Two kittens aren’t better than one if you’re neurodivergent

Adopt kittens in pairs, they said.

It’s not more work, they said.

Raising two kittens is like raising one adult cat, they said.

They were obviously not neurodivergent.

Can neurotypicals please stop romanticizing taking on more than you can without straight up implying that neurodivergent people shouldn’t take on anything if they’re disabled?

Oh, you say, then why did you adopt a kitten??

Because where else was she to go? I wanted the chance to bond with my cat sooner rather than later. I also didn’t want her to be impregnated by her brothers because I decided to wait too long??

Galaxy’s story

Galaxy, along with her siblings, was dumped on a guy’s property in Ben Wheeler.

It’s like I have a sign that says drop your unwanted pets here.

He cares for the adult cats and dogs, and gives away the kittens. Let’s call this guy Bob, because it’s easier to reference and I don’t remember his actual name?

 

Going by the vet’s age approximation based on her lack of incisors, the age she and her siblings were dumped would have been about five weeks. At the time, I was stressed from moving so I didn’t realize how long I had been saying she was five weeks.

Bob gave my grandmother and me dibs.

White kitten, black kitten, orange kitten in kennel atop old plush princess blanket

She decided to take the white cat with orange tips, the black calico, and the orange tabby. I actually requested to have two — she’d designated the white one mine, and I wanted the solid black one — but she said one was going to be a handful. I ultimately did adopt two — the white one and the black calico. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I don’t find white cats especially beautiful and that I’ve a soft spot for black cats, because she thought the white cat one was so me. She also thought the white cat was a girl, but he was not.

The black calico was called a tortie when I took the two kittens to the vet. I named her Galaxy.

The term kitty spice latte originates from her brother, the white cat with orange tips, because my first thought when I saw him was Christian girl Autumn + pumpkin spice lattes. I was actually going for a Spice Girl name, before I knew he was male.

Bob’s brother adopted the black male kitten.

The white cat, who I named Narumi, then Supernova (Nova) because I didn’t want to have to constantly explain the Japanese name to white people living in small towns — then Leo, because Nova sounds too much like no and he just responded to it better. He looked a lot like the Meowth Pokemon, but I disliked that as a name.

Behavioral + territorial issues

White kitten laying on kitty playpen ceiling

Leo’s coloring was perceived as Siamese coloring. I’m not one for stigmatizing cat breeds or anything, but his behavior raised a lot of red flags for me as a neurodivergent person who has also experienced a lot of trauma.

  • He demanded constant attention and would misbehave in order to get it.
  • He was vocal, while I was in autistic burnout and spent a couple weeks unable to speak most of the time.
  • Although I did train it out of him via redirecting him to scratching posts, he clawed my legs and used them as a scratching post.
  • Subtle changes in my personal appearance caused him to freak out. I have dissociative identity disorder, and alters have different body chemistry. Cats can sense subtle changes in body chemistry, so even the most minor of switches caused him to freak.
  • I have year-round allergies. Every time I coughed, sneezed or blew my nose, he jumped into the scaredy cat pose, and attempts to bond started over.
  • Just having moved into my second apartment, I would obviously be unpacking and getting furniture. After I let them into my room after building and making my bed, he went bonkers until I got the red plaid throw blanket out of the dryer and could suckle it to sleep.

Human = territory

The final straw was his jealousy. He’d attack my phone and water bottle while they were in my hand, but I was more concerned for Galaxy. I tried to spend equal time with the both of them, but Galaxy had imprinted on me and Leo wanted nothing to do with me after I so much as pet Galaxy. He would straight up attack her, and she would snarl at him to let her go in vain. I’m not a fan of spraying cats with water, but it was the only thing that got him off of her. He would stay on her for a good five minutes. I’m well aware of when kittens are play fighting versus when the aggression is real.

Black kitten and white kitten laying on bed next to window, looking out window

Christmas Eve, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore because the whole thing was stressing me out and causing me to cry. I was terrified of him most of the time. I couldn’t separate them due to living in a one-bedroom apartment, when I put him in the bathroom, he’d cry and I’d just feel terrible. That night, I shut myself in the bathroom because I needed time alone to consider whether I was making the right decision. He’d been wanting outside, anyway, trying to run out the door every time I opened it.

I was hesitant until I opened the bathroom door — Leo hissed three times and jumped into the Halloween cat pose before running into the bedroom. My trauma responses were triggered, and I just started crying. Galaxy approached me and just sat next to me.

I’m sure Christmas Day was as traumatic for them as it was for me, but that’s a story for another post. Leo initially was going to be my grandmother’s barn cat, because she was interested in him after learning he was male, but Bob’s brother wanted another kitten and decided to adopt Leo. He thinks Leo is beautiful, and he also owns a Chihuahua, so he’s used to needy pets with spice.

A pair of kittens may not get along at all

This is probably a one-of-a-kind story, but it still bears worth sharing in this post because

  1. kittens in a litter can all have different fathers, thus making them half-siblings, and
  2. not every pair of kittens who grow up together remain friendly.

Bonded pairs are not promises that kittens will get along with each other once their personalities develop and they reach maturity.

When kittens are rescued in rural Texas by people who know reliable people to adopt kittens out to, they’re unlikely to be kept long enough to determine which pairs are bonded. Lots of people don’t think about that kind of thing — nor do they take their pets to the vet. On farms, it’s more or less survival of the fittest.

It’s not necessarily neglect, especially since the people who dumped the kittens at five weeks were the ones who neglected the kittens.

Difficulties of owning multiple cats, regardless of your space size

Litter box woes

  1. Unless they go outside, changing the litter box quickly becomes a twice daily act at the least.
  2. Litter box ratio: 1 litter box per cat + 1

Twice the work

I don’t know who these people are that are saying two kittens are equal to the work of one adult cat, but no it is definitely not!

What you teach one kitten, the other will learn. Likewise, whatever bad behavior one does, the other will pickup. Even if you train the bad behavior out of the first cat, it will pick that behavior right back up from the second if the second takes longer to learn the better behavior.

You have twice the poop to scoop, twice scratching posts to find places for, and twice the cats to prevent from escaping their indoor cat flat.

Triple the expenses

  1. Vet bills of Kitten #1
  2. Vet bills of Kitten #2
  3. Vet bills of when kittens hurt each other, because it does happen + medical expenses for your ringworm

Territorial woes

Cats are territorial. As explained above in Galaxy’s story, humans are territory. If you have a larger space, you may be able to combat this easier, but having a bigger home doesn’t promise a solution to the territorial woes of adopting two kittens instead one.


What was your experience in adopting kittens in pairs (or not)?

How does your neurodivergence affect your life as a cat parent?

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Comments on this post

Ugh. Yeah. I think people who say “raising two kittens is like caring for one cat” are insane! Young kittens can be very needy!

Also when feeling burned out, it can be difficult to do basic care things, like feeding or emptying litter. Aaalso… Young cats and kittens need lots of stimulation and play! I really don’t want an animal to feel neglected while I’m taking a day in bed/on the couch to recharge myself.

I once shared a house with people who only emptied their cat’s litter once every week. This cat was so angry, and they always said “she is fine”. 😞

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I found it easier to care for my cats than to care for myself.

Two kittens will play with each other, and that’s amazing. My autism burnout wasn’t spent primarily in bed, but rather sitting on my kitchen floor. I definitely did things, I just couldn’t function in society as was expected of me at the time. I spent an entire month and a half to myself, just focusing on me and spending time with kitties. ‘Twas a dream.

That said, one cat is sooo much easier. I do wish I had an older cat as well, but I can always get one later when I have a better handle on ish, work for myself, and have more space.

I think the people who encourage two kittens are able-bodied people with a lot of money and time on their hands. Maybe they have kids or a partner to help lessen the load of that, but as a single person…it’s a ridiculous expectation. I’ve also only ever heard about that kind of restriction/guideline when looking through legit adoption channels, or in cities where it’s common to find foster pet parents. You don’t get that in rural Texas, where it’s survival of the fittest for everyone. They’re cats or they’re dogs are literally the phrases.

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I’m so glad that you’re speaking about your experiences of raising two kittens, it’s so much more stressful than people give credit for, and it’s especially hard when you have other things going on. For a short period I ended up with three cats, but am now back down to one.

To keep a long story short, I had adopted one cat a few years ago to help with major suicidal depression and it was fantastic, though I always lamented that he is a more stand-offish cat that doesn’t like to be picked up or cuddled at all. I think in the long run that’s a good thing for someone like me though, at the time I had an extremely high-stress job, and I have an anxiety disorder and regular depressive episodes. I get so overwhelmed I can’t function very well, so having a low-maintenance cat is helpful.

Last year we had agreed to adopt two kittens from a friend that found a box of abandoned kittens on his driveway, four in all, around 6 months old. We thought two would be good, fearing one kitten would get bullied by my cat, but we were so wrong. One of the kittens ended up dominating all three cats, there were territory wars and they sprayed everything. We had three constantly filled litter boxes that we changed multiple times a day. One kitten needed 24/7 attention from me and constantly climbed on me and interrupted my work, and the other fought so much he kept re-opening a gash in his neck that he had when we adopted him. They were food goblins with no regard for their personal safety, trying to run onto stovetops to eat out of the pot of food I was cooking.

The final straw was my daughter’s allergies which we didn’t know she had. She never had an issue with my old cat, his stand-offish nature ended up being a very good thing, and he is very clean. The kittens made her allergies go insane, I learned later it was being caused by all the litter boxes and spraying. My stress went through the roof, and we had to make the decision to give them to a home more capable of caring for them. Since they were young they were adopted immediately by a loving family so I don’t have any regrets, though I do miss them both sometimes, I know it was the best decision for both my and my daughter’s health.

I always thought I might like a kitten, but I think with my anxiety I don’t have the energy to handle a cat that needs lots of attention and play time anymore. It’s just so much easier for me to have an older cat.

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In terms of spraying, it’d have likely been dealt with by spaying and neutering.

Beyond that, the stress is definitely not worth it. I believe the energies of pet owners and pets need to match each other, because chemistry is important. Cats can sense people’s stress as well.

I am allergic to cats, but I don’t care. Galaxy is also the equivalent of my child, so she’s literally my baby and I can’t imagine having to let her go at this point. 🥲 I also can’t image how I’d have managed two kittens in general. I thought she would be keen to be a lap/lounging cat, but she loves training and going for walks in her harness.

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