There's a popular (and kind of insulting, IMO) joke that only women who are lonely get cats. But what happens if cats get lonely? If you're as attached to your adorable little kitty as I am to mine, you probably imagine your cat spending their days lounging in a perfectly sunny spot by the window, pining for you to return from work or school. But do cats get lonely if they're left alone? My heart is shattering into a million pieces just thinking about it, but apparently, you nor I have any reason to worry about our feline friends while we're away from home.
I'm not sure if this will be comforting or heartbreaking news for you, but according to veterinarian and feline specialist Dr. Liz Bales, when you're away from your cat, they probably aren't missing you as much as you're missing them. "Cats are naturally solitary survivors," she tells Elite Daily over email. "'Lonely' is not really an emotion that they exhibit."
But if you're worried about leaving your feline friend alone all the time, Dr. Bales says the best thing to do is, to put it simply, let your cat be a cat — and again, cats like that solitude most of the time. So instead of treating your kitty like the baby that they are in your adoring eyes, help your cat feel more secure by giving them good hiding places, like a covered bed or box, so they can indulge in their alone time whenever they're craving it. After a long day at work or school, Bales adds, set aside some dedicated playtime together. "Cats are programmed to chase," she tells Elite Daily, "so try to recreate that for your cat by starting with the toy near your cat, and move the toy away from [them] with scurrying, unpredictable movements."
Allowing your kitty to have their own life while you're gone is good for them, says Bales, no matter how much it breaks your heart.
As with any human relationship, Dr. Bales says a little space can be great for strengthening your bond. "When your cat gets to be a cat, they are more confident and relaxed," she tells Elite Daily. "When this happens, they are much more likely to enjoy human company — like cuddling."
Some behaviors that might seem to you like loneliness, the veterinarian explains, could actually be signs of anxiety. If your cat is spending a lot more time than usual grooming herself or hiding, there may be something wrong. Bales recommends keeping a careful watch if these symptoms don't go away. "The signs of anxiety can be the very same ones that a sick cat exhibits," she says. "If you are worried at all, it is always a good idea to have your cat checked out by a veterinarian."
If you're still convinced your feline pal needs a friend (BTW, I totally support you), you're in luck if your cat is still a kitten. While adult cats tend to be a little more set in their ways, Bales says, if your furry friend is still a baby, it may be a great time to double up on the cat kisses. Catster explains that while kittens tend to be a little more flexible when it comes to making friends, adult cats may be less welcoming. The outlet suggests matching up the two cats' ages, because a rambunctious little kitty will likely annoy a grumpy older cat to no end.
Another option, according to Marny Nofi, senior manager of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team, is to sign up to become a cat foster parent.
This way, Nofi tells Elite Daily over email, you'll know how your current fur baby will respond to the new cat. "If you’re not sure your cat will enjoy the company of another feline," she says, "you can try fostering for a local shelter to see if your cat seems to enjoy the experience, before making the commitment to adopt."
Leaving behind a house full of cats while you have to go to work? You have cat to be kitten me right now.