Skip to main content

Two Cats Are Better Than One

Laura is an avid pet lover. She is an advocate for pet adoption and senior pets. She has multiple cats and a sweet old lady poodle mix.

Consider getting your single cat a companion.

Consider getting your single cat a companion.

Cats Need Friends Too

Despite their reputations as aloof, unsocial, and loners, most cats will do better with a partner.

If you are thinking about getting a cat, or if you have a cat and wonder why it is misbehaving, the answer might be that two cats are better than one.

Find out why cats do better with a social group, ways to introduce one cat to another, and answers to common concerns and questions.

Cats Are Social Animals

Just like their wild cousins in the animal kingdom, cats have a social order and hierarchy among each other, other animals, and with their human companions. According to Sarah Hartwell of The Messy Beast, it has only been in the past couple of decades that cats are beginning to be recognized for their social needs and abilities.

Cats are very social creatures.

Cats are very social creatures.

Learning from Each Other

Cats learn by watching and imitating others. Some cat rescue groups have reported that even feral or semi-feral cats that are around more domesticated cats can learn how to behave and mimic. From there they can eventually calm down and become a more civilized pet.

Loving Each Other

Cats not only mimic one another, they establish relationships. Companion cats are known to groom each other, eat together and sleep together. They take comfort in the presence of the other cat and look for them when they are not together. They will even mourn the loss of their companion if it passes away before they do.

Staying Occupied

But one of the best reasons that two cats are better than one is that your cat will stay occupied—they'll be less bored and less destructive if they have a friend to keep them company, to play with and to bond with.

This is especially true for young cats. I adopted a six-month-old Siamese mix. He was the only cat in the house at the time. Since both my husband and I were working during the day, the cat very quickly got bored. He chewed on the blinds and scratched up the furniture.

A few months later we adopted a one-year-old adult tabby. The bad behavior stopped and they were lifelong buddies until the tabby passed away from cancer at the age of 13. At the time of this article the Siamese is still going strong at the age of 16. We have other cat companions for him, too.

Common Questions and Concerns When Adopting More Than One Cat

Many pet owners or potential pet owners may have questions about adopting two cats or another one. Some are concerned about the process and whether or not their cat will adjust. Here are some of the common concerns, problems, questions and solutions to the issues.

Do the cats need to be the same gender?

When getting a companion for your cat or two cats together, they do not have to be the same gender. Assuming that you are spaying or neutering (please!) then cats will form friendships with each other regardless of whether they are male or female. You can also adopt two cats from the same litter or a parent and kitten. These cats will very easily bond and their social hierarchy is likely already established.

Usually, within the social order, one is the dominant cat and one is the follower. With cats the cues may be more subtle, but one way to figure out who the dominant cat will be is to watch their behavior patterns. Does one cat get up and give the other it's sunny spot by the window? Does one cat tend to clean the other one? The one that is submissive is likely the subordinate.

This is not a bad thing, is not upsetting to either cat, and is important for the balance and harmony of the cat's social circle. Each time a new animal, especially a cat, is introduced to the household, that balance of power will have to be re-established. This is okay. Realize that it is all part of a multi-cat household.

Do the cats need to be the same age?

It is not necessary to adopt two cats of the same age, While younger cats will likely make the adjustment and transition a bit faster, two cats of any age can get along, form bonds and learn from each other. An older cat can help to teach a kitten how to act. A kitten can bring out the playful side in a more sedate older cat.

You can even adopt two adult cats of varying ages. Cats of all ages work together in their social circles.

If they fight or hiss at each other, does this mean it's not working?

No. Not at all. As mentioned earlier, cats form hierarchies within their social circle. Hissing at each other and growling when there is a new member is actually a very normal part of their social process. Unlike dogs, cats do better with a slow introduction of a new companion. Here's a good way to socialize two unfamiliar cats:

  1. When bringing the new cat home, place it in another room away from the established cat.
  2. Bring a blanket or other item that the new animal has been on for the established cat to smell.
  3. Bring the new cat out for short periods of time in a crate or carrier. (Remember that hissing and growling is okay.)
  4. After the hissing dies down, allow the new cat out, supervised, for short periods of time.
  5. Increase the time until the cats are no longer fighting.

This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It depends on the cats' ages and personalities. But all cats can be socialized to tolerate each other and most form deep and strong bonds.

Don't be surprised to come home one day and find one curled up with the other.

Is it a lot more work to take care of two cats?

There really is not much more work to take care of two cats than one. There is some increased expense, such as an extra yearly vet bill. But some vets give discounts if you have more than one pet (I know mine does), so be sure to ask.

Keep their litterbox scooped, and their food and water fresh, and your two cats will be happy and healthy!

Two Adult Cats Playing and Interacting

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Have a question about getting another cat? Post it here!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 28, 2014:

Awesome hub! It's been a very long time since I only had one cat. They are intelligent, sensitive creatures with a sense of humor, and I cannot imagine life without them. I loved the thoroughness of your answer. Definitely 2 or more!

RTalloni on January 28, 2014:

Glad to see this advice posted!

When our little one came to us we were a family at home and she was part of us, but as changes occurred she became more lonely and I realized that we should have gotten two from her litter. That could have been rectified later, but life complications made me choose not to do that. She really was sweet enough for 10 cats! Hindsight's 20/20, though, and your post is important to consider.

L C David (author) from Florida on January 28, 2014:

randomcreative--I noticed that about the youngest cat I got. I brought him in as semi feral (he was living in our woods) but the interesting thing was that since he was young, he was not territorial at all. The other cats would hiss at him and he'd look at them like "what in the world are you doing that for?" He now is the cat that is truly a friend to all.

quicksand: I love that story. What an adorable moment!

quicksand on January 28, 2014:

There was a semi-feral Tomcat that oft uses out rear wall as a path to and from wherever he goes.

Once, a kitten of ours was on that wall when Tommy was on his regular business walk.

The huge Tomcat simply stopped before the playful kitten, and licked him up just like his mother does ... and then he proceeded!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 28, 2014:

LCDWriter, I think that it is good for our old cat to have the young kitties around. They are certainly more entertaining than me and my husband. :) It keeps her on her toes a little more. It is really sweet how respectful they are of her, too. I think it helped that we adopted them when they were only three months old. They were a little intimidated by her, and she got used to having them around when they were little.

L C David (author) from Florida on January 28, 2014:

Thanks so much for stopping by randomcreative. My oldest cat is 16 and my youngest is 3 but we have...well...several in between. It's interesting to see the dynamics and the young cat even encourages the older one to play sometimes. It really is interesting that in your case part of the social circle is allowing the older cat to just be. Thanks for sharing.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 28, 2014:

Great job with this topic! Currently my husband and I have an old cat (16) and two young cats (both a year and a half). We're so glad that we adopted two little ones. They are great playmates, and they are so good about not bothering the old cat. I think if we just had one, he would look to her for rough housing time.

L C David (author) from Florida on January 28, 2014:

It's so much fun to watch their relationships develop and especially cool when an older cat "mentors" a younger one.

Brenda Thornlow from New York on January 28, 2014:

Good article! I had always been the owner of one cat until I rescued my younger cat, Sophie, when she was only 2 weeks old. My older cat, Chloe, was about 6 years old when I found Sophie and of course she didn't like the baby at first but after a week or so she kind of took her under her wing (or paw) and practically became a mother to her. I definitely prefer having two cats vs. 1. They do keep each other company and it's very entertaining to watch them interact with each other!

L C David (author) from Florida on January 28, 2014:

Thanks Just Ask Susan. I think that many domesticated animals do better with a buddy, especially since most of us can't be with them all the time. My one dog thinks he's a cat since he lives with them so I guess that counts too!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 28, 2014:

I have 2 dogs and I feel that two dogs are better than one :) Great article!

L C David (author) from Florida on January 28, 2014:

Thanks for stopping by, sujaya.

sujaya venkatesh on January 28, 2014:

well said