Many people have only one cat and wonder why their cat attacks their feet, races around the house at night, yowls, or is overweight. Many of these problems are not present in cats that have been raised in multi-cat households. It was once believed that cats were solitary animals and did not need other cats in order to be happy. In a sense, that is true. A human can meet all of a cat’s social needs. But if the cat is left alone for several hours at a time or if you’re not inclined to spend a significant portion of your free time playing with your cat, she would probably be better off with a feline companion to meet those needs. Here are three reasons to own multiple cats.
1. Less Destructive Kittens
When I worked in the pet supply industry, customers frequently asked me, “What’s the best toy for a kitten who has a lot of energy?”
I invariably answered, “Another kitten.”
If you get a kitten for your kitten, they will keep one another busy. Instead of climbing your curtains, they will wrestle and play tag. Aside from the doubled food and veterinary costs, it’s easier to keep two kittens than one. The extraordinary spurts of energy typical of kittens can only really be matched by other kittens. Two really are better than one!
2. Longer-Lived Cats
Studies show that cats who have at least one other cat in the household live longer on average than solo cats. The best thing you can do to make sure your cat lives a long life is keep her indoors. If you’re doing that already, owning at least two cats will further extend both cats’ expected longevity.
This could be for a variety of reasons. The two most likely are mental stimulation and a healthy weight. Playing with another cat reduces a cat’s chance of becoming obese. It also keeps them mentally active well into old age, when solo cats might become lethargic and allow their minds to deteriorate early.
3. Smarter Cats
Studies show that cats kept indoors alone during the day have brains that weigh up to 25% less than the brains of cats that live exclusively outdoors. The dangers of keeping a cat outdoors outweigh the benefits of a larger brain, but you can strive to provide as much mental stimulation indoors as your cat would experience outdoors. Indoor cats kept in pairs engage in social interaction that indoor cats kept alone can never really perform, such as mutual grooming or wrestling.
In addition, most rescues report that cats are returned more often due to a behavior problem if only one cat was adopted rather than two. More pets are euthanized each year due to behavior problems than due to all contagious illnesses affecting pets combined. Reducing the likelihood of a behavior problem is as easy as just getting a second cat.
Of course, you should never adopt more pets than you can make a lifetime commitment to. If you’re not sure that you have the time, love, and money to get another cat, don’t adopt one. Your cat will be happier solo in a lifetime home than with a companion in a shelter.