Sunday 4 April 2021

Do cat siblings get along?

Do cat siblings get along? It is an important question. On the face of it, if a person adopts two siblings from the same litter when they first adopt a cat they give each cat an instant companion for life. This can take a load of responsibilities away from the cats' owner because they can entertain themselves. 

Domestic cats are social creatures despite what you read on the Internet about them being independent and solitary. Over 10,000 years of evolution in domestication they had developed into far more social creatures which means they need companionship which in turn means that their human guardian should be around. Sometimes they can't be around because of work commitments which is when a cat companion steps up to the plate.

Lykoi cat siblings
Lykoi cat siblings. Photo: Brittney Gobble.

So the question as to whether cat siblings get along can be vitally important. And the answer is yes and no. When they are kittens and sub-adults they do get along. They entertain each other and play-fight with each other. The world is perfect if they are in the right home. But when they grow up and become individuals with better developed characters they can start to dislike each other. They may be incompatible. The relationship cools and they drift apart. Sounds familiar?

I do not have statistics on the percentage of siblings who are compatible or incompatible. But there is quite a good chance that they will be incompatible so you can't bank on adopting siblings in the expectation that they will get along for the rest of their lives. This means the policy of a double adoption of kittens from a shelter might not work.

That does not mean you can't adopt two rescue cats from a shelter who are adults. In fact there is an advantage to adopting two adult cats that need to get along because you know that they get along. The shelter staff will be able to assess this and tell you. The cats have been tried and tested. Their characters have matured so if they do get along it will likely be permanent.

I remember when I adopted my cat from an animal rescue centre, the organiser told me that cat siblings do not get along. She must have had a bad experience in adopting siblings herself. Or she had noticed that within the shelter siblings were fighting. She was partly right. Sometimes they don't, as mentioned, but they might and they often do. It's down to personalities.

But once they become adults they like to establish their home range. In the wild when kittens become adults and leave the natal nest they go out into the big wide world and establish their home range i.e. their territory. They want their piece of landscape and if they are in a home together they might be fighting over that territory. Or they might fight over some of the assets such as food and the litter tray.

And if they are incompatible they may urinate inappropriately, they may defecate inappropriately or they may spray urine and finally they may scratch furniture and walls to mark territory. So it will be a bad scene despite best intentions.

I think that the only surefire way of knowing if two cats will get along is by trying it out. That's why I think cat shelters should allow adopters to take a cat back to their home where there is a resident cat for a week to see what happens. They should be open to the possibility of the cat being returned. That should be part of the contract. It may be possible in some cat shelters. I don't know of any other way to deal with this very difficult question of multi-cat homes. Perhaps I'm being too negative because I know their are some very successful homes in which there are several cats.

And when you think about it in this instance domestic gas are being no different to human beings. How many dysfunctional families do you know? How many human siblings do you know who fight with each other because who dislike each other? It is very common for human siblings not to get on.

I myself don't get on very well with my brother and I never got along with my late sister. We were quite different characters. Hell, I didn't even get on with my parents that well either.

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