Cats endure a reputation as aloof animals that prefer to keep their own company. Felines are rarely encountered in pairs or packs, adding fuel to this stereotype. Reputations are frequently built upon a fallacy, though. The myth that cats are antisocial is no exception to the rule.
Loneliness in cats can lead to health concerns. Equally, excessive interaction is exhausting for cats and makes them irritable. It’s critical that you understand your pet’s socialization needs. We aim to help you learn how much company your cat enjoys, and when they’ll welcome it.
- 1 Are Cats Solitary Animals?
- 2 Why are Cats So Antisocial?
- 3 Why are Cats Independent?
- 4 Do Cats Form Bonds with Humans and Other Cats?
- 5 How Do I Know if My Cat Wants to Spend Time with Me?
- 6 How Do You Know if a Cat is Lonely?
- 7 Do Cats Get Lonely Without Another Cat?
- 8 Do Cats Get Lonely When You Go on Vacation?
- 9 Do Cats Get Lonely at Night?
Are Cats Solitary Animals?
By their nature, cats are solitary animals. This isn’t a conscious act of hating all forms of company. They’re just descended from equally solitary animals.
When we consider the life of wild cats, this makes sense. Felines thrive and survive by hunting smaller prey. This means that a cat is best served by living alone. If they run with a pack, they would have to share their food.
A mouse doesn’t go far when it’s shared between multiple cats. Especially when, according to Kirkwood Vets, cats need to eat 8 mice a day to sustain themselves.
There is also safety in solitude for cats. When a feline finds a warm and secure place to hide, it becomes their territory. Cats are acutely aware that, although they’re born hunters, they’re also prey to larger predators.
If a cat runs with other felines, they can’t hide by themselves. They need to worry about whether other cats will give away their location. This doesn’t sit right with cats, which are governed by survival instincts.
Of course, none of this applies to domesticated housecats. As a pet owner, you keep them safe and provide all the food they wish for. This makes the behavior of housecats occasionally baffling.
Many people disparage cats as being antisocial animals. This isn’t true, though. If your cat could flip the script, they’d ask, “why are humans so needy?”
Cats enjoy social interaction with humans. In fact, according to the journal Behavioral Processes, they enjoy it more than food. They want this to be on their terms.
To understand why, we need to know how cats view humans. Unlike dogs, who see humans as their masters, cats consider themselves our equals. They also need time to themselves on occasion.
Have you ever chosen not to answer the phone, thinking that you’ll return the call later? This is the same approach cats take when you call their name. If they want to interact, they’ll respond. If not, they’ll catch up with you later.
Forcing a cat to interact when they’re not in the right headspace is bad form. It’s akin to turning up a friend’s house without calling ahead. You’re inserting yourself into your cat’s schedule, and expecting them to accommodate you.
Cats would not consider themselves antisocial. They don’t hate company; they don’t always need it. They would prefer the term independent.
Why are Cats Independent?
We have discussed the lifestyle of wild cats. The same instincts that govern these felines are hardwired in your pet. Genetic make-up cannot be ignored.
Also, let’s refer back to cats seeing humans as their equals. This means that your cat will not automatically assume you can keep them safe.
Retaining their independence helps a cat keep their wits about them. Cats need to know they can get themselves out of trouble when it arises.
This doesn’t mean that cats are unfeeling, or ungrateful for all that we do. They understand that you are a source of pleasure. In a cat’s mind, it’s better to want you than need you.
Do Cats Form Bonds with Humans and Other Cats?
The independence and self-preservation found in cats are often misinterpreted. Felines are not cold and unfeeling. They forge deep, emotional connections with humans and cats alike.
If you work full-time, your cat will likely be home alone for several hours. When you return home, your pet will rush to greet you. This alone should show that your cat has formed a bond with you.
In addition, cats become attached to other felines in the home. This is especially likely when siblings grow up together. The two cats cannot imagine life without each other.
As a result, cats grow anxious when separated from their owners or feline playmates. This doesn’t change the fact that they’re solitary animals. Even bonded cats will frequently take time out to themselves.
Remember, cats do want company. This is why they jump in your lap, or instigate playtime with other felines. They don’t want constant, uninterrupted stimulation.
How Do I Know if My Cat Wants to Spend Time with Me?
The simple answer is that your cat will tell you. If a cat wants attention, they’ll find a way to get it.
They’ll rub against your legs, or jump in your lap. They’ll lie on your computer keyboard, or paw at the newspaper you’re reading. If you continue ignoring them, they’ll knock a glass off a table.
The best way to meet a cat’s desires for attention is to get them into a schedule. Cats love routine. If they know certain times are earmarked for human interaction; they’ll wait patiently.
Set aside set daily periods to interact with your cat. Ideally, aim for first thing in the morning and before their evening meal. These are the times to play games, and engage in physical activity.
Stick to this schedule, and your cat will be happy. Your cat isn’t being antisocial if they decline impromptu handling outside these times. They’re just not ready. They’ll come to find you if they want to be petted.
A routine creates the best of both worlds for cats. They’ll spend time alone, but know that their company is coming. This appeals to an animal that could be described as both social and a loner.
How Do You Know if a Cat is Lonely?
Unfortunately, the myth that cats are unsociable continues to abound. This a harmful misconception that could damage a cat’s emotional health.
The truth is, cats need a bare minimum of 20 minutes of human company. That means quality time spent playing and petting. Without this, cats become withdrawn and lonely. The warning signs of a lonely cat include:
- Increased clinginess and verbalizing. A lonely cat is an insecure cat. They’ll barely leave your side, possibly making a nuisance of themselves.
- Unwelcome behavior. Cats are not willfully wicked. If they’re acting out, they want your attention. Examples of this include eliminating outside the litter box, or destroying furniture.
- Unprovoked aggression. Does your cat swipe at your ankles when you walk past? Again, this is a classic sign that they want you to notice them.
- Excessive grooming. When cats get lonely, they grow stressed. Grooming is a way for felines to self-soothe their emotional turmoil.
- Not eating. Loss of appetite is another classic warning sign of stress in felines. Loneliness will dissuade a cat from eating their favorite meals.
- Excessive sleeping. Lonely cats are also likely to be bored, and even depressed. If your cat loses their lust for life and sleeps all day, they may crave company.
It’s essential that you do not punish your cat for these behaviors. This will magnify their loneliness. Even their human has turned against them.
Get your lonely cat into a routine, and spend more time with them. If this doesn’t help, you may want to consider feline companionship.
Do Cats Get Lonely Without Another Cat?
This all depends on what your cat is used to. If your cat has always lived alone, they’ll struggle with sharing. Felines are territorial. Your pet will not be happy about an interloper in their midst.
Some cats love the company of other felines. This is likely if your pet has never lived alone before. Bereavement of a feline friend also has an impact on cats, as Manhattan Cat Specialists explains.
There are pros and cons to getting a second cat, so think carefully before committing. Also, be sure that this is what your pet wants. If the two cats cannot get along, life will be difficult.
If you get a second cat and the dynamic is harmonious, you‘ll resolve your pet’s loneliness. The two animals will share a common language, and entertain each other. They’ll still need human company, but will generally be much happier.
Do Cats Prefer the Company of Other Animals?
Sometimes, a second cat is not an option. Maybe your cat doesn’t play well with others. In such an instance, what animals do cats get along with?
Cats and fish are not friendly, but a fish tank will fascinate your feline. They’ll stare at an aquarium for hours. This will provide entertainment. Take steps to keep your cat out of the fish tank.
Cats and rabbits can make surprisingly good housemates. As both animals are dominant, they’re likely to cancel each other out. Assess how your cat reacts before attempting this union, though.
Finally, there are dogs. Forget the stereotypes of inter-species fighting. As Vet Street explains, cats and dogs can get along just fine.
Tread carefully here, though. Canines are much less independent than cats. If you’re already so busy that your cat gets lonely, dogs will have a wretched time.
Do Cats Get Lonely When You Go on Vacation?
Don’t assume that your cat’s independence means they won’t miss you while you’re away. They may get lonely and anxious in an empty house. Toys will only entertain them for so long.
It’s crucial to build your cat’s confidence before leaving them for a prolonged period. Your cat needs to trust you, and know that you’ll come home eventually. They can look after themselves, but they’ll still miss you.
To avoid your cat getting lonely, assess what company they enjoy. If your cat is human-focused, ask a friend or family member to housesit. This should involve more than just feeding. Your cat’s play schedule must also be adhered to.
This applies if you have multiple cats, too. They will keep each other company for the most part. They’ll still need human interaction, though.
If your cat prefers the company of other felines, consider a cattery. This way, other cats will surround your pet. Ensure that all vaccinations are up-to-date before arrival, though. Viral infections spread quickly in such locations.
Do Cats Get Lonely at Night?
Have you noticed that your cat is more active at night? This can lead to them becoming bored and lonely while you sleep.
Many cats enjoy solitude after dark. While humans are asleep, cats can explore a house uninterrupted. They can also break the rules, such as climbing on the furniture.
This only applies if your cat is content, though. If your pet has a trusted routine, they know they’ll get attention in the morning. They may even wake you up to receive this.
If your cat is lonely in general, this will be magnified by night. While you’re sleeping, the house is dark and silent. This will make your cat feel very alone. They will plead for your attention, waking you at an unsuitable hour.
A routine is the only way to resolve this. The evening playtime will also tire your cat out. They’ll likely sleep through the night with you.
Are cats social or loners? Yes, they are. Both these terms could be accurately applied to felines. Finding the balance is key to a contented house cat.
Observe your cat, and learn the patterns of their wishes. You’ll discover that your pet enjoys time alone, but still appreciates the attention. You need to pick the right moment to provide this.
Cats are fussy, that’s no secret. They can be understood, though, if you make an effort to do so. Striking a balance between solitude and socialization is key.