Is Your Cat Lonely?

portrait of a cat that looks out of the windowCats are independent creatures, but this doesn’t mean that they want to be alone. Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals. Despite their sometimes solitary nature, at the end of the day, cats prefer company and loneliness can really affect a stifled indoor cat. Many cat owners worry that their furry friends feel lonely when they leave the house. You may have heard the “I’m lonely” yowl from your pet right after you close the door.

Certain behaviors can signal that your cat feels lonely. There are many ways to combat feline loneliness, from adjusting kitty’s surroundings, to new toys, to adopting a second pet. We’ve got your complete guide right here to the warning signs of a lonely cat, and lots of solutions so that you and your kitty can once again live in happy harmony.

There are some warning signs to pay attention to that could indicate that your cat is lonely. If any of the following symptoms are common with your feline, they may be lonely.

Incessant meowing when you return: If you get home from a long day and your kitty never seems to leave you alone, complete with outrageous meowing, they may have been very lonely while you were gone. If your cat seems overly-affectionate and you’re sure it’s not because of another reason, such as going through heat, they may have spent all day feeling lonely. Your needy cat will follow you around, constantly rubbing on you and begging for your attention.

Waits until you get home to eat: If your kitty hasn’t touched their food bowl all day until the moment you return, they may have been feeling too stressed out all day to get a good meal in. A good indicator of this symptom would be if once you get home, they start eating like they haven’t had a meal in weeks.

Tons of hairballs: It is normal for a cat to have a hairball here and there. Hairballs are a normal and natural part of what comes with your cat grooming himself, although they aren’t particularly pleasant for anyone involved. The best way to prevent too many hairballs is by regular brushing. However, if you are coming home to a hairball on a regular basis, this may have something to do with your cat feeling lonely. A bored and lonely cat may resort to obsessive grooming while you’re away in order to compensate for lack of stimulation/company.

Unusual destructive behavior: If you come home and notice that Fluffy has been tearing up the house, they may be lonely and bored all day. It is pretty normal for your cat to make little moves while you’re out, such as bringing toys around the house, or making a comfortable nesting spot. However, if you’re coming home to torn-up pillows, destroyed plants, shredded posters, or any other randomly destructed household objects, your cat may have developed some neurotic tendencies that they act on when you’re away.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between your cat feeling lonely after you’ve gone on a long trip and they’ve only been visited by the cat-sitter, and them feeling lonely on a daily basis due to your work schedule or just the simple fact that they are socially-motivated. Some cats are loners and won’t require attention for their loneliness, but if you have a social cat, you’ll want to do everything that you can to ensure that they feel safe and accompanied. There is nothing wrong with having an indoor cat, as long as they are properly stimulated in accordance with their personality.

Here are some great ways to combat feline loneliness. Remember that each option isn’t right for every cat, so you may have to try more than one to address the problem properly.

Make sure that kitty can look out the window: A simple way to heighten stimulation for your kitty while you’re away is by making sure that they have a window to look out of. Especially if you are in a busy city, your cat will love looking out the window at birds, cars, and people. If you don’t have a good windowsill dedicated to kitty, you may want to purchase a stoop or a kitty palace for them to perch on while you’re away.

Purchase a bird-feeder in sight: Birds are one of kitty’s favorite things to enjoy, and you can easily purchase a bird-feeder to attach right to their viewing window. Make sure that the feeder is in a safe place and that your windows are closed so that your cat doesn’t accidentally claw through the screen and end up getting hurt. Bird feeders will bring the birds right to your cat, and can provide lots of entertainment while you’re away.

Kitten playing with chew toy around houseProvide stimulating toys: There are many options for toys that will keep kitty engaged while you’re out. You can get toys that are electronic that will go off randomly throughout the day, or toys that provide simple stimulation when your kitty wants it. When cats play on their own as they tend to do, toys can get stuck or lost around the house. If you provide your pet with a simple interactive toy, they can get their play out at their leisure. You’ll want to have a toy in each room for your kitty to be entertained by, whether it’s an interactive toy or their favorite stuffed animal.

Rotate your toys: After a while, kitty may get bored with the same toy each day. You can easily rotate between 2-3 stimulating toys to keep your cat happy. Whether that’s a catnip scratching pad, a chasing toy, or an electronic mouse, your cat will appreciate the variety that you’ve provided for them and can be entertained for months to come.

Introduce a food-dispensing toy: If your cat is food-motivated and you’re worried about their boredom, you may want to purchase a food-dispensing toy. These types of toys make it a game for kitty to receive treats and meals. Many of these types of toys are rotund, forcing kitty to bat the toy around until a bit of food comes out. This can help with a chubby kitty, as it will force them to be more active to receive meals, as well as helping them with boredom.

Hire someone to stop by: If your job forces you to be away from home for long hours, you may want to see if you could have a neighbor or pet-sitter stop by a few days a week just to give kitty some love. This may sound extreme, but many people do it. Our cats are our fur-babies, and simply giving kitty 20 minutes of companionship in the middle of the day could prevent them from getting separation anxiety.

Friendly dog and cat resting over green grass backgroundGet another pet: This suggestion seems to be the one that comes to mind immediately for many people. However, this isn’t a short-term solution, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Introducing a new pet into your home takes time, dedication, and patience. Whether you’re thinking about bringing in a new cat or dog, you’ll want to truly consider the responsibility that comes along with a second pet. Many cats are socially prone to humans over other animals, and bringing in a second pet could actually cause even more stress to your lonely kitty.

A great way to test out whether or not your cat would enjoy an animal companion is by fostering before adoption. This basically gives you a test-run of how your household would work with a new pet in the mix. Many cats have a hard time bonding with cats that weren’t their litter-mates, and have an even harder time getting comfortable with a dog. Not to mention the fact that if your problem is “not enough time at home,” a dog is a huge time-commitment and may require you to hire help in that case.

If your cat consistently shows symptoms of loneliness, you can easily combat the hard times by trying out our many solutions. If one solution doesn’t seem to be working, don’t be afraid to try something else, or a combination of a few. You’ll notice that your cat is less clingy and moody when you get home if your anti-loneliness solutions have been working. If you are still having problems, you may want to contact your veterinarian to see if they have any other suggestions.