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Are Only Cats Lonely Cats?

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We’ve asked several pet parents to weigh in on the trends, topics and controversial issues that impact their daily lives as pet owners. Please note that the opinions expressed are those of the individual writers and do not represent the viewpoints of Pet Central.

Unlike horses and sheep, cats are not ‘herd’ animals, so many of us believe (hope?) that a solitary feline in a home is content on his own. In a single-cat household there’s no one else to steal the treats or nudge him out of his plush cat bed. There’s also no other kitty vying for your attention or a spot on your lap.

But even if your solo kitty appears to be the happy feline center of your universe— cats are famously independent, right? —cats do crave similar companionship.

When my cat Max lost his beloved companion Piper after five years, I knew Max needed a buddy around to keep his magnificent purr humming. Like us, cats mourn, but they also move forward. As an only cat for just a few weeks after Piper’s loss, Max lost some of the sparkle in his golden eyes. But when I brought a new cat named Starli home, Max let out an emphatic hiss followed by a friendly invitation to help claw the couch.

Cats are more mentally alert and physically active in pairs (or threes or fours), which adds to their good health. An older cat perks up when a young companion joins the household. A young kitten will look up to a resident elder, figuring this is someone who knows lots of great cat secrets. Even kitties who seem to clash nonstop actually do get along better than they want you to know (haven’t you realized that cats always keep us guessing?).

Your rationalizations for just one cat: “There’s no room for another. Twice the cat hair! My own cat would hate a newcomer. I can’t spend a fortune on cat food/cat litter/vet care. One is the perfect number…” These are just excuses that stand in the way of your cat’s co-habitation happiness.

Foster a shelter cat to test-drive that new reality, then prepare to double down on feline affection. It’s a small investment for a big return.

Image: Renata Apanaviciene via Shutterstock


Kathy Blumenstock is owned by cats, loved by dogs, writes about both, and still longs for a horse.