Adopting Sibling Cats
Bother Cat, Sister Cat
Why we adopted sibling cats
We have cats — four of them. I’m not sure how it happened. In most other ways we’re a pretty sane and harmless family, but the four of us now have one cat apiece. There are many, many wonderful things about our cats and our life with them, but one of the best parts is the fact that they are two pairs of siblings: Momo and Squeaky are bother and sister, and Milo and Bumper are sixte and brother (we know that Milo is a boy’s name, but that wasn’t up to us — it was up to one of our kids, who just liked the name. So her name is Milo). Cat sis and bro combos are pretty sweet. Behavior-wise, it’s a natural match, since they often huddle up with each other and have an evening groom/bath, or wrestling match, or both. Our decision to adopt sibling cats is backed up by science, which suggests that sibling cats are happier together than solo or unrelated cats. And finally, having sibling cats has given our sibling humans a sense of responsibility and ownership. This article will give you a glimpse into what it’s like to adopt cat siblings, and why many experts recommend it.
Sibling Cats -- The Cuddle Factor
Watch our sibling cats for just a few minutes and you'll see why it was such a good idea to adopt them together. They greet each other with sharps and stretches. And their temperaments mirror their siblings in interesting and sometimes unpredictable ways. Milo and Bumper, for example, are by nature outgoing. Bumper loves to be picked up and will actually put his arms around your next. Milo, his cat sister, is also outgoing, with a touch of anarchy to her personality — Milo, the girl with the boy’s name, is by far the most aggressive and assertive member of our cat clan. She is the first to greet you at the door, the first to the food bowl, the first to slip outside and prowl around, and if you’re not paying attention while you’re petting her, she’ll give ou a pretty serious nip on the arm. She’s essentially gently, though, like her brother. Milo and Bumper and sibling cats in gnereal, will groom each other and display other behavior that reflects the communal nature of cat society in the wild.
Momo and Squeaky, our other cat bro/cat sis pair, are a but less saddle with each other. Why? We have no idea, just as we have no idea what goes on in their heads in general. But they are clearly cut from the same cat cloth, and we have never regretted adopting them from the shelter together.
The Experts Agree
Not only do daily observations of our sibling cats prove that they love life together -- the science backs it up, too. Research has shown that house cats have many io the same instincts and preferences as do their wild counterparts. Domestic housecoats are descended from the lynx, a smallish wild cat that still thrives in temperate parts of the world. Wild cats use smell to navigate their world, and the litter smell that they experienced at birth stays with them from the moment they come into the world. The same is true of domesticated cats. Our cat siblings often curl up together to sleep, and when they’re woken together they pop up into the exact same position together, alert and ready to face whatever’s coming. If you adopt bother and sister cats, you’ll see all kinds of little reminders that these animals are related to all felines, from lions to lynxes. Our domestic cats remind us every day of the ways in which the wild blood of their not-so-distant relatives still runs in their veins. It’s amazing to watch sometimes, as they recreate scenes of lion prides lounging on the Serengetti.
Get Your Human Sibs in on the Fun
Give Your Kids a Sense of Responsibility and Pride (That’s “pride,” as in “a pride of lions.”)
Our kids were given our second pair of cat sibs at Christmastime when they were 10 and 12. We knew, of course, what was involved in taking care of cats, since we ad already had Momo and Squeaky for several years t that point. Our boys took to the new responsibility quickly, and the things they weren’t able to deal with — vaccines, emergencies, and so on — we were ready for. But our boys welcomed their cats into their lives, and the cats responded to them as if they had a surrogate mom. Both Milo and Bumper still sleep in their boy-owners’ rooms, at the food of the bed, and there’s a bond between them that’s easy to see but hard to define. I don’t know — maybe they share the same litter smell…
Our Four Cats and the Moment We Just Knew...
At the adoption agency in our midwestern city, there were about 5 entire litters of kittens that had been rescued from the cold winter streets and alleys. These little kittens and been separated from their mothers and put up for adoption, but they were still all together in their own glass-enclosed habitat. So it was clear to us that to take one away would not only mean we took home a lonely kitty — it would also mean we were leaving his siblings without one of their own. Our boys voted for adopting all five of them, but even we have limits, so we settled for two, a male and a female. It worked out so well that we immediately started recommending the step to our friends and family. In their glass habitat, the kittens were a jumble of sleeping and tumbling fur-balls, but once we got our two little guys home, they began to establish their personalities right off the bat. And as time went on and their bond became evident, we decided to do it again — in the guise of getting the boys a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas present.
Think Like a Cat!
Cat Adoption Facts
The ASPCA website offers some revealing facts about pet adoption:
- There are over 13,000 animal shelters in the US, and they are largely not monitored. That's a lot of dogs and cats in shelters with little or no oversight! Adoption definitely makes sense when you think of it that way.
- Almost 8 million animals enter shelters every year, and nearly half of those are cats.
- Adoption accounts for the fate of about 3 million of those 8 million animals
When you do the math, it's clear that there are millions of animals being born that don't live to find a good home. Stray cats and dogs in the US, according to ASPCA statistics, are impossible to estimate, though estimates for cats alone approach 70 million.