Keeping a cat alone: Yes or no?
They rotate their ears, curl their tails, tilt their bodies or heads and meow: Cats communicate in many ways because they are very social and sociable. If you keep them alone, your cat may feel lonely and underchallenged, which in the worst case can even lead to depression. We'll enlighten you about cat myths and tell you what behavioural problems lonely cats reveal.
5 Myths about keeping cats alone
A myth says that cats prefer to live alone with their humans, because they don't like to share and want to have their peace as much as possible. This is not true - the little tigers may be solitary hunters, but as a rule they are not loners! Here is a list of the statements about keeping cats alone that have persisted for years and to what extent they are true.
1. “Cats are loners”
Although cats like to hunt prey alone, they enjoy a life among conspecifics. No human can replace mutual grooming, playful scuffles and physical contact while sleeping.
2. “Kittens become more attached to their humans alone”
When a kitten moves in with you, everything is new at first. It probably feels insecure in the first few days without its mother and littermates. During this time you offer the kitten important support. However, it will be difficult for you to purr, grumble, raise your fur or communicate with your ears. Therefore, as a human being, you unfortunately cannot replace a cat buddy who speaks fluent "feline" and who is a playmate at eye level when boredom sets in.
3. “One cat is less work than two cats”
You feed your kitten at least twice a day and always make sure the litter tray is clean. If you have a house cat only, i.e. without outdoor access, you are also responsible for fun and entertainment: Your indoor cat not only needs lots of scratching opportunities (e.g. scratching tree or scratching boards), but also play opportunities in the home. It's best to have a selection of species-appropriate cat toys at hand, to regularly entertain your cat (e.g. with a teaser) and to take enough time for cuddles. If you keep more than one cat, the amount of food will increase and you may have to clean the litter tray more often, but the cats will enjoy spending time with each other and will take up less of your time.
4. “My cat is also happy alone”
Your cat seems to be peaceful when it sleeps on the sofa all day, and you, as the cat's owner, are obviously enough company for it: because it constantly strokes your legs - surely a sign of its strong bond with you, right? What you perceive as positive behaviour from your cat may also be a consequence of her being kept alone.
5.“My cat does not like other cats”
Disputes between cats are as normal as between any other social animal. However, it is not an indication that your cat does not accept or even avoids other cats. Does the cat occasionally tussle with the neighbour's cat or has a socialisation with a second cat already failed? Don't give up - it may be that the "chemistry" is not right at this point. The keys to successfully reuniting two cats are often time, patience and calm.
How does keeping my cat alone affect it?
If you leave the house and leave your cat alone for hours without a partner cat, it can actually become lonely, either during the first few months or over the years. It lacks a companion to snuggle up with, to groom each other and to play with. Unwelcome behavioural changes in single cats can be the result, which often bring disadvantages for the animal and its owner.
In the beginning, a cat often suffers "quietly". The sometimes depressive behavioural traits slowly creep into everyday life. If your velvet paw shows one or more of these behaviours, it is advisable to take a closer look and have the behaviour clarified by a vet or a cat psychologist:
- Protest peeing
Some cats show their displeasure by peeing wildly. Since they are usually very clean, uncleanliness is a clear warning signal.
If your four-legged friend destroys wallpaper and furniture with its claws at first, it may soon show aggression towards you or other flatmates and scratch or even attack you.
Very lethargic behaviour can also indicate a way of coping with frustration. If your cat sleeps unusually much and lies around apathetically most of the time, this may indicate a depressed mood. In the long run, this will also be detrimental to your cat's physical health: although it may eat less, the lack of exercise could cause him to put on a disproportionate amount of weight.
Is your cat constantly hanging on your trouser? He seems to be doing everything it can to get your attention and affection. If it also leaves its full food bowl as soon as you leave the room and follows you everywhere, this could express its feeling of loneliness.
Can't your cat find any peace? If it roams restlessly through the flat all day or climbs, jumps on and off your furniture and meows at the top of its lungs, then it is probably underchallenged and crying out for entertainment.
When is it still possible to keep a single cat?
We have given you some important reasons for keeping more than one cat. However, in some circumstances it makes sense to keep your cat at home without a partner cat. We have listed 3 possible reasons for keeping a single cat:
1. Lack of social behaviour:
If a cat is used to being kept alone from an early age, it will forget body language and communication with its mates. In such a case, socialisation with other cats in old age is often difficult, usually even impossible.
Does your cat have the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), also called cat AIDS? Then it's better to keep it alone, because your cat is not only weakened and needs special attention, the virus is also contagious and can be transmitted to other cats during fights or playful scuffles.
3. Outdoor cat:
If your cat spends most of its time outdoors, prefers to eat on the terrace and does not come home regularly at night, then it probably maintains sufficient social contact with other cats, at least as an occasional pack animal, and does not need a partner cat in the house.
Important: This does not apply to cats kept indoors, which explore the surrounding gardens and meadows for only a few hours a day.
Which cat breeds can be kept alone
For many people who want a cat, only single keeping comes into question for various reasons. Here the question quickly arises, which cats can be kept alone. Some breeds seem to be able to cope without socialising with other cats, as they have been bred especially for the needs of humans and therefore seek the closeness of caressing hands:
- British Shorthair
- American Shorthair
- Europäisch Shorthair
- Maine Coon
- Russian Blue
- York Chocolate
However, cats are not made to be alone: if you work a lot or are out of the house a lot, a cat may not be the right housemate for you. All the breeds mentioned above are happy to have cat company.
Conclusion: Many things influence a happy cat life. Your entertainment and sufficient space are not necessarily enough for your velvet paw to feel completely comfortable. She prefers to play and cuddle with a companion. How do you live with your cat and what experiences have you had with single or multi-cat ownership? We are looking forward to your comments!