Can Cats Get Lonely? The Answer Might Surprise You
While many cat lovers also an affinity for most other animals, cats are preferable for their independent nature. They are easier to take care of since they seem to require less attention and time. This is true to an extent, but not as much as you might think.
Believe it or not, cats prefer socializing more than eating! Even though we often see them as being aloof and unemotional, cats develop close bonds with their owners. They might not always want to be right on top of you, but appreciate your presence. Combine this strong bond with a lack of social stimulation and you’re likely to see separation anxiety develop.
Separation Anxiety in Cats
Although we’re more familiar with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, cats experience it too. Any independent, healthy, emotionally stable individual is capable of dealing with a lot – human or feline. No matter how strong, we all require social interaction to maintain mental and emotional health. Can cats get lonely? Yes, and when they do, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms:
- Refusing to eat/drink while home alone
- Excessive self-grooming
- Excessively vocal
- Destructive behaviors (clawing furniture, knocking over trash cans, etc.)
- Sensitive to noise
Does any of this sound familiar? Without understanding what they mean, the symptoms of separation anxiety can be annoying. However, it’s something that should not be taken lightly. With a little effort on your end, your cat’s anxiety and loneliness can be greatly inhibited.
What to Do for your Lonely Cat
Before taking any other measures, make an appointment with the vet. By having a check-up, you can determine if their symptoms are not due to a more serious medical issue. While you’re there, talk to the vet about your cat’s behavior and ask for tips and suggestions.
They might recommend products such as pheromone sprays, “stress relieving” treats, and calming coats to relive separation anxiety. Although they might prove to be somewhat effective, it’s best to approach the situation organically. Here’s a few things you can try:
- Adopt a Second Cat
Can cats get lonely without another pet around? As much as your cat may love you, they still appreciate similar company. When cats are in pairs or groups, they are more physically and mentally active. Put yourself in their shoes (or paws, for that matter). No matter how much you adore your pets, you’ll still occasionally crave human company. Simply, there are species-specific dynamics that cannot be reproduced in mixed-species relationships.
- Window Perches
Can cats get lonely even with playthings? All of the toys in the world will still become repetitive after a while. You know what’s not repetitive? Outdoor activities. Pick a couple of windows in the house with prime views. Watching birds, squirrels, humans, cars, and other outside commotion will entertain them when their toys get old.
If you’re up for a new project, you can also try building your own “catio”! It allows your cat to be outside without any threat of predators or risk of escaping.
- Play that Funky Music
Music is magic for the soul! Simply leaving a radio station or TV channel playing throughout the day will provide invaluable mental stimulation. Hearing human voices helps to ease the stress of separation anxiety. If your cat isn’t a fan of NPR interviews or SVU reruns, there are DVDs made specifically for cats!
- Hunt Simulations
It’s in a cat’s natural instinct to hunt. Beyond making them more physically active and mentally alert, it gives them something to do while you’re gone.
Before you leave for the day, hide treats around the house for them to “hunt”. Find new places every day to keep it entertaining! You can even hide catnip toys or anything else they can use scent to locate.
You can also play with them even while you’re gone! How do you do that? There are toys such as robotic mice that can be set on timers to activate randomly through the day. You cat will always be on their toes looking for the next surprise!
The most simple and important thing you can do to make your cat happy is to play with them! Not only does it help their health, but improves yours too. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or have heart issues, taking time to play with your cat helps you heal. It’s a win-win situation!
Keeping It Cool, Calm, and Fun!
If you think your cat is okay without you, you’re wrong. Having a cat can definitely be a little bit more work than it’s let on to be. Despite how detached they may seem, they are always keeping an eye on their favorite human. A lack of playtime and social interaction can have detrimental effects on their health.
However, it’s not all that bad. Playing with your cat is good for the both of you and overall makes for a happier home. Adopting another cat or two will make for an even cozier home and happier cats! They can challenge each other all day hunting and playing. The best part? That’s even more cuddling for you!
The next best thing you can do is build or buy a “catio”. You’ve been looking for a new project anyway, right? These special home additions will give your pack of crazy cats even more room to roam. They can breathe fresh air and explore the outdoors even when you aren’t home.
At the very least, leave your radio on when you leave for the office. The sound of human voices will help to comfort your cat while you aren’t around.
Can cats get lonely? Yes, we are all susceptible to loneliness and require social interaction to keep our health well-rounded. Protect your cat from the sufferable symptoms of separation anxiety today. All it takes is a little bit of extra time, effort, and a lot of love.