Single Kitten Syndrome
If you have ever raised a litter of kittens or adopted a pair of them, you know how much they play together. Some of this play is painful, as confirmed by the yowling and complaining that occurs. The kittens bite and scratch each other, sometimes quite hard. All the while they are learning from one another that this behavior is not the best way to make friends! If they are lucky enough to have a mom cat around and she hears the ruckus, she will often give a warning “that’s enough of that” to the kittens and they settle down.
In order to become well-socialized cats, kittens need to learn appropriate behavior from one another. A human is not a substitute for a feline companion. You can provide attention and love but there is simply no way you can replicate the play behavior of the species. If they don’t learn limits in their play as youngsters, they often develop inappropriate playful aggression. In other works, it may be cute when a kitten attacks your ankles when you walk by or playfully nips at your fingers while you are playing. It will be much less cute, not to mention annoying and painful, when you cat is full grown.
Kittens adopted into homes without other young cats sometimes develop behavioral problems. Litter box habits are learned at an early age and kittens actually play a large part in teaching each other how to faithfully go to the proper place when nature calls. Cat behaviorists now believe that kittens raised without kitty companionship also transfer the playful biting behavior, which is so important in developing proper manners, to their humans. To prevent the possibility of these problems, and to encourage the general well-being of the kitten, GFF recommends adopting 2 kittens if you do not already have a cat at home. Two kittens playing together is one of the most entertaining activities in the world, both for you and for the kittens. Having 2 cats will also ensure that they are not lonely when you are away from home. A lonely cat can become neurotic and will sometimes let
his/her owner know about their unhappiness by destructive or inapropriate behavior.
This is not about placing more cats/kittens. It is about the future of the individual kittens, their habits and happiness. People have been skeptical about adopting 2 kittens rather than 1 only to contact us later to share their delightful stories of their kittens playing together. The rewards are great. We have never had anyone tell us they wished they had only adopted one.
If you feel you are unable to care for 2 kittens, we strongly encourage you to consider one of the wonderful adult cats needing a home. Remember the difference between a cat and a kitten is only about 8 months. But a happy cat can bring you joy and companionship for many years. The payback is tremendous.
**information gathered from Purrs and Whiskers Shelter, Inc.