Keeping a Single Cat Content
Guest post by Kristen Levine
Kristen Levine Pet Living is the place for stories, science & advice for living happier and healthier with pets.
If you’ve ever thought of cats as aloof, solitary, and independent, you may be surprised to know that cats want company! And, just like humans and other social animals, they may become bored or depressed if they’re deprived of the companionship they crave. However, it’s also a fact that not everyone is in a position to adopt a second (or third) feline to keep their first cat company.
If you are the parent of a single cat, you’ll be glad to know that solitary cat status does not doom your kitty to a life of misery and boredom. There are plenty of things you can do to keep them purring by making his life stimulating and enjoyable.
Spend Time With Your Cat
Bonding time is enjoyable for any cat, but it’s especially important if you’re the parent of a single cat. Make it a routine, the same time each day, so it’s something your kitty can expect and look forward to. Spend some one-on-one time every day paying special attention to your cat, whether it’s grooming, chatting, playing, or simply snuggling—whatever your cat (and you) enjoy the most.
What works best for me is to take a little time first thing before the day gets busy and then again when I’m winding down. I have “Turtie Time” every morning: Turtie, my eight-year-old Tortie girl and I have some quiet coffee time before the dog wakes up. Then, in the evenings before bed, Olivia and I snuggle, and she gets a purr-sage while I read.
When You’re Not Home
Left on their own, it’s easy for single cats to become bored or lonely. This could result in health issues or behavioral problems. Some may even develop separation anxiety and act out their stress with undesirable behaviors like destroying furniture, spraying, excessive vocalizing, or aggressiveness.
However, no one can be home all the time, right? You can alleviate Fluffy’s boredom and loneliness by providing a stimulating environment in your absence.
Here are a few fun, easy ways to keep kitty entertained until you return.
Provide Lots of Toys
The right toys can provide endless kitty entertainment, but you may have to experiment a little to find what’s fun for your cat. Maybe your cat is one of those who loves interactive activity, like chasing a string that you pull (just remember to put it away when you’re done supervising!), but isn’t exactly inclined to play spontaneously. Don’t give up!
Try toys filled with catnip or ones that crinkle and make noise. You may be able to introduce the element of surprise to capture kitty’s interest by using a motion-activated toy. With a little trial and error, you should be able to discover a few toys that your cat finds irresistible. Remember to keep it fresh and change up playthings from time to time—just like us, cats get bored with the same old stuff after a while. Put kitty’s favorites in rotation so they get tucked away for a while and then brought back out when it’s time to freshen up the toy selection.
Create a Kitty Playground
Cats love to climb, hide, and scratch. So, if you don’t provide your single cat with an appropriate opportunity to indulge that love, you may return home one day to find that kitty’s natural need for climbing or scratching has been filled by an attack on your sofa or curtains.
A cat tree provides the purr-fect (non-destructive) spot for your cat to scratch, stretch, climb, and survey his surroundings. You may even be able to make your own tree or scratching posts to save money and fit your space. If you don’t have the room for a full-sized cat tree, many cats are just as happy with carpet squares glued to shelves and hung on the wall at a good jumping distance. Even a few simple cardboard boxes or paper bags scattered around can provide hours of entertainment!
Bring the Outside to Him
The world outside is just full of things that cat find fascinating—birds, bugs, squirrels, blowing leaves—what cat wouldn’t love to spend the day exploring the big outdoors? As delightful as the outside may be, however, it’s also full of danger. As a matter of fact, the average life expectancy for an outdoor cat is 8-12 years shorter than indoor cats! The good news is that you can bring many of the wonders of the outside to your cat without exposing him to the risks. Put up a few cozy perches in sunny windows around the house. If possible, put up a bird feeder outside one window to bring the entertainment up close!
A single cat can still be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Just make sure to set aside quality time for human companionship, and keep his environment entertaining and interesting.