Letter: Why kittens should be adopted in pairs

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I greatly appreciated the excellent interview with Andee Bingham about her valiant work rescuing neonatal kittens [“Q&A: Future Hopes and Plans for Esther Neonatal Kitten Rescue,” Nov. 16, Xpress]. I would like to take this occasion to mention another important point about kitten rescue.

A few years ago, my neighbors adopted a kitten, and when they went to work, it would sit in the open window and meow piteously all day, clearly feeling lonely, scared and abandoned. And when they got home, it would be so happy to see them, and they had no idea that anything was wrong.

A kitten suddenly removed from its mother and siblings experiences great distress, and its isolation from other kittens is very damaging to its emotional development. Kittens need other kittens to learn how to play, how to relate to other cats, and to be emotionally healthy and happy.

I was moved by this experience to write a little flyer about this problem, although there was very little information on the web about it then. Recently, I Googled “Why kittens should be adopted in pairs” to see if there was any more data, and was astonished to find 10 websites — 10! — devoted to this problem, with titles like “Eight Reasons Why Kittens Should Be Adopted in Pairs.” All were very well done, and some were videos.

I strongly urge anyone considering adopting a kitten to check this out, and if you have kittens to adopt, please do not adopt them singly and do not separate two kittens who have clearly bonded with each other. Animal shelters should require kittens to be adopted in pairs. I welcome comments at 828-458-8409.

— Rusty Sivils


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2 thoughts on “Letter: Why kittens should be adopted in pairs

  1. T100

    Generally true but be aware that you may encounter dominance problems. My brother adopted sisters 20 years ago by they time they became adults the larger one had clearly become dominant and would sometime but not always physically bully her sister.. She started ALWAYS bullying sis at meal time. She would push smaller sis away from her bowl and eat her food. Smaller sis knew NOT to go near the food of bigger sis. For their entire adult lives they had to be fed separately with smaller sis protected by a closed door.

    Our last two cats adopted us. The most recent was 5 years ago. She was found crying in the wheel well of my wifes car at my mother-in-laws home when my wife was visiting for a few days.. No mom or sibs were seen near by so my wife snagged her . The vet estimated her age as 5 weeks.. She immediately took to the litter box and the food bowl was scared of us. She is now totally socialized to the two of us but still does not trust or like any other human OR cat.

  2. SpareChange

    Let’s not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. While it would be great if kittens who are already connected could be adopted in pairs, surely the more important objective is to just find decent homes for as many animals as possible. Cats adopted individually can forge bonds with other animals in a household, and certainly with their human caretakers. To suggest that, “animal shelters should require kittens to be adopted in pairs,” would only serve to create that many more animals who linger in shelters without homes, or (depending on the shelter) who end up euthanized.

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