Guest post: One is the loneliest number

My mother-in-law is a cat person. She loves the dogs too, don’t get me wrong, but some people are dog people and some people are cat people, and she is a cat person through and through.

Her most recent cat passed away a couple of years ago, and I’ll be the first to admit I am surprised she is still cat-less. I think the urge is calling to her, though. There have been hints dropped and a wayward cat dish randomly winding up in the living room and suggestions of visits to the local cat rescue. I give it another month or two, tops.

“Did I tell you I’m thinking of getting another cat?” she asked me this weekend at her birthday party.

“I think my husband mentioned it,” I replied.

She looked over to see if my father in law was listening, and confirming that he was, she casually amended her statement: “Well, I actually think I should get two. They need company, really.”

His eyebrows raised six inches or so before he interjected that this was indeed news to him, but of course now that it’s been said out loud, in front of witnesses, he unfortunately has little recourse to try and talk her out of it. This is the same tactic I use with great success. The V family men put up with a great deal in the name of animals.

Truth be told, she has a point. Adopting cats in pairs is a time-honored tradition in shelters, with the advantage of not only getting more kitties into homes, it gives them a pre-bonded playmate, assuming you get two cats who have already been living together. So it is very timely that the Found Animals Foundation in LA just submitted a guest post on the advantages of adopting a 2Fer during kitten season. One might say it was fate. My father in law is probably ruefully shaking his head as he reads this, by the way. I hope I am still welcome in the house.

Found Animals Foundation is offering the ongoing “2 For You” promotion as part of the Cat Days of Summer campaign– adopt a kitten or cat from any participating Los Angeles animal shelter and Found Animals will pay the adoption fee for the second kitty.

Summer is here, which can only mean one thing: Kitten season! Okay, so that may not be the first thought that comes to mind, but summer is the time when shelters are flooded with litter upon litter of adoptable kittens. With so many kittens and such little space in our shelters I decided to bend my one-cat-per-household rule, and jump head first into fostering a modest batch of two. Baby steps. I would be eluding the truth not to admit that the thought of two cats in my one bedroom apartment reeked of impending mischief and shenanigans. Or so I thought.

As a staunch one-cat owner I learned the hard way that cats get bored easily. Very easily- especially when left alone for hours on end. Destructive behavior, separation anxiety, and overeating are common reactions to loneliness.

Much to my surprise the double hi-jinks I was expecting with two kitties together never seemed to arrive. Having a like-minded friend to play with and learn from seemed to redirect all that energy away from my once tattered curtains and into hours of entertaining playtime!

They bite, scratch, bunny kick, and roll around, as part of the fun. It’s through this type of play that they learn about bite inhibition– a learned behavior where a kitty regulates the force of their bite from playing with its siblings, and learning how hard is too hard when taking a nibble.

Without a partner in crime, most cats won’t understand the force of their bite unless you, as the owner, take time out to teach them. Warning: Adorable kittens nibbling on fingers may be more painful than they appear.

I lead a pretty busy life, like most of us do, and often times would feel guilty when leaving my cat all by his lonesome. That look of sadness in his big eyes would get me every time I head out the door. With two kitties together I’m finally relieved of that feeling of guilt! So, although I still get those looks of sadness, I know seconds after I leave they are fast at play (yes, I’ve peered through the window may a time to confirm this).

Speaking of the outdoors, that’s not the safest place for your kitty. The sad truth is that outdoor cats have a life expectancy of only 2-5 years– cars, predators, disease and being picked up by another cat lover are a constant threat. Keeping your cat indoors can extend his or her lifespan to 10-15 years. And who wouldn’t want their purrballs to stick around for as long as possible!

Much to my surprise, fostering these two kits has sold me onto becoming a two-cat adopter. Yes, caring for two little beasts may require a little more food, litter and vet care but it will also give me peace of mind that the kitties are in a happier, purrier mood, and get more exercise through regular playtime. So spread the word: Cats are indeed happier in pairs (and so are my remarkably intact curtains, frames, vases and sofa)!

Submitted by Found Animals Foundation’s Jumana Bississo

 

 

Picture: Mr Dasha and Miss Luella will be available for adoption at the Found Animals Foundation Cat Adoption Center annex at the South East Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA) in Downey. For more information visit: www.foundanimals.org

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  • Tabitha

    Ok, I have three, and I hate to say it but NONE OF THEM play with each other. They are all odd balls. Mini and Magoo do sleep with each other and we have thought about getting a fourth so George would have a buddy but I dont think he liked that idea too much. They are good company for each other and I know how much they like living together, but I would be nice if they would play together.

  • Cathey

    I agree, two is definitely more fun, and they DO keep each other occupied, USUALLY in a good way! Just be careful. Once when my family was catless, my mother went with the three of us children to the rescue site and we came home with THREE cats. She ended up with all of them as we left home, but Shadow lived to a very ripe old age and she was never alone again! It was a good thing!

  • Susan

    The same is true for us. Our first cat would try to wrestle and bite us humans so I decided it was time for a second cat! They chase and wrestle with each other now! No more torn pant legs, and only the occasional torn paper item. Us humans are now just sources of food and snuggles (the way life should be)! The second cat was the best idea ever! And in the cold New England winter, my husband and I both get a kitty lap warmer!

  • Karen

    Oh wow, timely post. I’ve been thinking since we adopted our kitten last month, heightened this morning when awakened at 4:30 by a call to play, “we really should have taken his little gray buddy, too.” Not that a second would help us sleep longer, or make our dog any less pestered, but I appreciate the timing of the column and the bonding of 2! Fate, as you say? My husband is traveling on business again which generally gets me and the kids into some form of mischief…

  • Tanya

    I adopted two cats together and they played together for the first couple years. Then when they were old and lazy they cuddled and kept eachother warm :).

  • Beccity

    Our first two cats were adopted together, they were fostered at the same house, but not littermates. They do not play with each other, even when they were young. They don’t pay any attention to each other at all. Four years later, we decided to keep two kittens out of a litter I was fostering. They played with each other until Sugar decided she was a PRINCESS and PRINCESSES do not play-fight with their brother. Every once in a while I would still catch them sleeping together, but not for quite a while. Now Sugar only growls and swipes at Loki when he tries to play. He does get her up and wrestling with him sometimes, but from her growls, I think it’s a real fight.

    Even though there are 5 cats in the house, Sugar acts like the only one when it’s time for me to leave. She’s realized that if I stand in front of the bathroom mirror for a while, it means I’m LEAVING HER. She tries to interfere with my getting ready by standing on the sink and meowing pitifully, with these sad eyes. Sometimes she’ll put her paws on my shoulders and give me a hug-“Don’t leave me, mama!” We have a shelf by the front door, and as I get ready to go out the door, she jumps on the shelf and does more sorrowful meows, and looks so sadly at me as I close the door that I wish I didn’t have to do anywhere, ever!

    So Having more than one cat is good when they’re young, I think, but once they’re grown, they could care less. But as long as they don’t fight each other, adopt as many as you can!!

  • http://www.fourwhitepaws.net the cat guy

    I’m a fan of multiple cats (within reason of course). My cats love playing with each other. They even seem to enjoy watching each other play.

    With multiple cats comes added expenses. Cost more to feed, board, vet expenses, etc. Also costs more in time investment to make sure all of their play and cuddle needs are met. Cats have no problem creatively communicating when their needs are not being met (destroy the furniture or poop somewhere that Will get your attention.)

  • Heather

    I’m a multi-catter! I first got Minion and Boffin, they’re littermates and adore wrestling, chasing, grooming and sleeping with each other. a couple of months ago I bottleraised two babies, all the while saying that two cats are enough. guess who now has four cats? Hermes and Mana, my babies, add so much more joy to my life and I’m glad that I have a them together because they can hassle each other instead of hassling the big girls which gets them in trouble.

  • Jeanne

    wouldn’t that be a 2fur?

  • Jeanne

    oh, and we have 2, though we didn’t get them together. they eat together and they’ll groom each other, but they do not play together and they do not cuddle. they’re more likely to torment, i mean, play with the dogs.

  • http://browndogcbr.blogspot.com Hawk aka BrownDog

    Hi Y’all,

    If you factor in the distructive behavior that a lone cat develops in its attempts to amuse itself, the cost of extra food and vet care probably leaves you ahead of the game. Not mentioning of course that the house looks nicer when things aren’t torn apart by a misbehaving animal.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog