Cats Are Happier in Pairs, What to Do and the Reasons Why

Cats do tend to be happier in pairs. They are social animals that benefit greatly from having another cat to pal around with.

The cats can also keep each other occupied and teach each other how to behave. However, having two cats is also more expensive and double the responsibility.

If you’re considering adopting two cats, I’m not here to talk you out of it—I think it’s a fantastic idea, and there are tons of cats out there in need of a home. But, you shouldn’t think it will cut down on your work entirely either.

In this article we’ll talk about why cats are better in pairs, as well as the few drawbacks that come with having two cats instead of one.


Adopting One Cat is Fine, but two is Better

Cats are social animals. They naturally live in colonies, and aren’t as independent as some people like to think.

The reason we see cats as more independent than they are is because they do require their own space. In your home, this means giving each a place to rest, a litterbox, and a place to scratch.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have two cats in a small space, however. Two cats will be perfectly happy in a small apartment where one sleeps on a cat tree and one on the back of the couch, watching birds outside the window.

Having two cats means they’re always socializing, playing, and learning from one another. This benefits both you and them!

Adopting two cats also means giving two furbabies homes in a world overrun with strays. Hundreds of thousands of cats are killed in shelters every year, and there are many friendly strays that would benefit from the longer lifespan indoor life gives to a cat.

So, if you’re asking whether you should save two or one, I’m almost always going to say two!


Adopting a Cat is Saving a Life

If you only want to adopt one cat, I don’t want to make you feel guilty—it’s already an amazing thing you’re doing.

But if you want two cats, or you’re still deciding what’s best, I think it’s worth pointing out that adopting a cat is saving a life.

Whether you’re taking a friendly stray off the street, as I’ve done with my cats, or adopting from a shelter, you’re greatly improving and likely lengthening that cat’s life.

Outdoors, cats live an average of 2-5 years. In overcrowded shelters, even kittens are sometimes euthanized for space.

Unfortunately, it’s a rough world for homeless cats. We can’t change it overnight, but adopting when we can makes a small difference that means everything to the cat, or cats, who you’re adopting.

When kept indoors, your cats may live 15-20 years, or even longer! That’s possibly over 4 times the lifespan they’d have otherwise.


Bonded Pairs Adapt Easier to New Homes

Bonded pairs are cats who know each other and have bonded together. For example, my two oldest cats are brothers. As strays living in our back yard, they did everything together.

When we decided to adopt them, we knew we had to take both because from birth until ten months old, they’d never been separated from one another.

Most shelters and rescues try to keep bonded pairs together, too. Being moved around is stressful for cats, and moving into your home can be a difficult transition.

Having a friend can make that transition so much easier, and can help your cats adapt and grow comfortable in their new home faster.

Of course, you can also adopt two cats who don’t know each other and introduce them in your home. There’s nothing wrong with this—but if you’re looking to adopt two cats anyway, I would suggest looking for a pair that’s already bonded.


Cats Teach Each Other

Some common cat problems can be avoided through adopting two cats, and it’s likely your cats will have better manners if they have a friend.

In the same way that we keep litters of kittens together for the first 6-12 weeks of life so that they can teach each other how to interact, socialize, and play, cats can keep learning from one another long after this time.

They’re less likely to bite too hard or play too roughly, as cats won’t tolerate behavior like that from one another.

It’s also incredibly fun to see your cats learning from one another in other areas. For example, I’ve taught my cats a few tricks in part by teaching one cat what I want them to do, then having them show the others!

It wasn’t required, but they learned faster. It also helped the confused cats see what was expected.


Two Cats Can Keep Each Other Company

Most people work outside the home and have busy family lives that don’t allow them to be with their cats 24/7. Having two cats allows them to keep each other company when you’re away.

In fact, cats living with other pets in the home are less likely to develop separation anxiety.

They’re also less likely to get bored or feel lonely throughout your work day, or while you’re running errands.

Your cats will also likely be less demanding of your time while you are home, because they won’t be counting on you exclusively for companionship or entertainment.

While I don’t recommend adopting kittens if you work long shifts, two grown cats would be absolutely perfect for a situation like this.


The Cats Can Play Together

Having two cats means that they can play together when you’re occupied and can’t play with them. They’ll still need attention, but they won’t be in your hair quite as often as they might otherwise.10-1

Cats with a companion are likely to be more active, which will keep them healthier and happier.

Of course, you’ll still need to provide plenty of ways for your cats to entertain themselves. Scratching posts and toys they can play with independently are crucial.

So is having around 30-45 minutes of daily playtime with you. Break this time into a few 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day, centered around meal times or times when you want your cats to be more relaxed, like right before bed.


Having Two Cats can Save Time in Some Areas

Having two cats can save you time because they play together and keep each other company. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll never have to play or spend time with your cats!

Cats should get around 30-45 minutes of dedicated playtime from you. You don’t have to separate the cats for play, though, but can play with the two of them together.

Break this play into 2-3 sessions throughout the day to make it more manageable for you, and to ensure your cat doesn’t get bored through one long play session.

Although having two cats can be a time saver, keep in mind that you’ll still have to put time and effort into things such as training, grooming, clean-up, and introductions (if your cats don’t already know one another).


The Downsides to Having Two Cats

Of course, despite all the positive aspects of adopting two cats, there are some downsides. Adopting two cats instead of one is:

  • More expense when it comes to vet bills, cat food, and litter
  • Double the cat hair and an extra litterbox, which mean more time cleaning up after your furballs
  • Twice the time spent training and grooming your cats

All in all, I think the benefits of adopting two cats greatly outweigh the drawbacks. It also means you get to save two lives and have two new family members in your home!


Writer: Katelynn Sobus

I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry.  My full bio