is it okay to keep two kittens together during "extended" socialization?
July 15, 2011 5:29 PM Subscribe
will keeping siblings from the same litter together past the initial socialization be detrimental to their full socialization?
posted by joeblough to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
most of the stuff on the internet dealing with socializing kittens seems to focus on the initial socialization - getting them to trust humans, not hiss at humans, etc. this question is more about "extended" socialization, meaning past the point where they are no longer terrified of people.
we recently adopted two feral kittens from the same litter, one boy and one girl. they were caught when they were perhaps 7 weeks old and have been in captivity for about 4 weeks. they were socialized by a neighbor. we've had the first cat for about 7 days and the 2nd kitten for about 4 days. both have been to the vet for shots and deworm/de-flea, but they have not yet been fixed.
in isolation, neither kitten is afraid of humans. each will sit in your lap and purr when being pet, and i've even managed to trim their nails. the female kitten even slept in our bed a couple of nights. they eat their meals sitting in our laps while we hold the bowls. individually they are really great cats and i'd have no concerns if we had just one of them.
however, when we put them together, their behavior changes radically. they play fight constantly, but they do eventually settle down. when they stop fighting, they will roam around but if either sees a human, they run and hide under the bed.
accordingly, they will both scurry if we try to pick either of them up. the only way to grab one of them is to distract them with a cat toy and grab them after they have pounced. if i manage to pick one of them up and start petting them, they just try to get away as hard as they can, and never start purring, apparently distracted by the other kitten's presence and activity. they never yowl or scratch or bite in this state, but they flip around and try to wriggle out of my arms just short of violence.
almost immediately after separating them - one in the hallway bathroom and one in the bedroom, behind closed doors, they go back to being "people" cats. that is, after they make loud, sad mewing noises for a while. at this point the female kitten will sit on our bed and if we approach it, it does not run or cower. meanwhile, in the bathroom, the male kitten will sit on the pillow we put next to the toilet and respond to petting and even climb up into my lap.
my question is - are we undoing all their socialization by letting them be together? i'm a little worried about how 'feral' (to a degree) they seem when they are together. or is this just "kitten mode", and they will grow out of it? we want to return the hallway bathroom to regular service, but if it's important to keep the cats apart, we will have to think of something - guests are coming soon and they'll need that bathroom.
i want to do the right thing to make sure the cats are well socialized in the long run. if keeping them together is a bad idea, i need to find out sooner than later :)
or, am i overthinking a plate of cat food? thanks everyone.