One Kitten or Two? 7 Reasons to Pick Two Kittens

Is it better to get one kitten or two? Here are seven reasons why it might be a good idea to get two.

Two cute fluffly kittens cuddling... one of seven reasons to get two kittens instead of one
Photo: biburcha / Shutterstock

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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This is the time of year when many people get a kitten, and cat rescues are full with cats and kittens. These days, some shelters and rescues will actually insist that people adopt not one but two kittens at once. 

It turns out there are some good reasons to get two kittens instead of just one. Here are 7 reasons why. And okay, maybe the first one is a little facetious, but there are some serious reasons why it works so well to get two kittens.

7 reasons why it's best to get two kittens

1. It’s twice as much cute fluffy fun … if one kitten is adorable, then surely two is even more adorable? 

2. So they can play together. Kittens love to play. They have a wide variety of play behaviours: play with objects such as cat toys or shoe-laces, chasing, running, hiding, leaping, and even chasing their own (or  another cat’s) tail. Play behaviours peak at about four months old, and then tail off, but adult cats like to play too.

There are several ideas about why play is important, such as practising hunting behaviours, developing motor skills, keeping fit, and learning about the environment and social bonds. As with other animals, play seems to be important in feline development. Having another kitten around will increase the opportunities for play, and they will continue to play together as adults.

3. Kittens learn from each other. As young animals, kittens have a lot to learn, and they will be able to learn from the other kitten. Kittens especially learn from play, including how to not be too rough or bite too hard.  Between 6-8 weeks they learn the signals that initiate play in cats: rolling over on the side, standing up on the hind legs, or putting their mouth on another kitten's neck. So long as there is another kitten in the home, then by 10 weeks they will have learned how to respond to these signals (showing their belly or standing on the hind legs) as well as to have a play face when playing.  

4. Because cats are social creatures, but they need early experiences to learn about other cats. Cats that have grown up with feline company are more accepting of it when they are older. A cat that has always been an only cat is not so likely to be happy to get more feline company.

If you think you would like another cat in the future, it makes sense to get two as kittens. In fact Sharon Crowell-Davis and her colleagues at the University of Georgia suggest that it’s better to adopt cats in small related groups of two or three. 

5. So they can be properly socialized and learn feline communication and behaviours, such as how to greet another cat, how to show affection, or to ask another cat to play. This isn’t something we can teach them – they have to learn it from other cats. Interestingly, dogs can also learn how to greet a cat the way they like, with a nose-to-nose greeting.

Is it better to get one kitten or two? Two kittens will play together, like these two, which is one of several reasons to consider getting two kittens at once

6. So they can just be cats. Having a second kitten around gives it the opportunity to do the things that being a cat involves – observing other cats, snuggling up together, grooming each other and so on.

7. If they will be indoor cats. Indoor cats can easily get bored; the presence of another feline gives them something to do and counts as environmental enrichment. So long as they get on with the other cat, that is--and the likelihood of that being the case is much better if you get 2 related kittens. (Read more about enrichment tips for cats and why your indoor cat likes windows).

Are there any downsides to getting two kittens at once?

Of course there are some drawbacks. The costs will be double, for food, cat litter, vaccinations and vet visits, and almost double for insurance (insurers will often give a small discount for a second animal).

If the kittens are male and female, you have to remember to get them spayed/neutered in time, even if they are indoor cats, because cats become sexually mature between 5 and 8 months of age. Because of this, cats are usually spayed or neutered between 4-6 months, although it can be done earlier. (See: does it matter what age you neuter your kitten?)

Summary: Getting 2 kittens

Getting two kittens together means that they can play together, learn from each other, and keep each other company. In general terms, it seems like the answer to the question, “should I get one kitten, or two?” is two.

P.S. If you liked this article, you will love my book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. Modern Cat magazine says, “Zazie Todd has created a must-have guide to improving your cat’s life.”

You might also like:

Crowell-Davis, S.L., T.M. Curtis, R.J. Knowles (2004) Social organization in the cat: A modern understanding. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 6, 19-28.
Bradshaw, J. (2014) Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. Basic Books

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