By Magda Szulc
Kittens and puppies are very much like human babies – they need lots of attention.
They need us to watch over them to make sure they don’t get into trouble. They need warmth, security and lots of love.
Quite often when a family gets a new puppy, they try to do it during a period when they can devote some time to the new arrival, maybe take some time off of work, spend a few days at home making sure the puppy settles in and is comfortable in their new surroundings.
The same is not always true for kittens. Because grown cats, by nature, are more self-sufficient than dogs, many people believe they can bring a kitten home, set them up with food, a littler box, a few toys and all is well.
Many people don’t worry too much about leaving a kitten home alone all day while they go off to work. While kittens will, in fact, fend for themselves for the day, emotionally, they will suffer.
Contrary to popular belief, cats are very social animals who thrive on company.
Young kittens, like many other animals, learn most of their social skills through play with others.
More and more rescue groups have implemented the policy of only adopting kittens out in pairs. This is especially the case when a kitten is going into a home with no other animals.
This is not a strategy to adopt out extra kittens, not a two-for-one deal to clear out inventory. It is simply something that is done in the best interest of the animals in our care.
Two kittens will keep each other company and provide one another with the warmth they so desperately need when they are very young. They will entertain each other and hopefully leave your plants and furniture in peace. They will comfort each other. They will sleep together, eat together, wait for you to get home together. They will still be thrilled to see you when you walk through that door at the end of a long day, but they won’t suffer the loneliness that a single kitten at home alone does.
Of course, if you already have another cat, or five, or maybe a dog who loves feline company the kitten may be OK.
Although some people will argue that the bond of siblings (real or adopted) is the strongest, the bottom line is that a kitten needs another kitten to wrestle with. The role that this interaction plays in their healthy development is unquestionable.
So if you are considering adding a new feline member to your family, and you are partial to kittens, please consider bringing a pair home. They will have each other for company. You will be able to rest easy that while you are away your little bundle of fluffy joy is not lonely, and hopefully they will wrestle with each other and not your favorite vase or priceless china.
If nothing else, you will have a pair that will be bonded for life. Two is always better than one.
Magda Szulc is a volunteer at Katie’s Place, an animal shelter in Maple Ridge.