Lonely Cat: How Do I Know if My Ragdoll Cat Is Lonely?
Everyone is familiar with the stereotypes about cats’ personalities: they are proud, solitary animals who can keep their own company and treat their owners as their servants… But is that an accurate reflection of who they really are?
While cats generally do well as solitary pets, some Ragdolls become lonely cats if their owner has long working hours or travels often. Many Ragdoll cats find comfort and benefit from a little companionship. It’s important to assess your cats’ behavior to see if they might be lonely.
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Lonely Cat Syndrome
“How can I tell if my cat is lonely and might want a companion?” This is a question I receive from my readers often.
I’ve found that our community of pet owners has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cats’ behavior and loneliness. After all, they spend the most time with their cats. Our Facebook community is a great place to connect with other cat parents and build relationships with other Ragdoll cat owners.
Experts can also help point out signs to look for if you think your cat might be lonely. Your veterinarian can best assess if your cat has depression or any underlying medical issues that might be causing your cat’s behavior.
Here are a few things to consider if you think your Ragdoll kitty may need a friend.
Signs that Your Ragdoll Cat Might Be Lonely
Every cat is different, and Ragdoll kittens who have minimal interactions with owners or other pets could still be happy and playful. Most pet owners report that they were completely unaware they had a lonely cat until they brought home another feline companion and the two became inseparable.
So, how do you know if your furry friend is lonely?
Here are a few signs that you may have a lonely cat:
- Aggression – Becoming aggressive or dominant with you, particularly when you are prepping to leave the house. Separation anxiety causes agitation and a change in your cat’s behavior when your cat is aware you will be leaving them home alone.
- Anxiety – Signs of anxiety could include fear of loud noises or strangers visiting. Your cat may also seek shelter and hide if they are unsure how to respond to how they feel.
- Excessive Vocalization – If your cat is communicating unhappiness at your departure with loud vocalizations– you know, that kind of droning and meowing that tells everyone in the house that the cat is unhappy. This is a tell-tale sign you have a lonely cat.
- Marking and Destruction – A lonely cat will find trouble by moving or wrecking household objects while you’re gone, or squatting and spraying. Leaving feces and urine in obvious places while you are gone might be your cat’s way of conveying their unhappiness. Bored cats may shred toilet paper, or carpet, or scratch things other than their scratching posts to emphasize their displeasure.
- Increased sleeping – Cats are known for napping, but too much sleep could indicate you have a bored or lonely cat.
- Clinginess or over-grooming – Excessive grooming, snuggling more than usual, getting under your feet, or rubbing up against you and furniture is a loud cry for affection. If your cat seems a little too sad to see you go and a little too excited for your return, it might signal that they are lonely in your absence.
Ways to Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Stimulation
If you are not wanting to add another pet to your home, you can try alleviating your pet’s loneliness by ensuring they get enough stimulation daily.
The most obvious way to do this is by making a conscious effort to play with your lonely cat for a little while each day.
However, there are some other strategies for busy cat owners:
- Make a Comfortable Corner: Cats love nooks of their own. Cat trees with cubbies up high are often an appreciated component of a cat corner. Sunshine and a comfy blanket with a few toys will make for a much happier cat. Make sure the area is big enough for them to stretch out and run around a bit.
- Leave a Fun Puzzle Toy: Part of a cat’s routine is to hunt/play, eat, groom and sleep. If you leave out a fun puzzle toy for them to play with, they can entertain themselves.
- Socialization: Studies have shown how great of an effect a bond between a cat and its owners can have. Cats often adjust their behaviors based on how much socialization they get. Adding more socialization with humans can reduce their stress.
- Exercise: A moving cat is never bored. Cats thrive on visual stimulation and motion. Added exercise helps cats keep their brain and body healthy.
- Consider Coming Home During Lunchtime: If your work schedule allows, try adding a lunch date with your cat to your routine. Your lonely cat may perk right up to see you more often during the day.
- Window with a view: Make sure that your cat can look out a window while you’re gone. There is always something going on out there for them to observe. You can assure a full day of entertainment by placing a bird feeder outside the window, so they can be mesmerized by birds all day. Just make sure to keep the window closed so they don’t decide to pounce!
- TV or radio: Do you like for your house to be quiet house all the time? I know having background noise helps me feel more comfortable, and your cats might feel the same way. Leaving the TV or radio on while you are out of the house can create comforting background noises and help make your lonely cat feel safer. Classical music is another great choice for background noises. There are also videos that you can buy and play for your cat while you aren’t home to keep them entertained.
- Outdoor cat pen or catio: Even indoor cats enjoy a change of scenery if you can let them outside in a safe, contained way. Consider adding an outdoor cat pen/enclosure to your yard, possibly even connected to your home by a cat door or window.
There are many benefits to these areas for both you and your cat.
Toys for lonely cats
Here are a few ideas to keep your cat’s body busy while you’re home to make sure they’re fulfilled.
- Laser pointers: These are great for when you’re tired, but your cat needs to move.
- Wand toys: Anything with feathers or bells will be a win with your cat. We love RompiCatz teaser toys in my household!
- Puzzle Toys: Part of a cat’s routine is to hunt/play, eat, groom and sleep. If you leave out a fun puzzle toy for them to play with, they can entertain themselves.
- Moving mice: Engage your cats’ hunting instincts by getting them a toy mouse. If you want to make them happy, toss them one with catnip every so often!
- Agility wall: If you have the square footage and want to step up your cat corner game, you can add ledges and runs to your wall for your cat to explore. Include places up high and down low to give them new options.
- Interactive toys: Self-motivated interactive toys like treat puzzles can be a fantastic way to keep your cat on its toes. Puzzle toys present a challenge for your cat to work through, help them tune their fine motor skills, and help release built-up frustration your cat may have.
Social interaction helps lonely cats
A lonely cat can benefit significantly from more socializing. As I mentioned earlier, socialization is key to a happy cat. If you can’t be around them as much as you would like right now, consider one of these options:
Pet Sitters for lonely cats
Pet sitters can be an amazing option to help your cats with loneliness! Most pet parents only consider hiring a pet sitter when they are going on vacation, but did you know you can also hire them for drop-in visits? This tactic is often used by dog owners, but cat owners can also pay someone to come hang out with their cat for an hour several times a week, or however often works for them.
Having a consistent pet sitter allows your cat to have some company, which can really help with their loneliness. Plus, then if you’re going to go out of town, you’ll have someone your cat is comfortable with who you feel you can trust.
If you are heading out of town for a bit and can’t take your cat, boarding them may be a positive way to ensure they get the attention they need. If you choose this option, always do a trial run-through first to make sure the atmosphere is right for your cat.
Sometimes a cat might be bored rather than lonely, and they might benefit more from subtle attempts to entertain and stimulate them throughout the day rather than bringing them home a new playmate.
The Ragdoll cat breed is known to be social and easygoing, so if your Ragdoll seems like a lonely cat and shows signs of interacting well with other cats, their lives might become more enriched by a feline playmate!
Lonely Cat Games
Spicing up your cat’s everyday routine with an unexpected game is a great way to keep your cat stimulated and on the prowl. Try one of these simple ideas:
Crumpled Piece of Paper
Snag a piece of paper and crumple it up loosely. Toss it over by your cat and watch them bat it all across the house.
If you are planning to walk back and forth through your house when you are home, tie a piece of string to your belt loop and watch your cat get into a frenzy as he tries to catch it.
A simple paper bag can open up a world of fun for your kitty! A paper bag in the middle of the floor screams to your cat’s curiosity, and they will probably love playing with it.
Hide and Seek
Cats love to know what you are up to. They follow you around to see where you’re going and snoop behind corners pretending you don’t know they are there. However, it’s an entirely different game when you do that to them. Once they know they have been spotted, they flip their role and like to hide and let you find them.
Introducing New Cats
If you believe you have a lonely cat who needs a companion, you can look into getting a second cat. Just keep in mind that cats cannot be thrown together and expect to get along.
Unlike dogs, there is a necessary introduction process and time period. You can read about how to introduce cats on our site.
If you got your kitty from a breeder, check to see what their situation was like there. Did they get along with other cats? Were they more social or solitary? This might give you some insight into whether your cat does want a companion and how they would do with other cats.
Quick tips for adding your second feline friend:
When introducing a new pet into your home, it is important to create a setting for success.
Even if your cat has demonstrated signs of happily getting along with other cats in the past, this may change when your cat’s territory will be permanently altered by this new friend. Their territory is now a shared space. You want your lonely cat to embrace this new change, not experience stress from it.
First, follow the steps on how to introduce cats and then…
Give your cat and the new addition plenty of areas in your house to feel they can coexist. While adjusting to their new companion, either cat may want to claim a safe space or check out the environment without the other cat around.
Don’t throw too much at your cats too quickly. Adding a new housemate is stressful, so only try to give them one big change to handle at a time.
- Move furniture
- Add too many pets at once
- Move, or do anything else that may throw them for a loop, while introducing the new cat.
Give your cats a little more comfort by adding vertical elements to their environment. Cats are observers by nature, and giving them high-up, lofty spaces allows them to feel safe to assess their new friend from up high. Start by getting a taller scratching post, and clearing off a few higher shelves they can have access to.
Add a litter box
Two cats means two litter boxes, minimum. Some pet owners even suggest three. Be sure not to move your existing first litter box, as this can throw off your first cat and cause some messes. Add a second box where appropriate and evaluate after a week to see if a third is necessary.
Slow and Separate
Remember to go slow and keep the cats separated for a bit. Never force your cat to be around another cat right off the bat. Just because you have a lonely cat doesn’t mean they will get along at first. Making friends can take time.
Potential Pitfalls of Getting Another Pet
If your cat seems depressed, it is possible that another animal could add to their stress and anxiety rather than alleviate it. This is something you need to consider before committing to another cat.
Sometimes cats do not respond well to a new pet sharing their owner. Some pet owners have experienced cats outright disliking each other, hissing whenever they are near each other, or just barely tolerating each other.
This could be especially true for older cats who are more resistant to change.
Consider what kind and age of cat you may want to bring into the family. Many people instantly think of kittens, but older cats could also be successful companions.
Some pet owners suggest that different breeds get along better than others. For example, one theory is that fluffy cats do not generally like other fluffy cats.
Do a little research on your cat breed to try and find out what kind of cat might be most compatible for them.
Before Getting Your Lonely Cat a Companion
Just as you have made the promise to love and care for your first cat properly, you must do the same for the cat you welcome into your family. Before adding to your clan, stop and consider a few factors within yourself to see if you are in a good place personally to add another pet to your home.
Do you have the time and dedication for another pet right now? Wait on getting another cat if you are hoping your first cat will occupy the new cat. Your new family member will need just as much of your love and affection as the first. Be prepared for this.
Do you realistically have the space for a second cat? If your living space is on the small side, a second pet may not be a good choice. Make sure your home can accommodate the needs of both cats together.
Added pets come with added costs. Can you afford vet bills, food, treats, and cat equipment your new kitty will need?
If you get a second cat, you will have more litter mess to scoop. Both of your cats may take some time to adjust, which means marking and litter box issues may arise while the cats are sorting things out. If you loathe scooping, you may want to go a different route.
If You’ve Determined You Have a Lonely Cat
Knowing the signs of a lonely cat and the behavioral problems associated with loneliness will help you be ready to approach your cat’s need for stimulation and companionship with their best interests in mind.
If you choose to simply add more stimulating toys to your cat’s daily routine or decide to bring home a new companion for your lonely cat, remember to approach this new challenge with your cat’s needs at the forefront. Choose what will best work for them.
Do you think you might live with a lonely cat? What can you do to give them more physical and mental stimulation? If you have dealt with a lonely cat, did you get them a companion? How did they react?
Pounce over and check out these cat toys
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,
ALWAYS great info to read again, Jenny honey! TYSVM for this fabulous re-post!! 🙂 <3
Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3
Yamw, Jenny honey! 🙂 <3
Also, if your cat sleeps a lot. I always thought that was natural with cats until I got 3 cats that are actually family. Now, they sleep for a few hours, then they play (chasing each other around the house), then they eat, then they nap, then they want to go outside or sit in the window, then they snack, then they sleep. I know that if one of them sleeps all day that something is wrong – especially if they choose to sleep somewhere else instead of with me (and each other).
To Cherie – BIG typo – Meant “Your special relationship with PEACHY…” That’s what happens to my pea brain at 4 am! Apologize and hope you knew what I was trying to say. Sending you and Peachy much love and blessings from all of us here in Virginia!♥♥♥
Hi Teresa 🙂 Many thanks for your lovely reply. Yes, I knew exactly what you were meaning 🙂 Goodness me, you should see my brain at 4am … and 5am … and 6am … yes that is when one young man decides I should be playing with him atm. Talk about a nutcase … both him and I … me because I am feeling like a zombie … Peachy because he just believes that now I’m letting him outside in the beautiful weather during the day, he thinks nighttime should follow the exact same routine. I am sleeping at the moment with one eye open, and he knows it …. he is one smart cat!!! It is a beautiful Spring season here, and getting warmer every day 🙂 Thank you again for your lovely comments 🙂
Thanks for being so gracious Cherie! Wishing you all a wonderful Spring season! ♥♥♥
Great topic! Have only had one kitty at a time when I was only 13, and she was very happy being the only girl just like Patti said.
Funny this subject came up today because here’s another take on that I was just thinking about. Just because we have 3 inside kitties, doesn’t mean that they don’t get lonely too sometimes. By that I mean that they ALL need that extra individual attention and extra special loving from their humans even though they might have other siblings in the house.
Today, I was working on a project and heard Gracie calling me with her “lonesome” voice that sounds like “wha-wha-wha.” Now, even though her sister was just a few feet away, she wanted something which was quickly identified as a “kitty-kat (treat)” AND she wanted me to play with her. So, we had the snack time (for everyone) and then I gave Gracie a hollow plastic tube I had some beads in previously, and watched her eyes grow so big that it was something new! Then, she happily batted it around like it was the best toy she had ever seen. Her joy was so contagious that Illaria joined in too. She had us all laughing at her funny faces and antics. ♥♥♥
Yes! I agree that just because you have two cats doesn’t mean they don’t get lonesome! Charlie is definitely more needy than Trigg, for example.
♥♥♥ We actually have 3, but Moody Miss Mari won’t play with anyone sadly to say because of her days as an orphan, she had to watch her back literally so much that she views anything like play as being aggression. ♥♥♥
Hi Teresa 🙂 My flame point raggie Peachy never got the chance to be friendly with the 3 cats he lived with before I adopted him, as he was being constantly attacked by a fellow ragdoll, and 2 maine coons. Poor Peachy didn’t really stand a chance due to his coat colour either as he stood out like a sore thumb next to a sealpoint raggie, a silver smoke maine coon and a tabby maine coon, so of course through his first sixteen months of age, he was quite a loner. Feeding times were a “get it and scoff it before you miss out”, so it was constantly an environment of fight or flight … in Peachy’s case it was better to run, and stay out of every cats way. Also the fact that when one small kitten is pitted against a ragdoll 3 times the size of them, and well, we all know how big maine coons are … my heart broke for Peachy … he must have been so scared on a daily basis. I guess you could say that Peachy was definitely an orphan, and didn’t get that chance to attach himself to any other being. When I brought him home, it was a huge change for him to find that his new mate, my gorgeous Neme, didn’t have that fighting instinct in her … heck she made friends with everything and everyone, even sheep!!! Of course for him, the first month was really a challenge for him, but after that he gradually settled, and he and Neme became great mates … he really was her caregiver and friend up until she passed away 2 weeks ago today, and he has missed her very much, but has bounced back greatly, and now is really opening up and attaching himself to me, which is just fantastic. So he is longer a loner now, and he is doing just fine being the King of his castle. He is just one of those cats that does just fine on his own, and with having 5 generations of tortoiseshell blood through his lineage, his jealous streak isnt something that has to rear its ugly head, and make him feel like he has to compete with another for attention. I of course am happy to give him all that attention (please read my post above to Patti) as I just love and adore him so much. It is truly a beautiful thing to be loved and owned by my beautiful Peachy 🙂 But then, aren’t all us Raggie owners just so lucky anyway 🙂 Blessings and greetings to you and your precious babies from Peachy and I down here at the bottom of the world 🙂
Am so very sorry to hear about your precious Neme’s passing. Your little Peachy sounds like such an easy going little guy. You are so blessed to have him. Love that he is pouring out his love on you even more now and truly believe that he is doing his best to help mend your heart. He sounds like pure love. Funny you said that about the Maine Coons being so aggressive to him because our 3rd rescue kitty, Moody Miss Mari (Mariposa), is a MaineCoon who we took in about 9 years ago now one cold winter day. Neither Gracie or Illaria let her ruin their happy little fun times they have playing together and hunting for treats all over the house. On rare occasions, Mari will join in and that is a joyful time when she gets a lot of praise for her good behavior. Feel so sad for her that she really doesn’t understand how much love she is missing out on from her little Ragdoll sisters!
This special relationship between you and your Neme will continue to grow into a very deep and soulful bond. You are very blessed to have that.
Thanks so much for your sweet note from down under. Sending you and Peachy many good wishes for a nice fall and Christmas season!♥♥♥
Awwww…what a delightful story, Sweet T! Miss Gracie Boo and Miss Illaria are so expressive with their meows and facial expressions. What fun that must have been! Such a good Kitty Momma are YOU!!! 🙂 <3 <3 <3
Thank you Patti! Cherish each and every day that we have with these amazing kitties just as I know you and everyone here does with their little ones! We are all so blessed to be able to give and receive love with our angels!♥♥♥♥
I agree!!! 🙂 <3 <3 <3
Wonderful post and great information, Jenny! Thank you so much for addressing this subject. I found it very interesting.
We are very lucky that our girl, Miss Pink Sugarbelle, is very well-adjusted to being the only pet in our small home (apartment). It’s very rare that my hubby and I are out of the apartment at the same time as we stick pretty close to home. If we are out and about taking a walk around the complex, she seems to adjust very well and trusts that we are coming back soon. I leave the apartment more than my hubby for bike rides and shopping and Miss PSB never seems to freak out or anything because Daddy is still home. (She’s such a Daddy’s Girl.)
Now, if I could afford another Ragdoll (and our apartment complex would waive the one pet per apartment rule for us) would I get one? That’s a hard decision. My heart would want a 2nd Ragdoll for sure! But, I wouldn’t want to disrupt Miss PSB’s environment as she’s used to being The Queen Of Everything! (However, she’s so easygoing that I think she would probably adjust fairly well but the point is moot as we just can’t afford a second Ragdoll right now. But I think a lot about it because what’s better than one Ragdoll? Two Ragdolls!!! lol) 🙂 <3
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle (who is turning 4 years old tomorrow on October 7th!) 🙂 <3
ha ha ha – cute. i am sure they don’t even know Pink Sugarbelle is there…I always thought Rags was happy as an only cat – and PSB too with you guys being retired and home most of the time.
lol…I’m sure our downstairs neighbor thinks we have a herd of elephants up here in our place when Miss PSB does her growly crazy zoomies in the wee small hours of the morning. She growls and runs around and bounces off the living room couch to her tree tower (the tree tower actually wobbles from the force of her weight hitting it at a high speed) and then zooms down the steps we have next to her tree tower (to make it easy for her to get in and out of it (so her joints don’t take a beating from jumping from the tower platform to the floor). But, we don’t feel too bad about it all since we hear their cute little Lhaso Apso dogs barking all the time (and I’m sure those little dogs bark when their hear our girl zooming around up here, too…lol). 🙂 <3
Oh, and Patti … my Peachy turns 4 on November 1st. Miss PSB is just one month older than my Peachy, so purrs and hugs to her from Peachy and I down in New Zealand for a fantastic birthday!!! 🙂
Thanks, Cherie! And BIG PURRY HUGS & KISSES to you and Peachy from us! New Zealand! Such a beautiful country and awesome people! My dad spent some time TDY there when he was in the USAF in the 1970s. He fell in lurve with NZ. How lucky you are to live in such a beautiful and wonderful country! 🙂 <3
Kia Ora to you and Miss PSB Patti 🙂 I too am glad Jenni addressed this question, as having just put my adorable, beautiful sealpoint raggie girl Neme to sleep 2 weeks ago tomorrow, I did have concerns as to whether Peachy, my flame point raggie boy, would have found it hard to have adjusted to no longer having a mate. But of course, with his personality and clown like ways, my fears were unfounded. He is now officially the King of his castle, and me his dutiful servant and devoted mum 🙂 He has shown himself to be one extremely resilient and laid back ragdoll who has just taken everything in stride, and it is reassuring to me that he is going to be okay. He did search quite a bit for Neme the first 2 days and nights, and after that it was just a “ah well she isn’t here so never mind” thing …. talk about non plus!!! He is definitely turning a woosy puss now, so I get all the attention now both day and night … the early mornings are every hour on the hour “well now it’s time to wake mum ’cause I want cuddles and snuggles” … oh, and the drooling, purrs and carrying on like a crazy when he receives what he wants … he is just nuts!!! Still, I know he loves me to pieces, and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 Of course, that is not to say that I don’t miss my Neme … I miss her so much and it’s taking some adjusting to her not being here, but we’ll get there. When I cry, Peachy knows just what to do … he sits with me and licks the tears off my face, which is just so cute, and chats away to me … he is my rock, my precious gem and helps me to get through my bad days, just as I do with him. He really is my 2nd soul connection, and I am very blessed to owned by one of God’s most beautiful creatures. So, to sum it up, it really comes down to the type of cat you have … some do just fine on their own, others need that companionship, you really have to know your cat to figure this out, and if you do know them well, you make the adjustments for them and not yourself (finances make a difference too) … in the end, we work it out 🙂
So sorry to hear about your beautiful Neme. Please accept my very heartfelt and sincere condolences, Cherie. BIG HUGS!!! <3 <3 <3
Lurve that Peachy is a flame point. Sounds like such a fun and loving boy, too. And, he's definitely in tune with your soul and knows how to help you through your grief over Neme. <3 <3 <3
(Lurve those flames! If I could ever afford to get a 2nd Raggy I would definitely want a flame!)
Glad that Peachy is adjusting very well. What you said above makes a lot of sense. Good advice! 🙂 <3
Hi again Patti 🙂 Thank you so very much for your sincere condolences (big hugs back from Peachy and I) regarding the loss of my very dear and precious Neme. I was so lucky, so blessed to have had her for an extra 10 years of her life, as she was diagnosed at 1 and a half years of age with feline asthma, and my vet had only given her a life span of 6 years at most. Neme was a very defiant cat at best in so many ways … anything I tried to prevent her from doing, she just ended up doing … my babydoll was such a strong willed little lady, and she had the biggest heart and most gentlelest soul and nature for so many other creatures and people that crossed her path … even the local locksmith was made a friend of in her last week of life. He was only at my house for an hour and a bit the Monday night, and she just wandered right up to him, deciding he was going to be her friend … he’d never had a cat approach him like that, and he thought she was just amazing!!! That was one of the many beautiful things about my babydoll … she had this belief that everyone should have a friend no matter who they were … she made friends with birds, dogs, sheep and so many other entities that I lost count. When I put my tortoiseshell cat Carrie to sleep back in November 9th of 2013 (she was 2 months shy of 22 years of age), Neme fell into a deep depression as she and Carrie had been such good mates. So she and I were so lucky when Peachy came along in March 2014 … Neme made a friend with him right then and there and he broke out of her depression, so the both of them saved each other, and she had such a wonderful caregiver and mate until 2 weeks ago when she passed. Peachy gave her such a wonderful level of comfort, but she still let him know on a constant basis who was Boss. She was such an optimistic lady, who was just so open and giving with others. Neme lived a wonderful and full 16 years of life with such devotion and love to me, and I was so lucky to be chosen to be her mum 🙂 Yes, I have been blessed with being loved and owned by 2 beautiful ragdolls, and although I have only one now, it’s still the best thing in the world. Oh, and with Peachy, and his 5 generations of tortoiseshell dna in his lineage … I still have a huge lot of Ragdoll to love and care for, and I’m a very happy mum in amongst it all 🙂
Beautifully stated, Cherie! You have truly been blessed with your kittehs, past and present! I agree that having a Ragdoll (or several!) is the best thing in the world!!! 🙂 <3 <3 <3