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Do cats get lonely? And how can I tell?

Nowadays, it is inevitable that on more than one occasion, pet parents are forced to leave their beloved cats home alone, either to go to work, to go out for dinner, or even for a short weekend trip to which they can’t take their furry friend. When those times come, you probably think there’s no problem. After all, cats are very independent animals that seem to enjoy spending time alone, and it’s true, but have you ever wondered, “do cats get lonely?

Your cat may have all the comforts it needs at home, but it may be that, even though he has dozens of toys, it gets bored and lonely when you’re not around. If you’ve ever worried about this, you’ve come to the right place because I’m going to tell you all about cat loneliness, whether it exists or not, and ways you can avoid it.

Do cats get lonely? Yes

Of course, unlike what many people think, cats are social animals that require interaction to maintain healthy emotional stability, especially domestic cats because they are used to living with humans and often with other pets too.

Cats are routine animals that don’t like change, even if it is minimal. When a cat is used to spending most of its day with a companion, even if it is only observing from afar, it can get very reluctant to be alone for several hours. Although they are very independent, like dogs, cats also get bored, feel lonely, and sometimes sad or depressed if they spend many hours or days alone.

do cats get lonely - how can I tell

How can I tell if my cat feels lonely?

Unlike dogs, cats don’t usually show their emotions in such an obvious way. The cat usually hides pain or sadness because it can be a sign of vulnerability for them, and every feline knows that a respectable cat never shows weakness. Also, not all cat breeds are as affectionate as a dog. It depends on your cat’s personality.

Luckily for us, animal behavior experts have spent a lot of time studying these mysterious cats, deciphering certain attitudes, such as the appearance of a solitary cat.

One sign that your cat is lonely may be that when you come home or when you are with him, he is more attached to you or needy than usual. This behavior is a little hard to notice, as many cats follow their humans around the house even when they go to the bathroom, but you know your cat better than anyone, and you can notice the slightest change.

Maybe your cat used to engage in petting one moment and then leave and now seems not to want you to finish, or maybe your cat wasn’t interested in you while you were doing the dishes, and now he sits next to you. Another sign can be excessive meowing, whether at home or not.

My cat meows non-stop every time I take the dogs out for a walk, and I don’t take her, although she doesn’t always want to go for a walk, she protests because she doesn’t like to be left alone, and when we come back she seems to be yelling at me because she meows and meows.

Remember that cats don’t meow at each other. Meowing is the cat’s way of communicating with humans, so if your cat makes a sound, it’s for you to notice and pay attention to him. Doing their needs outside the litter box is also a sign of discomfort that we can associate with loneliness. Cats are spotless animals; unless the litter box is filthy, they will resort to going outside, so if you ever notice this behavior, you will know something is wrong.

Likewise, if your cat is usually well-behaved and lately scratches the furniture, he may feel lonely and bored if he spends many hours alone. Aggressive behavior in any cat is not normal.

In more extreme cases, when a cat is left alone regularly, it may develop depression, with more noticeable symptoms such as excessive grooming or lethargy.

do cats get lonely - left at home

How long can a cat be left alone?

Since cats are habit animals, they generally get used to your schedule. They know what time you get up, what time they eat, and what time you leave and return from work, so as long as those schedules don’t change, the cat should be okay. However, there are many things to consider before leaving your cat home alone.

Small cats have a tough time being alone for several hours because they depend on you to eat and have a strong bond with their favorite human. Cats from 0 to 4 months old shouldn’t spend more than 4 hours alone because of their nutritional needs, since at this stage, they eat up to 5 times a day. If the cat is already 6 months old, it can be left alone for up to 8 hours, so you can go to work without worrying. And finally, when the cat reaches adulthood, at one year of age, it should be able to be left alone for 48 hours or more.

How can I leave my cat home alone?

If you are going to leave your cat home alone, you should prepare beforehand. You can do the following to help your cat at lonely times:

  • Leave enough food. You can even buy an automatic feeder that will feed your cat on the schedule he is used to.
  • Be sure to leave fresh, clean water. If you leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours, use a water fountain to ensure the water doesn’t become stagnant.
  • Have a regiment of toys, scratching posts, and distractions to make sure your cat has no entertainment shortage.
  • Leave on classical music or the television. The rhythmic sound of the music will help your cat relax, or the sound of voices on TV will keep him company.
  • Hide snacks around the house for the cat to find while you’re away.
  • A cat tree in front of the window is a good idea so your cat can watch people passing by, cars, and birds. This way, your cat will be entertained for hours.
  • Before going to work, take your cat for a walk. This practice will clear his mind and help him burn off pent-up energy.
  • A companion may be your best option. Another cat or even a dog to keep company is a great idea. He will never feel lonely or bored with a play buddy, as long as they get along.
do cats get lonely - how long can a cat be alone

Do cats get lonely? The bottom line

When you return home after leaving your cat alone for several hours, make sure to spend quality time with your cat, whether it’s a good cuddle session, playing, or going for a walk. Cats need alone time, but they are still social animals that crave and require interaction with the members of their close circle, in this case, you.

As a last piece of advice, if, despite your attempts to keep your cat from being lonely, he is still feeling a little sad, you can hire a cat sitter or ask a friend or neighbor to come over and spend some time with your cat.

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