Originally published Oct 6, 2016
Everyone is familiar with the cat stereotype: they are proud, solitary animals who can keep their own company…or are they? While cats do generally do well as solitary pets, some Ragdoll cats do get lonely if their owner has long working hours, and would really benefit from a little companionship.
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A reader recently asked the question how can I tell if my cat is lonely and might want a companion? There is a wealth of knowledge about cats and loneliness from pet owners, and experts also point to some signs to look for if you think your cat might be lonely. Here are a few things to consider if you are wondering if your Ragdoll kitty needs 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. On the other hand, some pet owners report that they didn’t even know their cat was lonely until they brought home another pet, and then the two became inseparable. Here are a few signs that your cat might be lonely:
- Aggression – becoming aggressive or dominant with you, particularly when you are getting ready to leave the house.
- Anxiety – signs of anxiety could include fear of loud noises or strangers visiting, as well as excessive grooming, which can be a cry for more attention.
- Vocalization – communicating unhappiness at your departure with loud vocalizations.
- Marking and Destruction – moving or wrecking household objects while your 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.
If your cat seems a little too sad to see you go and a little too excited for your return, it might be a sign that they are lonely in your absence.
Potential Pitfalls of Getting Another Pet
It is also possible that if your cat seems depressed, another animal could add to their stress and anxiety rather than alleviating it. Sometimes cats do not respond well to a new pet to share their owner with. Some pet owners have experience cats either 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 also what kind and age of cat you would want to bring into the family. Many people instantly think kitten, but older cats could also be successful companions. Some pet owners also 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.
Introducing New Cats
If you truly think that your cat is lonely and wanting a companion, try to set up situations where you can see how they do around other cats or pets; see if you can “borrow” a friend or family member’s cat for a day. While it definitely takes time for pets to adjust to each other, you might be able to gather from an initial reaction how they would do with a new furry member of the household.
If you got your kitty from a breeder, you might also check with the breeder 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 really does want a companion and how they would do with other cats.
Ways to Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Stimulation
You can also try to alleviate your pet’s loneliness by making sure that they are getting enough stimulation throughout the day. The most obvious way to do this is by making a conscious effort to play with them yourself for a little while each day, but there are some other strategies for busy cat owners:
- Window with a view – Make sure that your cat can look out a window while your gone. You can add to their entertainment by putting a bird feeder outside of the window so that 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 – You can also leave the TV or radio on while you are out of the house for a little bit of comforting background noise. There are also videos that you can buy and play for your cat while you aren’t home.
- Outdoor cat pen – Even indoor cats might enjoy a little change of scenery if you can let them outside in a safe, contained way. Think about adding an outdoor cat pen to your yard, possibly even connected to your home by a cat door.
Sometimes a cat might benefit more from subtle attempts to entertain and stimulate them throughout the day rather then bringing them home a new playmate.
However, the Ragdoll cat breed in particular is known to be social and easygoing, so if your Ragdoll seems lonely and shows signs of interacting well with other cats, their lives might be greatly enriched by a feline playmate!
Has your cat ever seemed lonely? What did you do to stimulate them more? Did you get them a companion, and if so, how did they react?