One Kitten or Two?

This is the time of year when many people get a kitten, and cat rescues are full with cats and 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

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.

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3. Kittens learn from each other. As young animals, kittens have a lot to learn, and they will be able to learn from watching the other kitten and copying their behaviour. 

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 it likes, 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. (You can read more about enrichment tips for cats and why your indoor cat likes windows).

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?)

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.

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Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about everything from training methods to the human-canine relationship. She also writes a column for Psychology Today and has received the prestigious Captain Haggerty Award for Best Training Article in 2017. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband and two cats.

Useful links:
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.

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  1. Just adopted 2 kittens unrelated and different ages. They are beter than I could have expected and learning to get along with the dog from each other. They are playing together and grooming each other. cute!

  2. we just drove to Kentucky to adopt to sister kittens which were about 8 weeks old. They have been the light of our life since we brought them home, they continue to entertain us as a bounce and play together, and they love to snuggle together as they sleep. We have an adult cat who is not taking too well to them but that's okay and they've got lots of love from my kids... definitely two!!!

  3. I was sure I only wanted one cat. But after a year I knew my cat was lonely and needed a friend. I should have done it earlier but it still worked out well. Only about 5 days of adjusting to each other and now they are best friends. The way the play, wrestle, groom and sleep together, only another cat can do that.

    1. Make sure Jules sees this because he seems to think if you don't adopt in pairs a cat will never accept another cat in your house. Oh boy.

  4. I am fostering 3 kittens and was going to keep one but now may end up keeping 2. I have a dog who is scared of the kittens (he hides in another room when they are out) - I'm thinking it might be better to keep 2 so they can entertain each other rather than just 1 who might get bored and start chasing the dog around.

  5. Yes as long as they are kind. It's adorable when they snuggle. I've had two pairs of kittens and one trio.

  6. Hello. Can you bring me the link of the paper published by Sharon Crowell-Davis. Thank you. Jimena Mangas , Animal Welfare professor of University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

    1. You can find it via Sharon Crowell-Davis on researchgate:

  7. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone ever adopts a solo kitten. They are LESS work and LESS worry, and, as mentioned above, if you get a solo kitten and that kitten grows up without any feline socialization, s/he will never be able to interact with other felines. It's just wrong, and there's just no reason for it.

  8. Unless you already have two dogs where as bring two kittens home to adjust might be to much to handle.

  9. Should we get 2 males or one of each?
    Suggestions anyone?

  10. I'm glad I adopted more than one kitty (especially after reading this article). When i'm not home, they still have each other for company.

  11. we planned on one but after going to adopt the kitten and see the brother and sister together we had to get both I didn't want to separate them. Im so glad I did!

  12. I've only had one cat. He was 18 and passed away on August 18, 2016. I never gave it any thought about one or two cats. Our cat was so loving and so affectionate to us but if we end up adopting two kittens together will they be less interactive (play, sitting in lap, etc.) with us because they're more interested in the other kitten?

    1. If you adopt two kittens you will carve out your own relationships with both animals and they will probably be very different but hopefully equally as satisfying. Once you figure out how a cat likes to be pet and then spend time bonding with that animal, they will seek you out. Cats get different affection from humans than each other In my experience. Once they get the good stuff from their human, they will find you and demand more. I'm dealing with a brother and a sister who have some jealousy issues over their mommy, but I try to show each equal uninterrupted attention and they're learning to deal with it.

  13. I had had only one cat and when he died I'd intended to only get one cat. However when we went to the Cat Rescue Shelter, they don't like to go as pairs, so we ended up with two, a brother and sister. They are lovely to see together, playing and grooming and company for one another. They're now two years old and still get on well together. They are just as affectionate as our previous cat. I often wake up to find up one is on my bed with me, sometimes both!

  14. I meant to say the Rescue Shelter like the kitten's to be homed in pairs! I'd definitely recommend getting two cats or kittens-twice as many cuddles!:)

  15. I too just adopted 2 boys. Same litter. Absolutely beautiful. I had been contemplating a second cat for a LONG while to be company for my cat at the time. She died about 2 weeks ago from lymphoma at 8 years old (just shy of her 9th birthday). When she was a kitten (got her at 10 weeks old), I opted not to adopt her brother at the time (wasn't even allowed to have a cat). I just happened to meet the most BEAUTIFUL and adorable almost twin kitties when I was out just looking. MY CHANCE... I happened to like an Instagram pic with two amazing kitties from the rescue organization posted weeks before. They were 4 weeks old then and just started being fostered. Low and behold, 4 weeks later they would be mine.

    When I was looking (lol JUST LOOKING) I knew I wanted 2 kittens from the jump based on past experience. I wanted a boy and girl. But - GOT TWO AMAAAZING boys. And it was the BEST decision.

    If you are here because you are trying to decide what to do, or if you got caught up in being a cat parent to two kitties and doing post adoption research (like I literally am RIGHT NOW, lol), I'm telling you - you've made the right choice. Just watching these two interact for the first time in my home, it was the best decision ever. They are a bonded pair, and I cannot imagine them being separated.

    I hope to have a long long loooong love affair with these two. I'm telling you, two is better than one - regardless of age.

  16. All the things you said about kittens could apply to puppies so when you adopt a pet you should just always get two? I'm just asking because there is still these weird myths about cats that really when thought about logically dont really pass for more than anecdotal.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. It's a great question and one I hear often. It is actually not recommended to get two puppies at once. For one thing, a puppy is a very big responsibility because when we get them at 8 weeks (typically), they are still in the sensitive period for socialization until about 12-14 weeks. It's important to give them lots of positive experiences during this time to help them develop into calm friendly adult dogs. It would be very hard to do this with two puppies at once. Also, we can teach puppies to like other dogs and one way to do this is to take them to a good puppy class where they can play with other puppies (making sure they are having fun and not scared - if they are shy, let them come out of their shell in their own time). We don't get this kind of opportunity with kittens (only a few places run Kitten Kindy classes) and the sensitive period ends sooner for kittens.

      If you want two dogs, it is much easier to get the second dog later when you have more time. This is less of an option for cats as some cats will not accept another cat into their social circle. I hope that answers your question!

  17. I already have multiple young smaller dogs and decided to adopt a kitten. I am hoping the kitten bonds with the pups but now am thinking I may need 2. My big concern is will having 2 encourage them to run wild in the house at night? I'm imagining sleepless nights with random noises freaking out the pups. Is 2 better than 1 if there are canine companions? It's been years since I've had cats.

    1. I have the same question? I have a dog and debating on whether or not to get 1 kitten or 2. What did you end up doing and how has it worked out so far?

  18. I recently had to put my 2- 15 year old dogs down and am heartbroken. I'm in deep mourning at this time and miss them more than I can describe. This was almost 2 months ago.
    I don't want another dog, and besides my landlord would probably not let me. So, because I once had a cat I loved once, I've been thinking about a kitten (probably 2).
    I really want something to love and be loved. I am 78 and very lonely right now. I love animals and smile when I see people with theirs. They would be indoor cats and I want to maybe start a search.


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