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Cat Adoption: What to Know About Bonded Pairs

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If you’re browsing pet shelters with plans to bring home a furry feline friend, chances are you’ve come across the occasional bonded pair: two cats seeking a forever home together as a dynamic duo. 

While double the cats may seem like double the work, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, there are several benefits to bringing home a bonded pair of cats. If you’re on the fence about whether to adopt a bonded pair or stick with a solo, read on to see if bringing home bonded cats is right for you.

What is a Bonded Pair? 

While cats may give off the impression of being independent, antisocial creatures, this isn’t quite true. Cats are instinctively social creatures, no matter how aloof they seem—and some are more social than others. Specifically, a bonded pair consists of two cats who have formed a deep, special connection, and are essentially best furry friends for life! 

Bonded cat pairs are commonly litter mates, but they don’t necessarily need to be related in order to form a strong bond. Perhaps they were introduced to each other at a young age, or spent a significant amount of time together growing up. 

While it’s not as common, it’s also possible for two adult cats to become bonded while living together, even if the second cat was brought home at a different time than the first. However, simply living together isn’t the same as being a bonded pair. 

How to Tell if Cats are Bonded

While they still have 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 love and affection in addition to simply being efficient! 

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. 

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. 

Pros and Cons of Bonded Pairs

Some may find double the cats to be double the fun, while others may find it to be double the work. Taking home two kitties at once may or may not be the right choice for someone looking to adopt for the first time, so take some time to research the pros and cons of bonded pairs before making a decision. 


With a bonded pair, your cats each get a built-in playmate. Instead of wondering whether your pets will get along, you already know that you have a bonded pair of best friends. 

Having a built-in playmate is beneficial for two reasons: socialization and exercise. In addition to being relatively well-adjusted if you happen to bring home another pet down the road, your two kitties will have each other to chase and “hunt” in order to satisfy their prey drive. Not only does this give them opportunities to run around, it prevents unwanted destruction around the house from a stir-crazy cat. 

With the constant companionship, bonded pairs tend to experience less separation anxiety when you leave for the day. Because they have each other, your kitties won’t need to rely as heavily on human interaction. Plus, they’ll have the comfort of each other during any potentially stressful transitions, such as moving from a shelter or foster home to their new forever home. 

Of course, there’s also the benefit of giving two cats a comfortable home. You can get double the love without necessarily having to double the effort. After all, if you’re already prepared with toys, food, and a litter box… what’s one more cat? 


Because many potential owners only want one cat, bonded pairs are susceptible to longer shelter stays as they wait for the right person to bring them home. 

Some pet owners worry about the additional expenses, such as pet insurance and vet visits, not to mention extra toys, food, and supplies. However, if your cats share a strong enough bond, they likely won’t mind sharing toys, food, and a litter box, either.  

That being said, keep in mind that there may be unique issues, such as only one of the cats having food allergies or being especially picky about their food and litter. 

Additionally, in the event of separation—even if temporary—both cats will feel anxious until reunited. 

What Happens when a Bonded Pair is Separated? 

Think of your bonded cats as soulmates who should absolutely not be separated, as this can be a deeply traumatic experience. There’s a reason shelters 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, reclusiveness, or excessive clinginess. It’s important to work through the grieving process together, giving your cat extra attention to help her cope with the loss. 

Of course, we want all of our cats to live happy, healthy, full lives. Promote your cats’ health with Pet Honesty’s Digestive Probiotics+ Powder for Cats, which uses a blend of natural ingredients to support healthy digestion and immune response.