Single Kitten Syndrome

Just like all babies, kittens begin learning through interaction with their parents and
siblings. As I am sure you have seen, kittens play very hard with eachother. They bite and
scratch and pounce and make ferocious noises and sometimes get so rough that someone
ends up yelping. On the surface, it appears like nothing more than kittens having fun, but in
reality, they are actually teaching and learning from eachother. Among other things, they
are learning what is socially acceptable behavior, and what is not.
kittens2aIt’s like being in school; as they play together, they learn to hunt, to defend themselves, and how to get along with others. Kittens need the companionship and interaction with other kittens/cats as they grow, in order to learn these very important lessons. Humans, in most cases, can not teach these lessons effectively. A human can offer attention, love and caring, but when it comes to teaching a kitten all the things it needs to learn, in a way that it easily understands, we are simply no substitute for an actual feline companion.

You might think that your kitten’s playful stalking and attacking of your ankles, or biting your hand is cute and endearing, but when that kitten becomes an adult who has not learned what is acceptable, and the biting, stalking and attacking become even rougher, it’s not fun anymore. Sadly, many times these poorly socialized cats end up either being thrown outside to fend for themselves, or returned to the shelter where we will have a very hard time finding homes for them, due to their behavioral problems.


But not only do kittens teach and learn from eachother, they keep eachother well entertained! Kittens need to play for many hours daily and unfortunately, most humans these days, simply do not have that kind of time to spend playing with their kitten.

And along these same lines, adopting two kittens, or having another cat in the home is essential for mental and emotional health. Many people believe that cats are solitary creatures, but that is not true, feral cats who are free to choose how they live, tend to live in colonies; cats crave and need interaction with other cats. A single kitten or cat which must spend large parts of the day/night alone, can become not only lonely, but also bored, or even neurotic, which can lead to destructive behavior or inappropriate behavior like urinating in inappropriate places.

It is for these reasons that we almost always recommend adopting two kittens together, if there is no other cat already in the home. This is not about being able to adopt out more kittens, it is about trying to ensure that the kittens that we do find homes for, will stay in those homes for their entire lives. And that they develop happy and healthy relationships with people as well as with other animals.




About colvillevalleyanimalsanctuary

The Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned, neglected, and otherwise homeless companion animals. We provide both crisis and long-term sheltering, medical care, fostering, and adoption services - all with the goal of placing our animals permanently in safe and loving homes. We spay and neuter all of the animals in our care and actively promote, through financial donations and community support, the effort to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Stevens County. By example and through education, we promote and advance the values of responsible pet ownership and the humane treatment of animals.
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2 Responses to Single Kitten Syndrome

  1. rho says:

    Yes, buut what do we do, or what can we do with a cat whose history is that they were raised as a single kitten and now have this inappropriate biting behavior we can’t seem to extinguish?

  2. Teresa says:

    Hi Rho, sorry to hear you are having this problem. I sent your question to our cat volunteers and I got this relpy back, but also it would help if we had a bit more information, like what type of a biter is your kitty? Here is Becca’s reply:

    One of my cats used to bite when he got too excited during play, but it was pretty easily
    fixed with a little “tsss” sound and a gentle tap on the nose with my finger when he did it. I think
    he was a single kitten, though I don’t really know his background.

    But I don’t know if they’re talking about a playing bite, love bite, or an aggressive bite. An
    aggressive biter is something I’ve never come across, so I’m not sure. Maybe if he had
    toys that were appropriate for biting he would take it out that way? Mine love to chew
    on those catnip satchels.

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