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
- Signs that Your Ragdoll Cat Might Be Lonely
- Ways to Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Stimulation
- Toys for lonely cats
- Social interaction helps lonely cats
- Lonely Cat Games
- Introducing New Cats
- Potential Pitfalls of Getting Another Pet
- Before Getting Your Lonely Cat a Companion
- If You've Determined You Have a Lonely Cat
- Pounce over and check out these cat toys
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?