other and playfully chasing each other. Seven years later, Luke and Lily still groom each other daily and engage in play fighting.
Having a buddy provides Easy Entertainment
Indoor cats can become bored and lonely. Kittens have a ton of energy, and need a lot of stimulation and play time. Having a 2nd kitten allows them to play together, wrestle and have a partner to run around with. This works out great when guardians go to work or away on vacation since a cat sitter's visit is typically brief. Two kittens running around together is also so very fun to watch.
Prevents Play Aggression
Two kittens will play with each other a lot. I do still recommend playing with them using a wand toy at least twice per day since cats have a strong prey drive and need to practice hunting. I rarely see play aggression cases with multiple cats. It's often a single cat and they stalk and pounce on their owner, if they don’t get enough directed playtime. With 2 kittens, they always have a playmate. But, please, still play with them using a wand toy. Otherwise, their play may become intense over time.
Social Learning & Training
Kittens learn from each other. As observational learners, if one picks up using the litter box first, the other will see his sister doing it, and likely follow suit. When they are playing together, they also learn bite inhibition by testing out boundaries on each other. This benefits you by having a kitten learning not to bite.
A Kitten's Energy can be Challenging for Older Pets
If you have an adult cat at home, adopting 2 kittens may be a better option so that they will play with each other and not bother the adult cat as much. When I did this, my senior cat, Abby, really enjoyed watching the kittens, but they knew to leave her alone (she would bop them on the head if they came too close). Unfortunately, a lot of people contact me that their older cat does not want anything to do with their new kitten. It's not good for the older cat who wants to be left alone, and it's not good for the kitten who just wants a playmate.
If you already have an older pet at home, think seriously about how this will impact their life. It may not be in their best interest to add additional pets to the family. Letting them lead out their senior years in peace may be the kindest thing to do. With Abby, getting the kittens was risky, but she seemed to be not doing well as the only pet at home. At that time, I was working out of the home and was busy with a young son. The kittens were a good thing for her. And because they had each other to play with, they left her alone.
No Introduction Process
Many times people realize they want a 2nd cat, and then they have to go through the slow introduction process to properly introduce the new cat to the resident cat. This can be tricky and may not always work out. By adopting 2 siblings or buddies, you don’t have to go through this. Approximately half of the consultations I do are helping clients introduce cats to each other. Adopting 2 kittens prevents you from going through this.
Two times the cuteness, cuddles, and love!
Kittens are so very cute, who would not want two of them? Also, if one kitten bonds with you, the other might bond with your partner or family member. Sometimes, a member of the family feels left out if the kitten is not as bonded with them. When you adopt two, there's a higher likelihood that everyone will have a kitten to feel close to. So, go ahead, get two kittens. You won't regret it.
About the author: Jennifer Van de Kieft is a Certified Advanced Feline Training & Behavior Professional located in Brooklyn, NY. She provides virtual consultations throughout the United States. She owns Cat Advocate, a feline behavior consulting company. She provides cat guardians with the strategies, tools and knowledge needed to address their cat's behavior issues.