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Bonded pairs

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

What are bonded pairs?

Cats may be known as aloof, but they are astoundingly 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] they must be adopted together to avoid Single Kitten Syndrome [SKS].

Bonded pairs reflect the natural instinct of felines to form a pack. Much like their ancestors in the wild, cats thrive in a pack where there is a stable social structure that provides comfort and security.

Our bonded pairs are usually clearly marked in their PetFinder Adoption Profiles as “Bonded Pair” to clarify the situation. All our cats marked as a bonded pair contains two cats that have a special relationship and seek a home that will adopt them together. So if you are only in the market for one kitty, move on to the next cat as we make no exceptions! If you are even considering only adopting one of a bonded pair, you are simply not considering the cat's happiness and lifelong well-being.

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.

So how do they end up together?

Observant rescue staff members know the cats in their care. They recognise personality differences, likes and dislikes and identify pairs of cats that get along particularly well. Once they note a special bond, care takers work to keep the feline friends together knowing that bonded pairs do better together. In fact, when separated, bonded pairs often fail to thrive. Adoption centers recognize these helpful feline relationships and aim to promote adoption of bonded pairs.

A bonded pair of cats have spent most [if not all] of their lives together, either being raised as kitten siblings or long-time companions. Due to this, the relationship between a bonded pair usually runs deep. Bonded relationships can run so deep it can greatly affect one or both cats’ well-being if the pair is broken up. This is why we work extra hard to keep the pair together, knowing that separating them could cause problems with eating, behavior and their overall health.

Note: the bond doesn’t have to be familial. Although bonded pairs are often siblings, they don’t have to be related at all.

Our shelters don’t randomly house cats together to save space, nor do we insist potential pet owners adopt two at a time to reduce the shelter population. Rather, we recognize bonded pairs and encourage (or require) dual adoption in the best interest of the cats.

Benefits of adopting a pair of Bonded Cats:

  • Pairs are happier

  • Pairs are healthier

  • Pairs will adjust faster to their new home if they have a trusted buddy by their side

  • Pairs will never be lonely & there is less separation anxiety when you are away because the cats are not really alone. They have each other to entertain themselves

  • Decreased mishaps, idle minds mean trouble. Bored cats sometimes become destructive: scratching furniture, tearing curtains, soiling rugs

  • You already know that the two cats you’ve adopted will get along

  • Pairs learn from each other, bonded cats continually learn from each other how to behave at their best, and the consequences of their actions

  • Having two cats isn’t much more work than one, but it certainly is twice the love

  • You are saving two lives

By sharing cat toys, litter boxes, lounge areas and beds, having a bonded pair costs roughly the same as having a single cat. Plus, since one cat will need a regular feeding and litter box cleaning schedule, adding one more won’t feel like twice the work.

Because two cats tend to live happier and healthier, there’s less chance of bad or destructive behavior, which means less damage to furniture and belongings, and happier pet owners. But the best reason of all to adopt a bonded pair: double the affection.

How to Tell if Cats are Bonded

While still having their own individual needs and personalities, bonded cats tend to do many things together. Some pairs have stronger bonds than others and do nearly everything together, while others are content with their own space as long as they know their feline counterpart is nearby.

If you find your cats sleeping and snuggling together, it’s a sure sign that they have formed a strong bond. This is especially noteworthy because sleeping is when cats are at their most vulnerable, meaning they feel safe and secure with each other. Bonded cats may also rub their bodies and faces together to exchange scents, which is a sign of comfort and familiarity.

When they’re not sleeping and/or snuggling, they may simply sit or stand near each other and touch tails; intertwining tails may also be another method of exchanging scents. They may also groom each other, which is a sign of feline love and affection.

Bonded pairs are also each other’s primary playmates. They will play (and play fight) together, often with a good understanding of their furry counterpart’s limits, this means that your hands, ankles or feet will not become targets of play fighting since they have learned the limits of their strength while wrestling with their playmate; your two kitties will have each other to chase and “hunt” in order to satisfy their instinctual prey drive [play = prey].

When separated, you may notice your cats calling out to each other to find each other. If one cat is away (at the vet, for example), you may notice excess vocalizing and distress in the kitty who’s left behind while she searches for her pal.

What Happens when a Bonded Pair is Separated?

Your bonded cats are soulmates who should absolutely not be separated, as this can be a deeply traumatic experience they may never recover from. There’s a reason we identify bonded pairs and don’t allow them to go to different homes.

Unfortunately, sometimes separation is inevitable. If one cat gets lost or passes away, remember that it’s just as heartbreaking for the other cat as it is for you. Keep an eye out for signs of depression such as: loss of appetite, lethargy, or reclusiveness. It’s important to work through the grieving process together, giving your cat extra attention to help her or him cope with the loss.


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