Sleeping, sunbathing, grooming; it seems like cats could spend all day peacefully relaxing in their own company.
While cats may appear like solitary animals to the outside viewer, the reality is that cats need love and attention like any domesticated pet. Felines are social animals that can get stressed, lonely, and even depressed if left alone for too long.
Learn about cat behavior and how you can better understand and support your feline’s needs.
Do Cats Like Being Alone?
While cats enjoy their independence, they are also social creatures who want human interactions. You can expect your cat to be fine during the average workday but would likely get sad if left alone day after day.
Different cats will enjoy varying levels of solitude; some cats may be natural loners, while others are extroverted kitties that require extra attention for a happy life.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Lonely
Cats have emotional needs just like humans. If you’re worried your cat is lonely, look for changes in their everyday routine. Note any changes in personality, appetite, activity level, grooming habits, litter box habits, sleep patterns, appearance, and behavior.
If your cat feels lonely and ignored, they will begin to withdraw. You might notice your kitty keeps to themself, only coming out from under the bed to eat or use the litter box. Maybe their coat looks matted or dirty, showing neglect of hygiene. They may only use the litterbox sporadically, instead eliminating in corners of the house.
Your cat may also exhibit attention-seeking behavior if their needs aren’t being met. Typical attention-seeking behavior includes following their owner around, excessive pawing, jumping on surfaces to be closer to you, vocalizing, biting, weaving in and out of their owner’s legs, and destructive behavior.
How To Support A Lonely Cat
If your cat is showing signs of loneliness, first contact your veterinarian. Loneliness and depression can seriously affect your cat’s health. If your feline stops eating, consult your vet immediately. It’s dangerous for your cat to go without food for more than twenty-four hours. Your vet may prescribe a medication to support your cat’s mental health.
After a visit to the vet, it’s time to make life fun again! Use lots of interactive play. Wand toys are a great way to mimic prey so your cat can stalk and attack like a predator. Laser toys can also simulate prey. When using a laser, be sure that your cat gets to pounce and attack a real toy at the end of playtime so they aren’t frustrated with an unsuccessful hunt. A bit of catnip is a great reward as well.
Add environmental enrichment through cat tunnels, puzzle feeders, lick mats, food balls, wall climbing steps, scratching posts, cat wheels, window hammocks, window bird feeders, or cat trees strategically placed by windows. Even empty cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls can improve your cat’s environment. Hide some cat toys in fun paces, set up some cozy hideaways, treat your cat to a silvervine stick, and so on.
There are also plenty of free game apps and YouTube videos to entertain your furry friend. Watch your buddy catch mice, fish, ladybugs, and more. Or, play an animal program on TV to hold your cat’s interest. Try playing calming music while you are away. Look for playlists on YouTube or your preferred music app that include music frequencies for cats.
Use a pheromone diffuser, such as Feliway, that contains chemicals that mimic cat pheromones. These diffusers and sprays can help calm your cat while you’re away.
Give your cat plenty of attention. If you haven’t tried clicker training, this would be an excellent time to start working with your cat. If your feline has been neglecting their grooming duties, spend quality time together with daily brushing. Above all else, if your cat is attempting contact, don’t ignore them. If your cat doesn’t enjoy being petted or touched, you can sit with them, providing comfort just by your presence. You can easily spend quality time with your cat by reading a book or working on your computer in the same room as your cat.
If your cat’s loneliness is caused by a change in your schedule or lifestyle, consider getting your fur baby a companion cat. Or, have a friend or pet sitter stop by for daily play sessions in needed.
Maybe you are trying to make lifestyle changes but aren’t seeing your cat bounce back like you hoped they would. Or, perhaps, you’ll be on a work trip and find that your buddy hates being away from you. Whatever the reason, sometimes we need a little extra support to help our cats feel better emotionally.
If your cat is stressed or feeling depressed, the following supplements could help lift their mood:
CBD: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil from hemp can help improve depression and give your can an overall sense of well-being. Please read our article on the best CBD cat treats.
L-tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, the “feel-good hormone.” A 2015 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science found that l-tryptophan—in combination with another alpha-casozepine—led to reduced cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in cats’ urine after eight weeks. High tryptophan foods include turkey and chicken. Try including more of these meats in your cat’s diet.
Bach Rescue Remedy: This homeopathic flower essence blend contains ingredients to help with separation anxiety, sadness, and more.
Valerian Root: This sedative herb helps relieve stress and anxiety for about 50 percent of cats.
L-theanine: This amino acid has a relaxing effect and can reduce signs of emotional distress in cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Cats Get Lonely Without Another Cat?
Age, history, and personality will affect how your cat reacts to being alone without another cat. As cats age, they tend to prefer more solitude and get more territorial. Still, if you’re cat is used to having another cat or pet around, they could get lonely if left alone without another animal companion. Some cats are more social than others, just like humans. Some cats may prefer independence, while others love nothing more than cuddling with their brother or sister.
Do Kittens Get Lonely?
Yes, kittens get lonely. Kittens must spend time with other kittens to form social skills and bonds. A kitten separated too early from their litter will be less likely to connect with other cats and humans.
Can Cats Help With My Loneliness?
Humans have a symbiotic relationship with domestic cats. We feed them and give them love and attention. They, in return, deliver both psychosocial and psychophysiological benefits to us:
Pets can boost our oxytocin levels, also called the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” which helps us feel happier and less stressed.
One study found that cat ownership can lower your risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.
Purring can speed the healing of muscles, tendons, and ligament injuries.
Having a pet is a big commitment, no matter the species. Just because cats don’t show their emotions in the same way that dogs do doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Cats can get anxious and sad if left alone for too long. Spend extra quality time with your feline friend and give them all the love and affection they deserve.