Just Ask the Expert: How many kittens should be adopted at one time?


Veterinary behaviorist Dr. John Ciribassi says it depends on what the pet owner wants out of the relationship.

Dr. Ciribassi welcomes behavior questions from veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

Click here to submit your question, or send an email to vm@advanstar.com with the subject line "Behavior questions."

Q. If finances (including future veterinary medical care costs) are not a limiting factor, what are veterinary behaviorists' recommendations regarding an ideal number of kittens to adopt? A common recommendation from shelters is to adopt kittens in pairs. Have reliable studies or surveys been completed that support this? And does the suggestion to adopt kittens in pairs apply primarily to littermates (and if so, if three littermates are available, are three kittens better than two?). Or are kittens of about the same age but not littermates a suitable adoptable pair?

A. To my knowledge, no studies have been done that evaluate an ideal number of kittens to adopt. But there are some considerations to make when choosing how many to adopt.

• Multiple kittens in a home tend to focus on each other for play and companionship. This can give an older, resident cat a break from the play demands of a single kitten.

• Multiple kittens in a home commonly form stronger attachments to each other than they do with the people in the home. With a single kitten, greater bonding to the owner typically occurs. That said, rough play directed toward the owner can occur as a kitten practices predatory behavior.

Kittens tend to adapt well, so whether they are adopted alone or as a pair or more (and littermates or not), over time they fit in with their surroundings. So, I think the answer to these questions depends on the needs and desires of the people adopting. They need to assess the pros and the cons and choose accordingly. While it is always preferable to give homes to as many pets as possible, it is more critical, in my opinion, to bring the animal into a suitable situation.

John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB

Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants

1042 Mountain Glen Way

Carol Stream, IL 60188

Related Videos
Cat at vet / Elnur / stock.adobe.com
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.