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Cats seem to have a flair of independence and they like to come and go as they please. Because of these low-maintenance traits, many cat parents may feel comfortable leaving their cat home alone more frequently or for longer periods of time. But even though cats are often perceived as somewhat aloof, the truth is that cats desire companionship and social interaction on a regular basis.
What does social interaction look like for cats?
Cats have become social with domestication, but because their wild ancestors were solitary felines, the social behaviors of today’s house kitty are far simpler than those of a dog, whose wolf ancestors were pack-minded. Secondly, cats and humans do not share the same views on social behaviors; a cat will perceive hugging, kissing, and petting for longer than they’d like as inappropriate.
For a cat, the pillar of socialization is presence: the company of their people or other pets, interactive playtime, or sleeping on their favorite person are a few examples.
So, do cats get lonely?
Without sufficient social interaction, the answer is yes, a cat will get lonely. Each cat is different with regards to how much social interaction is considered “enough.” But once you’ve formed a bond with your kitty, it’s safe to say she misses you when you’re gone.
Signs of loneliness
A lonely cat will start to feel frustration or aggression from lack of stimulation, which often results in behavioral issues, such as:
- Knocking things off counters
- Going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, like on your bed
- Making mischief or otherwise causing damage
- Excessive vocalization when she sees you again
Though there is no true substitute for your cat’s favorite person (you), there are ways you can keep your kitty from becoming too bored and lonely.
- Environmental enrichment: “Catify” your home by providing plenty of stimulation in the form of cat trees, scratching posts, and window perches.
- Toys: Give your cat a variety of self-stimulating toys that she can enjoy on her own, such as catnip and puzzle toys.
- Background noise: Leave the TV or radio on to break up the silence.
- Cat sitter: If you must regularly be gone for long periods of time, hire a cat sitter to drop in on your kitty. Your furry friend will appreciate having a clean litter box and some play time.
- Another cat: For some cats, having a feline companion can help them feel less lonely. However, this is not a magic bullet, and in some situations, adding another cat to the mix can cause more stress. Cats appreciate other cats of a similar age and energy level, otherwise one cat just might be too much for the other. Additionally, if your cat has a particularly close relationship with you, a second cat will do little to help her loneliness while you’re away.
Though she may not be the best at communicating it, your cat appreciates your presence more than you think.