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.


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.

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Reference
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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