why you should adopt two kittens: reason three

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Now that you have decided to adopt two kittens – YAY! Or at least maybe you are REALLY considering adopting two kittens, rather than only a single kitten.
Here’s a final word on
why you should adopt two kittens: reason three

As mentioned in previous “why you should adopt two kittens: reason one, and reason two” posts, kittens in a shelter are often orphaned. For those kittens without a mother, a sibling, or a substitute shelter pal, become very important to the development and growth of kittens. Those relationships between two kittens are a vital source for them to learn and experience life long skills.

  • Two kittens together learn how to communicate with each other
  • Two kittens together learn how to interpret signals from each other
  • Two kittens together learn about affection
  • Two kittens learn about bonding
    These are all behaviors applicable to our relationship with our cats, and are qualities we desire to share and experience with our cats.
why you should adopt two kittens

adopting two kittens, at ARF
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

Plus – a pair of kittens are twice the love!

Thank you Rita Del Rey, Operation Cat & Volunteer Coordinator at ARF
for the helpful information about adopting kittens.

why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

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That’s great that you want to adopt a kitten, but have you considered adopting two?

Here’s why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

Since it is not uncommon during kitten rescues for a kitten to have lost their mother, it is the siblings, if there are any, who become very important for how a kitten learns to be a cat. Or, once the kitten is in a shelter and either doesn’t have siblings, or their siblings have been adopted, they hopefully have developed a shelter pal. The significance of a shelter pal is that young kittens can form a relationship with each other that can be a substitute for a sibling.

why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

shelter pal
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

Sibling or shelter pal, they learn by playing together.

  • Kittens learn to gauge distance while jumping
  • Kittens learn to judge what spots are safe to land on
  • What spots are not safe
  • Develop balance while walking on anything narrow

They also learn by observing each other

  • Use of the kitty litter box
  • How to share their territory

Observation and play are both necessary ways for kittens to learn and develop skills.
And, a pair of kittens are twice the fun!

Why you should adopt two kittens: reason one

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It’s so much fun watching kittens play. And here’s

Why you should adopt two kittens:

They rassle, pounce, do all kinds of entertaining things. They also help each other learn. The mother cat is the primary teacher for the social and survival skills kittens need to learn,  in order to behave as adult cats. But it’s not unusual for kittens in a shelter to have lost their mother. So what happens if young kittens don’t have their mother? For siblings who don’t have a mom, at least they have each other.

reason one

let’s talk about biting
According to Rita Del Rey, Operations Cat and Volunteer Coordinator at ARF, kittens who are deprived of their mother, and siblings, are more likely to bite. That’s because a kitten raised alone has no one to learn from.

why you should adopt two kittens

kitten alone in shelter
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

When kittens play together, they are learning to communicate, including how hard to bite.  If kittens are playing, and one kitten bites the other too hard, that kitten will certainly let the biting kitten know to not bite so hard. For alone kittens, how are they going to learn the difference between play biting from biting when hunting?

Why you should adopt sibling kittens

adopt sibling kittens photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

so adopt two kittens:

  • Twice the love
  • Twice the cuddles
  • Two kittens can entertain each other while you’re busy or away at work
  • There’s not much added cost to having a second kitten

what to do if your cats fight

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If your cats are not getting along

Then what? Here are some suggestions: what to do if your cats fight.

Toby is over twelve years old. He lost his younger sister (not blood siblings) February 2015. He missed her, so we knew we needed another cat – for him and us. Marnie was three when we brought her home: an adult, but still young enough to be quite playful, and keep Toby active. Which for the most part, works. But not at first.

what to do if your cats fight

Toby & Marnie stare down
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Dr. Jill Sackman, head of behavior medicine service at BluePearl Veterinary Partners suggests understanding cat relationships in the wild. Usually, family groups are close, but once a cat goes on their own, they are likely to be solitary. Solitary cats are also territorial, so if another cat ventures into their turf, chances are, a stand off will occur.
Domestic cats likewise view their home as their territory. So needless to say, if an unknown (or new) cat appears on their turf, they will protect that turf. This also can apply to being possessive of food bowls, toys, or a person.

When we first brought Marnie home, our newly adopted three year old cat, she and Toby had intense staring contests.

cats stare down

Toby & Marnie having intense stare down
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Some hissing, plenty of growling. And this was after nearly a week introducing their scent, seeing each other, and eventually meeting; it was a very gradual process. Even so, Marnie was trying to assert herself and claim some territory while Toby defended his turf.
Signs that your cats aren’t getting along range from the obvious to more subtle

  • hissing, scratching
  • growling
  • stare downs between the cats
  • nudging a more submissive cat away from their food/water bowl
  • the more submissive cat leaves when the dominate cat arrives

We saw all of the above between Toby and Marnie, except not the scratching part. We did notice that if Marnie was sitting with us and Toby appeared, Marnie would leave. We wanted to remedy that, we wanted to have two purring cats, both of them hanging out with us.

what to do?

If your cats really get into an actual fight, of course our reaction is to STOP it! Maybe by yelling, clapping or even using a water gun or all of those.  But according to Dr. Sackman, “This could just make things worse.”

Instead, she suggests the following

  • Take a deep calming breath and insert an object like a large piece of cardboard between the cats. This creates a gentle but impenetrable barrier between the them.
  • If the cats are locked together, pick one up by the scruff, which will force him to release the other cat.
  • Keep the cats separated for a while to let them cool down.

Dr. Sackman explains “Every time your cats fight, the relationship gets worse.” In addition, she says “The longer the fights have been going on, the harder it is to correct the relationship.”

How to help your cats get along

Trying to fix a bad relationship between cats takes time, space, and tons of patience. These suggestions are also great when introducing a new cat in your house.

  • Put the cats in separate areas with their own food and water dishes, litter pan, and climbing spaces.
  • Make sure to spend plenty of quality time with each cat in their particular areas.

First, let the cats share scents. We got two socks, took one and rubbed Toby with it, especially around his head. Then left Toby’s sock scent with Marnie in her area. We did the same with rubbing Marnie with the other sock and left the sock with Toby. Another suggestion is to feed the cats at the same time on the opposite sides of a door, which enables them to associate the other’s scent with something pleasant, like dinner. This is good to do with treats, too.

Continue the scent swap by mixing their used litter together, Dr. Sackman says.

Finally, swap the cats: put each cat into the other cat’s area. That way, each cat has an opportunity to completely adjust to the other cat’s scent.

Now, your cats should be ready for a proper introduction. Start by placing the cats on opposite sides of a screen or baby gate. This way, they now smell and see each other, while maintaining a barrier.

When you can see that they are not freaking out, it’s probably time to remove the barrier.

Now that you and your cats are in the same room, give each cat lots of love and attention, while the other cat watches. This is intended to give another positive association: being with each other, the cats get good stuff, like affection, praise, play, treats.

How to maintain a good relationship between your cats

shelter cats getting along

cats at ARF(animal rescue shelter) hanging out
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Continue to provide each cat with her own food and water dishes, play space, and litter pan. This will most likely be permenant. It is with our cats. Cats need places to climb, but they also need their very own secure den, these are spots where a cat can feel safe and comfortable enough to lounge and sleep.

it’s possible that your cats may never like each other, but at least you can help them tolerate each other. If you’re persistent and lucky, your cats may eventually play. Like Toby and Marnie.

cats getting along

Toby & Marnie playing
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

cat grooming Love Your Cat videos

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cat grooming Love Your Cat chapter 1

Love Your Cat videos are a series of five chapters, each chapter covers various topics about cats. Just released on my kitty care youtube channel, is cat grooming Love Your Cat chapter 1, which has great tips and information from Gerry, a professional cat groomer.

Gerry shows you how to clip your cat’s nails, and what the ” quick” is.

love your cat video cat grooming

Gerry with Perky
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Gerry has suggestions on how to groom a short haired cat.

cat grooming short hair cats

Gerry grooms Toby, a short hair cat
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016

Gerry demonstrates how to handle your cat while grooming her/him.

cat grooming Love Your Cat

Gerry drying Perky after his bath
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016

Gerry loves her cat Perky, and loves taking care of him, which includes cat grooming.

cat grooming chapter 1

Gerry and Perky
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016

Watch cat grooming Love Your Cat chapter 1, so you too can keep your cat healthy, beautiful and happy!