It’s not easy to look at a litter of puppies, kittens, rats, or any other animal and pick just one baby to take home. Should you really choose just one? Wouldn’t those two littermates be happier together? The answer depends on just what kind of pet you’re considering bringing home. In this post, I’ll list a few of the most common pets and the benefits or drawbacks of raising littermates of that species together.
In general, the average pet owner should not raise canine littermates together after the age of nine to ten weeks. Littermates can become so attached to one another that they are difficult to train. It may even become almost impossible to separate the dogs from one another by the time they reach adulthood, which creates problems later in life. What if one dog has to be hospitalized, but the other dog howls disconsolately for hours on end if separated from it?
If you’re an experienced owner willing to take obedience classes separately with both dogs, you might be able to successfully keep littermates, but it’s generally much wiser to get one pup at a time.
Unlike dogs, cats actually are much happier and better pets when adopted in pairs! If you’re getting a kitten and have room for two, by all means, adopt a pair. Of course, you’ll need to do a little number crunching to make sure that two new cats won’t be an undue financial burden. Consider all possible eventualities, including both cats needing emergency care at the same time. However, as far as a time commitment is concerned, two kittens are easier than one. They’ll keep one another entertained, reducing the time you need to spend exercising them to prevent damage to your home. Plus, studies show cats that live in multi-cat homes live longer overall. Just make sure you get both kittens spayed or neutered ASAP, especially if they are opposite genders!
Keeping a group of same-sex or neutered rats is a must. These gregarious animals need the company of their own kind in order to be happy. Littermates are a great choice, so long as they are either of the same sex or one or both is neutered before allowing them to live together past the age of four weeks. Rats can become pregnant at 5 weeks, so don’t get sloppy on separating babies at the proper time!
Hamsters are by and large solitary creatures. Keeping two together can lead to fighting. Your hamster will be happier alone, with lots of your attention. The only exceptions are certain types of dwarf hamsters. Research the species of hamster you’re getting ahead of time, and if you get one of the more social species and choose to keep a pair, be absolutely sure they’re the same sex!