RAPS judges every potential adoption on a case-by-case basis and what is best for the cat. In general, though, we favour adopting kittens or cats in pairs, if there are not already cats in the home. Here’s why …
Jinx and Whiskers are six-year-old cats who came to RAPS recently. They have been together their whole lives, are completely bonded and are distressed when apart.
These two are an example of an informal policy RAPS has of adopting cats in pairs. They will go to a home together.
But even cats who are not so firmly bonded as these two will generally be adopted in pairs – part of an informal policy RAPS has that represents the latest research in animal welfare.
If a potential adopter does not have other cats in the home, RAPS will recommend adopting two animals together.
“We don’t have a strict policy,” says Valerie Wilson, assistant manager of the RAPS Cat Sanctuary. “We want to go on a case-by-case basis. But there is scientific evidence to prove that most cats do better in a home with another feline companion. Kittens, especially, learn from each other on social cues. That’s how they learn how to not to bite and scratch – because they get bitten and scratched by their siblings.”
Of course, every cat has a distinctive personality. Some just don’t get along with other felines.
“We don’t want to force a cat to live with another cat, but if they are kittens and they’re used to having a friend around, we don’t want to separate them,” Wilson says. “If a cat comes in and he’s six months old and he’s not that happy being around other cats, then we are not going to force the issue. If they are even older, we definitely try to seek an only-cat home if they clearly don’t get along with other cats.”
It is always on a case-by-case basis.
This “pair policy” is neither firm nor new, Wilson says.
“We’ve always encouraged people to adopt two, but we’re just leaning into it more,” she says. “We’ve always preferred it. Science shows that it’s better for the cats’ welfare and that’s what we are about.”
Single Kitten Syndrome is an acknowledged phenomenon in which kittens who are raised with other kittens and cats, then adopted into a home by themselves, can become aggressive, anxious, stressed and, in extreme cases, develop behavioural issues like inappropriate chewing, scratching, or inappropriate litter box behaviours.
“They become depressed, too, or they can be really needy,” says Wilson. “People might like that, but think about what they do when you’re gone all day. They are lonely and depressed.”
Humans can be great companions, she adds, but we are not a replacement for their own species. We can’t teach them the way their own species can.
This policy will be of interest to potential adopters – and this is the time of year when RAPS has a lot of adoptable cats and kittens.
“At the Adoption Centre, we have 14 right now that are available but more that are coming up in weeks to come,” Wilson says. “We have lots of kittens coming in.”
For more information about adoption and to begin the process if you are considering adding a member to your family, learn more here.