Cats are surprisingly social creatures, though the range of sociability varies. You may have noticed that there are felines who do not enjoy the company of other cats, and some even struggle to be in the same vicinity as other cats. However some cats form very strong bonds and become what is generally known as a bonded pair of cats. These cats become dependent on each other, and to ensure their happiness (and even health) must be adopted together.
How do you know two cats are actually a bonded pair?
It is not hard to tell when two felines become a bonded pair. Once they bond they will spend the majority of their time together. They will eat at the same time, play with one another, groom one another, sleep together and lounge together. If they are apart and one of them shows or vocalizes any type of distress the other will quickly appear out of nowhere to protect his friend.
This is not to say that bonded pairs don’t take time to themselves, and just like human siblings, there may be fights, and even times when they avoid one another all together.
There are cats that live in the same household for years and simply co-exist, and then there are bonded pairs that are inseparable. It is very important for rescuers to know when two cats from the same home can be adopted out separately, and when they must go together.
Separating a bonded pair is very traumatic on the cat. They will mourn the loss of their companion, they can become depressed, and even develop behavioural issues.
This is why it is so important for shelters to adopt bonded pairs together no matter how long they have to wait for a home.
When can cats become bonded?
Usually as kittens
- Strong bonds between cats often happen when they are young.
- Litter mates adopted together are most likely to form this very strong connection. Like any siblings they will fight at times, but they will become inseparable and very protective of one another.
- Two kittens adopted from separate litters can also form this same type of connection. They will become as bonded as any biological duo. They may initially hiss at one another, but this will not last very long, especially when they are very young.
Sometimes as adult cats
- Older cats who are social can become very close when they find themselves in the same home. Though it generally takes longer for adult cats to become bonded (if it happens at all).
- There is generally a hierarchy to figure out, emotional baggage to sort through, and boundaries to draw. Cats are very individual and not all personalities will merge as nicely as others. For example, shy cats tend to become very attached to confident and submissive felines, but may be completely overwhelmed by confident and dominant ones.
And even at unexpected times…
- The most interesting feline bonds are the ones we see forming at the shelter. Two seemingly independent felines will suddenly become attached after arriving at the shelter from two completely different backgrounds.
- There is usually a distinct progression of the relationship. One cat follows the other one around while the other one pretends to be bothered by the intrusion. Then over time the latter “gives” in and accepts the former. It’s like a well-choreographed dance. The bottom line is that once the bond is formed it is as strong as any other, and the cats need to be adopted together.
Adopting a Bonded Pair of Cats
If you are looking for a feline companion for your cat then a bonded pair may not be your best choice. Your cat may become the “odd” man out. However if you have more than one cat, or if you have no cats, then bringing a bonded pair home is a great idea for many reasons:
- They will never be lonely and you don’t have to feel guilty if you need to be out all day.
- You already know that the two cats you’ve adopted will get along.
- They will adjust faster to their new home if they have a trusted buddy by their side.
- Having two cats isn’t much more work than one, but it certainly is twice the love.
- You are saving two lives.
Some people worry that a bonded pair may not be as affectionate to their human family since they already have a best friend, but that is rarely the case. The relationship between the cats is different than the relationship they have with us. We play a different role in their life, and let’s remember – they need someone to snuggle with when they are fighting with their “sibling”.
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