Last Updated: 1 month ago

Single Kitten Syndrome (also called Single Cat Syndrome) is a hot-button issue among feline owners.

If you’ve been considering adopting a cat, you’ve probably come across the term already.

While Single Kitten Syndrome isn’t actually recognized as a symptom in the scientific or medical community, it is an anecdotal grouping of behaviors that can occur in kittens that are the only cats in the house. 

Below, we’ll discuss what it is and whether it’s even a real thing. We’ll also talk about some tips for treating it, if necessary. 

What is Single Kitten Syndrome?

is single cat syndrome a real thing?

Before we get into whether or not Single Kitten Syndrome is real, let’s talk about what it means when people refer to it.

Whether or not it’s a true syndrome, the symptoms and behaviors associated with this relatively newly coined phrase are real. 

Single Kitten Syndrome is the name for a collection of behaviors that many have associated with cats living in a one-cat household.

We’ll be talking about these behaviors below, but what this syndrome boils down to is essentially a lack of proper socialization.

Cats learn to be cats both instinctively and from one another. At just a couple of weeks old, kittens are already roughhousing, biting, scratching, and clawing. 

In addition to playfighting, kittens learn other cat things from the other cats and kittens in their group, like how to litter train a cat and how to interact with other cats.

Kittens adopted into a home with no other cats, single kitten syndrome proponents say, will eventually begin to show inappropriate behaviors as adults because they have not learned how to properly be cats.

Symptoms of Single Kitten Syndrome

The symptoms of Single Kitten Syndrome are easy to spot.

In general, the symptoms are all extensions of the same two issues: attention-seeking and boredom. 

  • Destructiveness
  • Pestering Other Pets
  • Picky Eating
  • Keeping Owners Up at Night
  • Excessive Vocalizing
  • Inappropriate Elimination
  • Biting
  • Excessive Energy
  • Scratching
  • Anxiousness

Is Single Kitten Syndrome Real?

Single kitten syndrome- is it real? How do you treat it?>

Is it real? Well, sort of.

As stated above, kittens learn how to be cats from other cats

Without being part of a feline group, some kittens can end up exhibiting the behaviors I just listed.

However, not all kittens will grow up to be ill-behaved.

It all depends on their inborn personality and how much attention they get at home. 

Is It Cruel to Have Only One Cat?

No, it’s not cruel to adopt one kitten.

However, it requires much more work on your part to ensure that your kitten gets the attention she needs in order to grow up to be a well-adjusted cat.

Kittens are little bundles of energy. They love to play, and they are constantly looking for physical and mental stimulation.

If you adopt one kitten, you’ll need to be prepared to put in lots and lots of time. Lots of playtime and tons of socialization are the two keys to raising a well-adjusted cat. 

Think of raising a kitten like raising a puppy. Introduce her to all kinds of stimuli. Get a leash and harness, and start taking her for walks—yes, you can walk a cat.

Introduce her to other cats, dogs, rodent pets like hamsters and gerbils, other people, and anything else you can think of. Expose your kitten to all types of sounds, from loud to soft.

Prepare her for the big, big world. The biggest mistake new kitten owners make is treating their kittens like cats. 

How to Prevent Single Kitten Syndrome

Looking for the best ways to train a kitten not to bite? We’ve got you covered! Read on for 8 simple yet proven strategies!

The best way to fix single kitten syndrome is to prevent it altogether.

However, the good news is that fixing the issue is essentially the same as preventing it in the first place.

All of the tips below can be used proactively to prevent single cat syndrome and they can be used to fix the issue.

Adopt Two Kittens

We’ll talk about this in a second, but adopting two kittens is actually one of the best ways to prevent the syndrome, and bonus: it’s actually less work. 

Adopt a Second Kitten or Cat

If you didn’t initially adopt two kittens and your kitten or cat has begun to show exciting signs of single cat syndrome, adopt a second kitten of approximately the same age.

Some people recommend getting a cat of the opposite sex.

Remember to spay and neuter, or you’ll end up with more kittens than you bargained for down the line. 

Be Your Kitten’s Playmate

If you have one kitten, you’ll have to be the primary playmate.

Get tons of interactive toys, like feathers on sticks and other toys that allow you to interact with your kitten.

Kitten-sized plushies are great, too, because you can “fight” with your kitten by using the stuffed animals.

Play hide-and-seek and pounce games with paper bags, towels, and cardboard boxes with holes cut into them.

Tire your kitten out at least three times a day, playing with her until she decides she’s had enough. 

A Cuddly Sleeping Spot

Give your kitten a cuddly sleeping spot that is safe, warm, and soft.

Your bed is an awesome sleeping spot for your cat, provided you aren’t allergic and you don’t care about hair in your bed.

Outside of that, a cozy kitten igloo on your bed or beside your bed is an excellent choice.

Provide a cat-sized stuffed toy for her to sleep with as well. 

Environmental Enrichment

Kittens, and even adult cats, need a lot of environmental enrichment.

If you have a nice, big window, place a cat tree next to it and place a bird feeder outside the window.

It’s instant “Kitty TV!”

In addition, bring home all kinds of new places to play and hide, like cardboard boxes, shopping bags, and other containers that your kitty can hide and play in.

Keep a ton of toys on hand so you can rotate them out, keeping your kitty from growing bored. 

One Kitten vs. Two Kittens

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Now we come back to the idea of raising one kitten vs. raising two kittens. Which is probably why you initially tried to figure out what single kitten syndrome is. Here’s the good news:

If you really want to ensure that your kitten doesn’t develop the bad habits that fall under this syndrome’s umbrella, the easiest way to do that is to simply adopt two kittens.

Why would you want to adopt two? Well, outside of doing away with single kitten syndrome altogether, it’s actually easier to raise two kittens.

Yep. It’s easier. Unlike puppies, kittens are actually less work when they’re paired up. Refer to the list of tips on how to prevent this syndrome above.

If you read through them all, you’ll see that raising one kitten requires a lot of your time. It requires even more time than raising a puppy because puppies tend to sleep a lot.

Kittens? Well, kittens are sort of like the Tazmanian Devil in Looney Toons. When you adopt one kitten, you must be its primary playmate, stimulation provider, and everything else.

However, when you have two kittens, they can be each other’s buddies. In addition, they are actually easier to train to the litter box, as well.

While kittens are naturally drawn to a litter box, having a buddy helps them remember where to go do their business.

With two kittens, your two little furry family members can tire themselves out together, leaving you the ability to go to work or go out guilt-free, then come back home and give both your kittens tons of cuddles and love.

The entire time, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that your cats are keeping each other company, never sad, and never lonely.

It’s a win all the way around. Lastly, buying supplies for two kittens really isn’t much more expensive than buying supplies for one kitten.

In fact, it might actually be less when you consider the number of toys you’ll need to buy for your kitten if she’s the only cat in the home.

Kittens and cats don’t need a lot of toys when they have each other to wrestle with.

Dogs do fine on their own, so why don’t cats?

Single Kitten Syndrome, aka Single Cat Syndrome may not be recognized, but the symptoms are very real. Learn why & how to treat it!

At this point, you might be wondering how this can be true.

After all, dogs in a single-dog house tend to be well-adjusted, by and large. However, consider the contrast between cat and dog life.

Even a dog who is the king of his castle will be taken on walks where he’ll meet new people and other dogs.

He’ll often be taken to dog parks. He’ll go to the vet wearing a harness or collar and not in a carrier. Dogs are incredibly easy to socialize with simply due to their day-to-day activities. 

Comparatively, cats are mainly indoor creatures who never go outside, never see other cats or animals, and rarely interact with anything outside of their own home environment. 

Single Cat Syndrome Example

Many shelters actually have people adopting only one kitten sign a waiver stating that they recognize that this syndrome could become an issue if they only adopt one kitten and not a pair.

But is single kitten syndrome real, or is it simply a way for shelters to adopt out more cats?

There are varying ideas on the subject, and today we’re going to talk about it, if it’s even real, and how to treat it if your kitten exhibits this syndrome’s symptoms. 

In my view, this is an extremely important topic because when the subject of this syndrome is broached, it can cause people who aren’t ready to take on two cats to simply not adopt at all.

For example, one cat owner and his wife were considering adopting a cat, but their local adoption agency told them they had to sign a waiver about the syndrome.

He wrote, 

According to the staff, kittens who don’t have another kitten to play with develop a slew of bad behaviors (aggression, destructiveness, etc.) that they may never grow out of. I have never heard of this and it sounded like something someone made up to push more kittens out of the door.

He and his wife weren’t certain that they could handle the work of two cats, and now they’re reconsidering adopting a cat.

Education leads to the ability to make the best decisions, so let’s get into it.


Preventing single kitten syndrome is easy. Although it’s not a recognized condition, the behaviors that go along with single kitten syndrome are very real.

Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent the issue. Just adopt two kittens.

It’s actually less work than owning one kitten, and there’s really nothing more fun than watching two kittens play with one another.

That’s why so many people watch cat videos! 


Single Kitten Syndrome, aka Single Cat Syndrome may not be recognized, but the symptoms are very real. Learn why & how to treat it!
Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts

Ben is an animal lover, blogger, and all around geek. He divides his love equally between his family, his animals, and his video games. In his spare time he is attempting to get a blog off the ground. Boy, are they heavy!