Is It Better To Have One Cat Or Two?

By Category: Cat Behavior
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Is it better to have one cat or two? Take it from me. You need two! It’s true that cats are resourceful and fiercely independent. We can manage perfectly well by ourselves — we don’t need other cats or dogs or even humans. But we’re social animals, too. Even if we’re not the best of friends, it’s good to know another cat is around. We’re talking about adult cats here. If you’re adopting a kitten, you absolutely need two. Keep reading to find out why.

Is It Better To Have One Cat Or Two?

s it better to have one cat or two? It depends on the cats' personalities.

These friends definitely think it’s better to have two cats than one.

Is it better to have one cat or two, Thomasina? I’m thinking about adopting, and I can’t make up my mind. Is it cruel to have just one cat? Would two cats be a lot more work? — Undecided

Hi Undecided…

Good question! I’m so glad you asked, although I may be the wrong one to answer. I hate to say it, but I’m very much a loner and spend most of my time outdoors by myself. I don’t really need cats for companionship when I have the birds and squirrels and trees.

Inside, I’d love to not have to share my human or my space.

Whether it’s better to have one cat or two really depends on the cats. And all cats are not like me. Many love having a buddy to cuddle and play with. And it’s nice to live with someone who’s of the same species and speaks your language.

The answer to your question is it better to have one cat or two is clearer if you’re thinking about adopting a kitten. Kittens have to grow up with other kittens to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted. If you’re thinking about a kitten, you definitely need two!

Are Two Cats Better Than One? Which Will Work For You?


I wouldn’t want to tell you what to do. But when you’re deciding how many cats to adopt, there are some things to think about.

Do you have enough space for two cats? We don’t take up much room, but our stuff can gobble up a lot of space.

Each cat will need a whisker-friendly bowl for wet food because we don’t like to share. And you’ll need two litter boxes without tops in case your cats don’t want to share those either. This is our favorite litter box and the one we use the most. No matter how many cats you adopt, one you’ll also need room for a tall, stable scratching post (we love these) and some wide corrugated cardboard scratching pads. And most importantly, you’ll need space for the cats to get away from each other when they want some alone time. You can accomplish this with a floor-to-ceiling cat tree or a high piece of furniture. Wall shelves are great, too, and won’t take up any of your floor space.

Unfortunately, you should also think about money. Will you have enough for two cats? Food and litter cost just a few cents more for two cats than one. But the cats should have well-kitty checkups every year (no shots!), and those vet visits can add up. Many humans buy pet insurance for their cats. Some have a credit card that they use just for their cats or a separate savings account for vet bills.

Here’s Why It’s Best To Have Two Cats


Although I prefer being outside by myself, I like knowing other cats are around. And although I don’t hang out with them, I’m friends with all of them, even Rocky, who’s not the nicest cat on the planet. He’s a loner, too.

But inside, it’s nice to share your space with someone of the same species and who speaks your language, even if you don’t exactly love each other. So those are a couple of reasons why it’s best to have more than one cat.

Another reason, of course, is companionship. Although humans think of us as fiercely independent and even aloof, cats are social animals. That’s why feral cats often live together in colonies.

When I’m inside, I could happily spend the day curled up in my favorite corner of a closet where I can sleep undisturbed. But I still like to know the other cats are around. And some cats do get lonely when they’re home alone all day, and some even have separation anxiety. Having two cats instead of one could solve that problem!

Oh, and here’s a fourth reason why it’s best to adopt more than one cat. No matter how old we are, we learn from each other. So if one of your cats discovers something new and fun, the other one will soon learn to join in. At our house, Soda is our weather tester. If he goes out and comes right back in, we all know it’s too cold to be outside.

Bonded Pairs Are The Best


So have you decided? Is it better to get one cat or two? I hope you said two! I also hope you’ll adopt a bonded pair instead of cats who don’t know each other.

Like humans do with family members, cats form strong bonds with littermates and lifelong friends. Separating them is just so sad, and some grieve for months or even their entire lives. When you go to the shelter to adopt, ask to meet cats who came in together. Even if they’re in separate cages in the shelter, they’ll be so happy to be together again.

Something to keep in mind is that cats really value their own space. So even if your cats don’t snuggle or play together, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate each other’s company and depend on each other.

If you can’t find a bonded pair, it would probably be best to adopt one and get the second a month or so later. Going to a different home and meeting a new cat are both very stressful. And having to deal with both at the same time could get things off on the wrong foot (or paw) for everybody.

Since female cats can be extremely territorial and not at all welcoming to newcomers, I’d adopt a male first. When he’s settled in, adopt another neutered male or a spayed female. Look for a cat who’s about the same age and has the same activity level. If the first cat is a couch potato, he’s not going to enjoy living with someone who’s a bundle of energy and wants to wrestle and play nonstop.

Please, please don’t adopt a kitten as a buddy for your adult cat. Kittens can be annoying and even frightening to adult cats, who are not toys to be pounced on every time they move.

About Those Kittens

Yes, I know. Kittens are just too cute. But one lonely, bored single kitten can be a real nuisance.

With no one else to play with, your feet, ankles and hands will become his favorite toys. And your collectibles will look like many, many soccer balls to him. He’ll have great fun knocking them off tables and shelves and swatting them across the floor. And a single kitten will need and demand more attention than you may have time to give.

Sadly, many single kittens are returned to shelters because they’re “too demanding” or “too playful.” If you’re thinking about a kitten, you really need two.

Because those deep bonds cats form begin very early in life, adopt two littermates. They’ll be lifelong friends. Kittens who grow up with other kittens are healthier, happier and better socialized. And they’ll have each other for entertainment so they won’t need to pester you.

Kittens also learn from each other, so when one figures out the litterbox, he’ll show the other what to do. And when they’re playing and one scratches or bites too hard, the other will let him know. That’s how they learn to play nicely, not just with each other, but with people.

I hope this helps, Undecided. If you’ll excuse me, I need to head out now. The other cats who live here are all in the woods, and I want to see what they’re up to.

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