Q: To my sorrow, I recently had to say goodbye to a cat I adopted nearly 20 years ago, the last of two littermates. I would like to adopt two cats again, but this time a kitten and an adult cat. What is likely to result in an easier adjustment: Adopting a kitten first or an adult cat? How much time should I allow between adoptions, or is it OK to adopt at the same time?

A: Since cats are generally slower to adapt to new surroundings than kittens are, the best way to go, in theory, is to adopt a cat first, then a kitten, or both at once. Both at once, in fact, may be easiest on both cats, since neither will be feeling as if there's an interloper on its turf, and your home will be new territory for each of them. In practice, the order and timing depends on the pets themselves. In a well-managed, progressive shelter, you'll find help from staff and volunteers who can advise you on the personalities of potential pets, and the possibilities of pairings.

Your home setup will help with adjustments. Many cats need to be fed away from each other, and some won't share water bowls or feline drinking fountains. As for litter boxes, behaviorists typically recommend one box for each cat, plus one additional box. These guidelines will help the cats share space, and help prevent litter-box avoidance, which is by far the top behavior complaint of cat owners.