Single Kitten Syndrome [SKS]
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
If you’ve ever raised a litter of kittens or adopted a pair of them, you know how playful they are with each other. Some of this play is painful, as confirmed by the yowling and complaining that occurs. They are learning that this rough play is not the best way to make friends. The kittens bite and scratch each other, sometimes quite hard. All the while they are learning from one another that this behavior is not the best way to make friends! If they’re lucky enough to have a momma-cat around and she hears the ruckus, she will often give a warning “that’s enough of that” to the kittens and they settle down.
In order to become well-socialized cats, kittens need to learn appropriate behavior from each other. A human is not a substitute for a feline companion.
You can provide attention, interactive play and love but there is no way you can replicate the play behavior of the species regardless of how hard you try. If they don’t learn limits in their play as youngsters, they often develop inappropriate playful aggression. In other words, it may be cute when a kitten attacks your ankles when you walk by or playfully nips at your fingers while you’re playing. It will be much less cute, not to mention annoying and painful, when your cat is fully grown and capable of doing more damage.
Over 50% of adopters who contact Cat Behaviorists are adopters having trouble with single kitten behaviors. We are NOT trying to push more kittens out the door. We want to prepare you for behaviors you will almost certainly see and have only the kittens’ best interest at heart, and your satisfaction as a pet parent.
Many single kittens are returned because of play biting that’s gotten out of control. Cat behaviorists believe that cats raised without feline companionship transfer their instinctive playful biting behavior onto humans. In addition to teaching each other to inhibit predatory energy, litter box habits are established at a young age and kittens show each other how to go to the right place when nature calls. Watching kittens play together is extremely entertaining. Cats raised together also provide each other with company when their humans aren’t home. especially if they are a Bonded Pair. Alternatively, a lonely or bored cat can become anxious and destructive.
If you feel you are unable to care for two kittens, we encourage you to consider one of our wonderful adult cats instead. Many of these are scarcely more than kittens themselves. They’re still playful and friendly and most have learned good manners from being around other cats in their youth. The difference between a kitten and a cat is only 6 months. A happy cat can bring you joy and companionship for twenty years so it’s well worth setting them up for success in their early months.