Many people incorrectly assume that cats are absolute solitary creatures. We can’t help but think that cats are at fault for this reputation.
After all, they love to hide away, and any interaction with their owner is going to be on their terms.
However, cats do get lonely, particularly if they are quite close to their owner. The tricky part is spotting exactly when the cat is feeling a bit isolated.
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Do cats get lonely?
Despite giving the illusion of independence, cats are going to be quite social creatures. They love to have a bit of human company.
It keeps them nice and stimulated. Of course, they probably love all the cuddles that you are willing to throw in their direction too!
Even if your cat darts off under the bed every time you enter the room, or they are not fans of being petted, they do get lonely.
They love the stability of having you around. They draw comfort from it. When you are not there, it isn’t really good for the cat.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Not all cats seem to get lonely. Some seem to be a bit more likely to suffer from separation anxiety than others.
However, we are positive that your cat misses you to some extent when you are not around.
Do cats need another cat to avoid being lonely?
Cats can get all of the social interaction that they need from their owners.
In fact, since cats are territorial creatures, they probably wouldn’t want another cat introduced to the household in the first place.
They aren’t fans of other cats cozying up to their owner or their territory.
Cats will get along with other cats. It may even help with the loneliness problem if you are going to be leaving your cat alone for long periods of time. However, to really make it work, you should be introducing the cats to each other at a young age.
If an adult cat has another adult cat enter its turf, then the cats are more likely to fight than offer any sort of positive social interaction.
Also read: Why are people allergic to cats?
How do you know if your cat is suffering from loneliness?
Honestly, it is pretty hard to tell when a cat is lonely. Unlike dogs, they do not make it immediately obvious.
It is a bit annoying because, if they did, you would probably want to help them deal with it! That being said, there are a few symptoms that you can keep an eye out for.
Peeing Where They Shouldn’t
For example, have you ever come home to find that your cat has peed all over your favorite clothes? Congratulations!
You have a cat that is probably dealing with social anxiety.
They just wanted to share their scent with your scent.
Or, at the very least, they thought that peeing all over your clothes would be a great way to get you to come back. It is irritating, yes. However, it is the biggest telltale sign that your cat is dealing with loneliness.
Don’t think they are just going to be defecating all over your clothes either. Cats that are lonely skip out on the litter box. Instead, the whole house becomes their bathroom.
Anywhere they can pee or poop, that cat is going to be there. Do bear in mind that this is a symptom that may indicate more serious conditions than loneliness.
You may want to take them to a vet to have them checked out.
We aren’t done with the bodily fluids yet, though. Oh no. Lonely cats vomit. We are not quite sure why. it may be attention-seeking.
It may be because they got so stressed out they felt like they had to vomit. However, they will vomit when they start to become very lonely. Again, this is a symptom that may indicate other conditions too.
Not Eating As Much
You may notice that your cat doesn’t eat as much when you are not around too. For example, some owners of lonely cats can be gone for hours, come home, and the cat wouldn’t have touched their food.
The second the cat sees them is when they start to feast. Often, they will end up eating a touch too fast which, of course, will lead to vomiting. Yes. Cats love to vomit.
When you are at home with your cat, you will notice that they start to become incredibly clingy. They will want to spend every single moment around you.
They will jump on you. Lick you with that hideously coarse tongue. Basically, they will do everything that they can to get close to you.
If they can’t get close to you, then the cat will try to get your attention in other ways. Most of this is going to be through incredibly loud and repetitive meowing. They just want your attention. They are lonely, after all.
Another sign that your cat is lonely is that they will start to lick themselves a lot.
In fact, they may groom themselves to the point where fur starts to fall off in certain areas.
Finally, some lonely cats start to isolate themselves.
Yep. This is why trying to work out whether you have a lonely cat is confusing. You wouldn’t think that a cat suffering from separation anxiety would do this, but they do. The cat will start to become more withdrawn.
They may hide in small spaces around your home. They may not want you to touch them.
We assume that this is because the cat really wants to try and be a bit more independent, or maybe they are just annoyed with you.
Also read: How smart are cats?
How can you prevent your cat from being lonely?
Spend some time with them! We know it may seem like the obvious answer, but it is true!
In comparison to dogs, cats can spend a decent amount of time on their own alone. As long as they have food, water, and a litterbox within reach then they are going to be fine.
They won’t be too fussed if you are going for long periods of time (unless it happens often). In fact, you will be surprised at how long cats can be left alone.
A kitten, for example, can be left alone for almost 8-hours (unless they are just a few weeks old), and an adult cat around 24-hours.
Separation anxiety doesn’t really start to kick in unless there is some sort of trigger for it in the first place. For example:
- If your cat is sick
- If you spend a LOT of time playing with your cat when you are with them
- You have certain breeds like Siamese cats
The preferable option would be to not leave them alone in the first place. However, we all know that this isn’t going to happen.
Thankfully, there are a few techniques that you can use.
Perhaps the simplest method is to ensure that your cat never really has time to miss you.
If you make sure that your cat has a lot of mental stimulation, then they will be fine. This means:
We suggest that you also spend a bit of time playing with your cat before you leave. In fact, you should play with them throughout the day, just don’t go overboard.
You can train your cat a little bit here. If your cat starts to play on its own, then give them a treat. This will be teaching your cat that it is fine to play without you for a while.
If your cat does seem to be incredibly clingy, then don’t entertain it. Just ignore them. They will eventually learn not to be so clingy.
In the vast majority of cases, providing the cats with a bit of mental stimulation would be more than enough to deal with the loneliness issues. However, some people may also want to use exposure therapy.
This is where you leave your cat alone for gradually increasing periods of time. This way they can get used to you not being around without you overloading them.
If you still can’t deal with the loneliness, then this may be a job for your vet. It could mean that there is an underlying condition that needs to be treated.
The vet may also be able to prescribe some medication that will help your cat to feel a little bit calmer when you are leaving them alone for a long time.
Cats do get lonely.
While they tend to deal with loneliness a little bit better than dogs, it is a very real problem for many cats. If you do spot that your cat is dealing with the symptoms of loneliness, then you should try to deal with it as soon as possible.
The longer you let it go on, the more likely the issue is to spiral out of control.
At that point, it becomes almost impossible to get your cat feeling secure when they are home alone for long stretches of time.