Does Adopting a Second Cat Help Fight Feline Loneliness?
Companionship is a necessity for cats, just like it is for humans. Many cats benefit from having a feline buddy to play and bond with, but how can you be sure your cat is looking for a companion and not dealing with a physical or mental health issue? Unfortunately, there is no way to be sure, but certain kitty cues may indicate that it’s time to become a multi-cat household.
How Do I Know if My Cat Is Lonely?
Cats communicate their loneliness by trying to get your attention. They may be expressing their displeasure at being left alone or seeking additional quality time.
The most common signs of cat loneliness are:
- Litter box rebellion (i.e., spraying or squatting outside of their litter box)
- Out-of-control crying and meowing
- Increased clinginess
- Destructive behavior (scratching, shredding, chewing, and all-around mischief)
- Aggression towards you, especially as you are leaving the home
- Irregular sleeping patterns or eating behaviors
Make sure to reach out to your veterinarian if your cat suddenly exhibits any of these symptoms, since they may indicate a greater medical concern.
If your home has recently gone through a significant change, such as the loss of a pet, return to school for the kids, or increased work hours for the primary caregiver, then there’s a good chance that your cat is lonely. On the other hand, if you have a younger cat and see more destructive behavior, it may be in response to boredom as opposed to isolation.
Is My Cat Lonely or Bored?
It can be tricky figuring out the root of your cat’s displeasure or change in behavior. Remember that getting another cat may not be the only way to solve your cat’s loneliness. Making an effort to spend more quality time playing or snuggling with your lonely cat could be all that they need.
Adding new climbing structures, cardboard boxes to explore, or a new boredom-busting pet gadget could be a cheaper and easier way to combat kitty boredom. Installing windowsill perches is another way to add stimulation to your cat’s daily routine. Giving them a secure and elevated hideout can also enhance their sense of security and well-being.
Does Adding Another Cat Cure Loneliness?
Depending on your cat’s personality, they may not be developing socially if they are left alone all day. Younger cats may even remember early life with their littermates and miss the companionship of their mother and siblings.
It’s hard for a human companion to offer enough behavioral stimulation for a cat, especially if they are away from the home for large portions of the day. Adding another cat to your household adds variety, entertainment, and a new source of stimulus, enhancing quality of life.
The flip side of kitty companionship is that adding another cat can overly stress your primary cat. Cats love a predictable routine and environment. Any disruption of their home territory can trigger defensive aggression. Cats are creatures of habit, so having another animal arrive unannounced as a full-time roommate can be momentous. That is why it is important that you carefully assess your cat’s personality before deciding to add another kitty to the mix.
Assessing Your Cat’s Personality
How does your cat react when you bring new people into your home? Are they friendly and curious or scared and standoffish? They will likely exhibit a similar response to a new roommate.
If you decide to adopt another cat, pay careful attention to their personality—the closer the match in cat personalities, the more likely a harmonious multi-cat home. For example, a peaceful, reserved catnapper might not take kindly to a rambunctious, extroverted, high-energy cat. If you are adopting from a shelter, try to adopt a cat from another multi-cat or multi-pet household.
Solitary By Nature
Remember that in the wild, cats are solitary predators and do not live in collective groups. Cats are not pack animals like dogs. They will tolerate living closely together in feral cat colonies if it benefits them or their kittens in terms of greater safety or access to food.
Before you add another cat to your home, make sure to consider whether you have enough space to allow two cats to create separate dens and territory ranges. Overcrowding with multiple cats can be a significant stressor.
Timing Is Important
If you are thinking of bringing a kitten into your home to liven up your elder kitty, think again. When introduced to communal living, the younger the two cats are, the greater the chances of a friendly cohabitation.
Typically, adult cats struggle to accept a new roommate, however, cats are highly adaptable and usually learn to tolerate another cat if the new cat learns to stick to their territory.
5 Tips for a Stress-Free Transition to a Multi-cat Household
Cats are creatures of habit, so adding another feline to the mix can be a significant adjustment.
However, these 5 measures can help keep the peace in a multi-cat home:
- Start by creating separate sleeping and feeding areas for your two cats.
- Limit other changes or stimuli when you add a new cat. This is not a good time to redo a room or learn how to play the drums, for example.
- Add additional vertical space and kitty hide-out spaces, so each can retreat when they need time alone.
- Purchase one litter box for each cat plus one extra. Cats use urine and feces to mark their territories, so make sure they aren’t tempted to leave a mess anywhere but in their litter box.
- Initially separate the cats and make sure introductions are brief and not a source of added tension.
Take Your Time
While you may be anxious to help your lonely cat, be sure to put some thought into what is best for everyone. Watch your cat’s behavior and check in with your vet to ensure nothing else is causing your cat’s crankiness. Caring for another animal will add to your pet budget and may not make your life any easier. If you think it’ll work for every member of your household, take it slow and make sure introductions are done on every cat’s terms.