Doesn’t it sound terrible? “Only-Kitten Syndrome” can be terrible indeed! It’s not a scientific condition, but it is very real. Kittens are almost always born in a litter with multiple siblings, and along with their mom cat’s nursing and other care, the kitty pack plays an important role in kitten social development. But sometimes, a lone kitten is left on his or her own, either lost or otherwise unfortunately separated. The most common age you’ll see single kittens up for adoption in rescues and shelters starts around 6 weeks old. Generally before that age, they are not up for adoption yet. Single kittens can be found all the way up to kitty adolescence, which is around 10 months old. (At that point, they become Only Kitty Teenagers, and there isn’t a silly-sounding syndrome name for those only kitties.) The good news is, Only-Kitten Syndrome (OKS) is easy to cure! We’ll explain how below. The sad news is, some people aren’t aware that there even is an OKS, much less what are the symptoms, or what to do. Not all only kittens get OKS. But if you know of someone who is about to adopt or already has a single kitten, you can help! Share this article with them, and you may help prevent not only one case of Only-Kitten Syndrome, but two! Read on to find out how.
Symptoms of OKS include:
- Excessive neediness towards humans
- Meowing constantly and plantively
- Obsessively suckling on your clothing, your hair, your other pets
- Biting you when you try to walk away
- Destructive behavior like chewing wires, eating paint off surfaces that smell like humans (doorways, cabinets)
- Urinating or defecating going to the bathroom outside the litterbox, often on the human’s bed, pillow, couch or in their shoes
Ways to cure or prevent OKS include:
- Two is better than one! Adopt a kitten playmate. Best chance of a good match is as close in age/size/energy-level as possible, and some cat experts say opposite sex too. This is often the easiest instant fix, especially for younger kittens!
- Become the playmate your kitten needs and desires. Flood the kitten with interactive toys (ones that you interact with them with), kitten-size stuffed animals that you animate to wrestle with, chase by dragging the toy across the floor on a string, play hide and go seek games with paper bags and carboard boxes with paw-size holes cut out. At least three times a day, play with the kitten until he or she is so tired she doesn’t want to play any more. That’s what a kitten friend would do!
- Give them a warm secure cuddling place to sleep. A covered heated cat-bed (kitty safe, not a human heating pad those get too hot) on your bed if possible, or on a chair right next to your bed, with their surrogate kitten or mom cat size stuffed animal toy for company.
- As your kitten grows up, provide plenty of environmental enrichment. Give kitten a secure “room with a view” with a cat tree or sofa back up against a window with a view of trees and birds, or with a bird feeder outside. Move your furniture around. Buy new tall climbing things. Bring home new places to hide like big cardboard boxes or even new smelling paper shopping bags (handles safely cut off).
We hope this information helps you with your only kitten!