We have all heard the phrase, “Two is better than one.” Well, when it comes to animal adoption, two really is better than one. Shelters and rescue groups throughout the United States have seen a marked increase in family pets being relinquished due to economic hardship. This has resulted in broken bonds between families and their companion animals, but also between bonded animals that have grown up together. So what could be better than adopting a homeless animal and saving it from needless euthanasia? Adopting two homeless animals and saving both of their lives while also ensuring they each have a companion with whom to bond, play, feel safe, and have fun. But besides saving lives, adopting companion animals in pairs has other benefits, too, both for the animals and for those who adopt them. Broadway Barks researched the topic and compiled the data on the benefits of adopting best buddies.
Adopting Bonded Animals Limits Trauma
Animals often enter a shelter in groups, whether they are rescued from a puppy mill, a hoarding situation, or are found as strays. These animals have lived together and have already bonded by the time they enter the shelter environment. Sometimes animals are brought into the shelter alone, but due to overcrowding are housed in a kennel with other animals. These situations create opportunities for the animals to forge close bonds, which limits the boredom and isolation that can often occur in a shelter.
The connection the animals make helps soothe the fear and stress caused by living in a noisy, crowded shelter. For years, rescue and shelter workers have recognized the importance of this animal bond and have made an effort to keep bonded animals together. Los Angeles Animal Services has even created a “Best Buddies” program, which identifies animal buddies and provides incentives, such as discounted adoption fees and free microchipping, to adopters who will take in more than one animal. By working to place animals together, LA’s Best Buddies program “helps to limit further separation trauma to an animal that has already been separated from his or her original home.” Studies show that animals bonded to one another live longer and healthier lives, but those emotional and physical benefits are not reserved just for animals—having an animal companion can make humans healthier and happier, too!
Kittens Keep Each Other Company
Even the most loving, caring human is not an adequate substitute for a kitten in lieu of one of its own kind. Kittens want and need interaction with other kittens for healthy social development. A kitten learns a lot in the first several months of life from its mother and littermates. Separating a kitten from its mother is often a necessity in order for it to be adopted, but taking it away from its littermates and isolating it can slow the kitten’s development emotionally, socially, and sometimes physically. Kittens that remain with one of their littermates, or a similarly aged companion, tend to be healthier and happier and, in the long run, better-socialized pets than those who are isolated at an early age.
Kittens are curious and have a seemingly endless supply of energy. As they grow and develop, they crave constant attention and stimulation. Though it is not acceptable for a kitten to bite and wrestle with its human companions, this is exactly what a kitten will want to do in the absence of having a littermate or companion its own age to play with. Even if you are willing to tolerate this behavior from your kitten when it is small, by the time the animal matures you will end up with an adult cat that has developed bad habits (for example, biting and scratching as “play”). Additionally, as many cat owners already know, the work of a bored kitten can be costly and destructive. One tiny bored kitten, without something to keep it occupied, will get into trouble by chewing on plants, climbing curtains, exploring electrical cords and sockets, scratching furniture, unrolling toilet paper, and other mayhem. Kittens also tend to be especially active at night. A single kitten is likely to keep its owner awake with constant jumping, pouncing, and other hunting behavior. Having a companion to play with after the owner has gone to bed reduces this behavior, as the two will occupy each other until they tire and fall asleep. Of course, animals that live with other animals can still get into trouble, but it is much less frequent because when young animals have friends to play with they usually keep each other occupied with hunting games, wrestling, play fighting, and chase.
Seniors Cats Need Companionship
If there is already an older cat in the household, a kitten should not be brought in as a lone companion. As mentioned above, a youngster has boundless energy, wants to play and run constantly, and requires very high amounts of interaction, all of which are likely to overwhelm and irritate an older cat. Likewise, a kitten is apt to be frustrated that its companion does not have the same energy level as it does. At the very least, this can lead to two very unhappy cats. In a worst-case scenario, behavior problems such as litter box avoidance or destructive scratching can occur if one or both cats act out their frustrations on their surroundings. Longer-term, it is almost certain that the two will never have a close, bonded relationship, even after the kitten matures, because their experiences with one another from the beginning of the relationship are likely to be negative. An older cat is better matched with someone of his or her own age who has a similar temperament.
Buddies Train Each Other
Many people fear that having two pets will mean twice the work, but this is not necessarily so. Destructive behavior is often due to boredom or separation anxiety and a playmate provides stimulation and security, which can reduce neurotic and destructive behaviors. Bored puppies will resort to chewing anything in their reach, including shoes, pillows, and furniture, if they are not given an opportunity to play and release their energy. Oftentimes a younger animal will look up to an older animal, and training will be transferred from one pet to the other. If you adopt two young animals rather than one, training them together will not be that much more difficult, as the animals will most likely see the training as a fun game and will learn quickly. Rough times in animal development, like teething, are usually made easier when animals are in pairs since the animals will be more interested in playing with each other or chewing each other’s toys, rather than chewing on furniture.
Spread the Love, Teach a Lesson
Many animals thrive when they find new purpose in the form of a friend in need. Adopting a bonded pair of animals can also teach little humans some very important lessons. When children help preserve the bond between two animals, they see how the animals comfort and support each other. This validates the importance of loyalty and cooperation—especially through times of adversity and loss. It can also provide a natural way for parents to discuss sibling relationships, or to address an only child’s concern about a new sibling. And helping to take care of family pets teaches children empathy, responsibility, and love.
Caring for more than one pet can be a wonderful experience as you discover each animal’s unique personality. Adopting bonded pairs of animals not only saves lives; it also ensures that adopted cats and dogs will live happy lives enriched with caring and supportive companionship. Won’t you adopt some best buddies today?
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