Cats are not social animals like dogs. When left to their own devices, most cats will not develop close relationships with other cats. Cats do not socialize in packs or live in family groups (usually). Therefore, there is no problem having only one cat. Some daily human interaction is all your feline typically needs. Beyond that, most cats don’t mind living without a companion.
However, you should ensure that your feline gets enough enrichment—especially if they are alone for much of the day. There are many ways to enrich your feline, though, beyond adopting another cat. Toys and climbing structures are a good place to start.
Furthermore, if you do adopt another cat, there is nothing ensuring that both cats will get along. In fact, a new kitten may only bring stress and anxiety to your older cat—not enrichment. Therefore, we do not recommend ever adopting another cat solely for it to be a companion to your older cat. There is no guarantee that your cats will get along.
A happy but alone cat is much better off than a feline who’s fearful of its companion.
Do Cats Get Lonely?
Some cats do get lonely, especially if they belong to a more social breed. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your feline will get enough attention before adopting a cat. If you have long work hours, your feline may not get the attention it deserves.
A feline without the proper amount of attention can become bored or even destructive. Often, cats will look for their own enrichment when they are lonely. Sometimes, this can mean tearing things up or even marking areas with urine. Providing your cat with plenty of attention isn’t just necessary to keep your cat happy. It’s also needed to ensure that your cat remains well-behaved.
However, keep in mind that cats aren’t necessarily able to stand in as humans when it comes to interactions. If you decide to adopt an affectionate and people-oriented cat breed, adopting another cat with them won’t necessarily meet your cat’s social needs. These cats are bred to be people-oriented and need socialization with people. Therefore, don’t adopt another cat thinking that it will keep your current cat happy.
How to Tell if a Cat is Lonely?
There are many ways to tell if your cat is lonely. However, many of these signs may also indicate that your feline has separation anxiety. If your cat starts acting up as soon as you leave, then you’re liking looking at separation anxiety—not simple loneliness. Separation anxiety won’t go away by adopting another cat (usually). Therefore, it needs to be trained away.
Medication for separation anxiety is helpful in many cases. However, this is only a band-aid that can be used while training is occurring. It isn’t a silver bullet, as this sort of medication can have side effects. You don’t want to use it for an extended period if you can help it.
If your cat displays any of these, there is likely something strange going on. Two or more may make a good case for loneliness or separation anxiety. However, some can also indicate other conditions. For instance, many cats go through a period of inappropriate marking and destructive behavior around puberty. Poor eating can be a sign of a gastrointestinal problem, and excessive grooming can be anxiety-related.
Breeds Prone to Separation Anxiety and Loneliness
Some cat breeds are specifically bred for their people-oriented nature. However, this people-oriented nature can take a turn for the worse if the cat is often left home alone. For instance, Siamese and Burmese are often prone to being co-dependent. In other words, they become a bit too attached and then anxious when their human leaves. For this reason, we don’t recommend adopting these cats if you aren’t home for much of the time.
Furthermore, these cats often need to be taught to be alone starting at a young age. You may want to practice separating the cat from humans starting when they are a kitten. Therefore, the cat will grow up understanding that being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, having other cats won’t necessarily prevent any of these behaviors. Many cats won’t get along or bond closely enough to relieve any anxiety. Furthermore, these cats are people-oriented. Relationships with other cats won’t replace their relationship with a person.
Cats are perfectly fine without a companion. They aren’t pack-oriented like dogs. (Plus, many dogs are perfectly fine without a companion, too.) We do not recommend adopting a new cat just so your current one will have a friend. There is nothing to ensure that the two cats will be friends, and a relationship with a cat won’t replace a cat’s relationship with their owner. Therefore, having a second cat won’t necessarily keep either cat from missing you.
Separation anxiety is sometimes lessened by having another cat. However, again, there is nothing to ensure that this happens. In many cases, a cat’s anxiety may simply increase with another cat around. (And, then, you’ll just have two cats to pay attention to.)
Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock