Should You Adopt One or Two Cats?

In many cases, two cats are better than one.

Feb 8, 2024By Maya Keith
should you adopt one or two cats

While dog owners have issues like littermate syndrome that warn them off of raising two puppies together, cat owners may have an easier time bringing two cats into their home. As long as you can afford it, there are plenty of benefits that make this the ideal decision.

We understand this isn’t the right decision for everyone. In this article, we explore the reasons two cats are often the better choice while acknowledging situations when this won’t work. Keep reading to learn which outcome is best for you.

Do You Have a Mature Cat in the Home?

old tabby cat on step
Image Credit: Michael Palmer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to add a new kitten to a household with an existing mature cat, you should consider how your existing cat will respond. In most cases, they want to be left alone more than they want to fraternize with your new addition.

This is especially true if you’re looking to adopt a kitten who will have an endless supply of energy. Adopting two kittens or young cats alleviates your mature cat's need to engage in play.

Adopting two cats around the same age also means your new cat will have a companion when your older companion passes on.

Cats Thrive with Friends Around

two cats on corner shelf
Image Credit: Takashi(aes256), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t already have a cat in the house, it’s important to recognize their semi-solitary personalities. While they enjoy plenty of alone time, they’re at their best mentally when they have another feline to socialize with.

Cats are generally easier to leave at home than dogs are, but they still become lonely and may even become depressed if they spend too much time alone. In some cases, cats may act out by destroying furniture or start acting aggressively.

Even if you’re home all the time, cats benefit from having another to play, cuddle, and socialize with. They love their humans, but we don’t speak their language perfectly. Some cats prove to be exceptions to this rule, but most enjoy a feline companion.

Multiple Cats Promotes More Exercise

cats playing together
Image Credit: Isasza, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many cats are perfectly content with spending their days napping in the sun, ignoring their humans' attempts at getting them to play. Having two cats in the household usually encourages play and unlocks all the benefits that come along with feline exercise.

As long as the play doesn’t turn into fighting, the physical activity improves form, boosts metabolic activity, and helps them keep off weight. They’re too tired to rip up your new couch, and generally more content with their lives.

This isn’t the case for cats with injuries, certain health conditions, or some older, moodier cats. It’s also not the only solution, or the initial recommendation, for cats dealing with weight issues.

Two Cats May Limit Food Pickiness

cats eating in cat cafe
Image Credit: Takashi(aes256), CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While some cats eat anything you put in front of them, a handful would rather starve than accept the meals you offer. For these picky eaters, another cat can serve as a good example (or at least healthy competition).

Some cats need feline encouragement to accept that the meal you offer is actually edible. Once they see another cat chow down and survive, they’re more likely to do the same.

Others may think they can just leave their food unattended until they’re in the perfect mood for it. This can make it difficult to keep track of meals and appetite. A second cat in the home proves them wrong and encourages them to eat up at mealtime.

Two cats may also increase food aggression, and you need to make sure one isn’t bullying the other out of their meal.

Many Adoptable Cats are Bonded Pairs

tabby cats sleeping together
Image Credit: Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bonded pairs are cats that have a deep bond. This bond goes beyond being playmates or cuddle buddies; being separate can cause immense pain and even death, so many shelters will not adopt them separately.

Because most people are looking to adopt a single animal at a time, these bonded pairs can spend several years in a shelter before they find their forever home. Opening your heart to the possibility of adopting a bonded pair gets them out of the shelter, frees up space for new cats, and lets you bear witness to this immense bond.

The Cost of One vs. Two Cats

white and orange  cats on tile floor
Image Credit: Min An

In most cases, the budget is what prevents someone from owning multiple animals. If you can’t afford two cats, it’s perfectly fine to settle on one. Just make sure you give them plenty of love and attention.

Many of the costs of owning a cat are shared between the two, so a second cat doesn’t exactly double your expenses.

Cats can share beds, trees, shelves, and toys. While you’ll need an extra litter box and food bowls, buying cat litter and food in bulk is usually cheaper per pound. The major expense to consider is keeping up with medical costs and ensuring you have ample savings (or pet insurance) for emergencies.

Take your time making this decision. We’re sure you won’t regret it, but it must fit well in your unique situation.

Maya Keith
By Maya Keith

Maya is a lifelong animal lover. While she switched from studying veterinary medicine to English, she continues to help by fostering animals in her community. Her permanent residents include 3 dogs, 2 cats, 5 quail, 19 chickens, and a small colony of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.